The Bridge – whose truth, whose story…

The Bridge - Opening credit imageA body is found on a bridge. Except later we discover it is two bodies waste up and hip down of two different women. One half-body found in Denmark, one half-body found in Sweden. For the bridge the bodies are found together on is the Oresund Bridge, the bridge which joins Sweden and Denmark. Where the killer has arranged the bodies so that the line of their decapitation is also the border-line of Sweden and Denmark. Two different women then from two different countries and indeed from two different worlds, the upper-half a high-profile Swedish politician, the lower-half a low-profile Danish prostitute. A crude point perhaps being made by the perpetrator about politicians and prostitutes being indistinguishable.

So begins the grim premise of this new crime drama The Bridge currently airing BBC 4 of a Saturday night. It was broadcast originally in both Denmark and Sweden on a Wednesday night. The opening music Hollow Talk is by Danish band Choir of Young Believers. They really should have had a Swedish band for the closing music if not a collaboration between bands from both countries?! The dialogue for the show is in both Swedish and Danish.

Crime is a staple of the TV schedule in the UK – we have many home-grown TV cops – some of which I have reviewed on this blog – Identity, Scott and Bailey – see what I am doing here?! – and we have as many US imported crime dramas, again some of whom I have reviewed on this blog, Castle, well okay one of whom I have reviewed on this blog – but anyway  they are very many and that is just the good ones and we will all have our favourites – a few favourites off the top of my head – Cold Case, The Closer and Law and Order, in particular the spin-off series with Vincent D’Onofrio, oh and Dexter, and well see it is endless. Euro-cops on the other hand are a more recent import – and I am not going to get into a Geopolitical discussion here around the fact that the UK itself is part of Europe and so Rebus and Morse are actually Euro-cops too!

In the last few years we have had Swede Wallander which also had its own UK adaptation with Kenneth Branagh in the eponymous role. From France we had Spiral and from Italy Inspector Montalbano. And most critically acclaimed from Denmark, The Killing. And BBC 4 to their great credit has been responsible for airing all of them.

Have I missed out any other Euro examples reader? Any Spanish Sleuth or Icelandic Homicide Detective I should get myself acquainted with?

The Bridge - credit sequence imageAnd now with The Bridge we get further crime sleuths from Sweden and Denmark.

The Swedish lead cop in The Bridge is called Saga Noren. Saga is almost literally literary – Scandinavian story. Would I name a child of mine Story I ask myself. A child is a story made flesh and blood – we are all stories, each others tales – in the beginning was the word or at least before there was the word there was no way of events being described let alone made sense of – without the word there can be no thought, idea, sense – instead a brew of feelings, wonder and terror admixed – the world about us an inexplicable indistinguishable joined up mass – not that language will necessarily make it more explicable – but it will try.

Our life itself is terminal but its story is always left unfinished…how much are we the authors of our own stories and how much the characters purposeful and purposeless in other author’s stories…well The Bridge writer Hans Rosenfeldt if you will name one of your main characters Saga I will go there!

The Bridge - Saga

I could sleep but…

The Danish lead cop is called Martin Rohde. And Martin is not such an innocent name as you might think alongside Saga – Mars, Martial, War – but I am not going to get on board that train of thought – the story you want to hear about if you are reading this is that of The Bridge – what is it about and what do I think and feel about it and likely not even that latter part you dry information seeking travellers of the web! – unless you are one of my subscribers who perhaps long forgot what it was they signed up to in the first place. I wish I could tell you but I am only the writer of all this.

Well, some dry synopsis then. Martin Rohde is married to his job but then that is another definition of a vocation – he is having a part-time affair with his wife and sometimes baby-sits his children. The criminals he seeks and sometimes catches are better known to him than his own sons and daughters whose many mile-stones more often than not will pass him by.

The Bridge Saga Noren & Martin RohdeAnd Saga his Swedish counterpart is not even having an affair with a husband. Her job is as devoted to her as she is to it. They hardly spend any time apart.

In one scene we see her in her bra as she changes her top – she is not changing her top in her bedroom, or in anyone-else’s bedroom, she is at work. And she is not changing her top in a rest-room or any other clandestine space but at her office desk which is open-plan with only computer terminals dividing one worker from another – it is not just that this is unremarkable to Saga but it is to her colleagues too – they are used to it and her, only visiting Dane Martin feigns to hide his incredulity. Saga is an astute detective in spite of her lack of personal skills and empathy – or perhaps because of it – think an unselfconscious Monk.

Their teams have established that their victim is not one but two and will begin to wonder if the perpetrator is also not one but two, or more.

The perpetrator later identify himself/herself/themselves – trying to describe a plot whilst not spoiling it at the same time is a delicate tightrope walk we critics (even of the ‘so-called’ and ‘self-styled’ varieties) have to balance – as Truth Terrorists or TT. They come with their own website too! And with two web-addresses – one SE and one DK.

I had to see if the show’s creators had gone to the trouble of creating the websites too but the risk with typing Truth and Terrorism into the Google search engine is you are inevitably greeted with websites and articles titled surprisingly ‘The Truth about Terrorism’ and then wary in a quite reasonable and not remotely paranoid way about attracting the attention of the FBI and the intelligence services of other countries as to why it is you are searching for such information in the first place! – so Intelligence Services of whichever country if you are reading this post as well as snooping my web-browsing then you now know my Google search was a very innocent one!  My search was a fruitless one too, or rather I could not find any such site listed on page one of the Google search results – is that a new definition of invisibility – if you are listed on page two and beyond of Google search results you might as well not exist at all?! Or just that I am lazy-assed and would not know research if it slapped me hard across the face with a wet kipper…!

The Bridge

Homeless…

As it transpires the self-titled Truth Terrorists are committing their crimes – as there are many others to come beyond these decapitations – to make political points – specifically that both the Swedish and Danish crime prosecution and detective agencies will pursue some crimes more than other crimes dependent on the demography of the victim – in one episode the homeless are subject to poisoning alongside property owners and developers being kidnapped for high-ransom – making the deadly point that if a crime is committed against the underclass it is more time and effort than it is worth to investigate – the death of such people is prioritized far less than any petty crime you care to think of committed against the wealthy and powerful. Likewise such priorities are expressed by the media – it is the kidnapping of the wealthy property owner that makes the news not the serial killing of the almost invisible homeless.

The Bridge Kim Bodnia

Father and son…

An additional point is made by one of Martin’s sons – that each year far more homeless die of cold and hunger than the body count in this sick Truth Terrorist killing spree – and that this is not investigated because its perpetrators are politicians or more amorphously societal indifference. If someone is murdered in the woods and no-one witnesses it did the murder take place sort of thing…that is if a deed goes unreported on mainstream media did it not take place. Further if the victim is not sexy or cute then they are not meriting of air-time – or if the perpetrator is not obviously a cartoon villain and so not easily vilified then it is passed over for some other more inconsequential news item. Is the News Industry in the Information Business or the Entertainment Business. This question is damning not just of them but we the viewers who clearly in the main could quite happily live on a diet of gossip and tittle-tattle alone.

For the other main character in The Bridge is a tabloid journalist (funny how when I write out the word tabloid journalist the shortcut hack comes instantly to mind) Daniel Ferbe or rather his newspaper or news media in general is the main character – Daniel Ferbe one pawn of many – the term ‘useful idiot’ is applied against those who support a cause they do not fully understand but whose charisma and popularity none-the-less will still promote that same cause and sadly applies to many journalists too – except here it is The Truth Terrorists who are trying to make a useful idiot of Ferbe and his newspaper for their own criminal ends rather than the traditional arrangement where political parties do such.

The Bridge

…the journalist…

Paradoxically the Truth Terrorists are doing some of the investigative journalism that Ferbe and his colleagues should be doing themselves, providing him with incendiary internal policing documents – as typing this and having watched four episodes I only now have made the connection to Wiki-leaks and Julian Assange – it is not that I am slow on the uptake but that I take my time to process and percolate information – urgh! – instead of the crony journalism and lazy cheer-leading of the incumbent ruling political party that his paper usually indulges in.

We have the suspense of the Swedish and Danish detectives seeking to catch the killers, we also have the suspense of what crimes the TT will commit next and for what purpose – what crimes of society will they be looking to illustrate next by committing crimes against those crimes as they try to make an ultimate right out of multiple wrongs multiplied against multiple wrongs.

The other notable presence in The Bridge is the décor – both interior and exterior painted in shadow. Police, villains, media, all moving among the gloom – in some scenes their faces barely visible, characters distinguished instead by their shapes and their sounds. And also their smells (our imaginations filling the gap that TV technology cannot provide, yet).

Martin has a brief encounter with the perpetrator – they are inevitably masked and brutally dispatch a beating to Martin – though only to injure, almost as if he wants his pursuers alive, to continue to investigate and by doing so to continue to publicize – and I write perp but is this one man TT or one of its many hiding faces?…

A later episode has a crime committed simultaneously in Sweden and Denmark – so it must be more than one person mustn’t it? Must it? We will find out. Maybe.

The Bridge - closing credits image

Not Sold Out…

I don’t know if this post is necessary or not but you may notice on my blog now a few advertisements surreptitiously trying to sell you something.

This is because I have just been approved for the WordAds Beta – a sort of WordPress rival to Google Ads. In terms of revenue generation I am anticipating cents with a whole dollar being a particularly good month!

However I am interested to see whether it will increase my traffic.

My blog has quite a reasonable footfall but in the same way that a flower-seller in an underpass has – a few stop and say hello but most catch me a fleeting glance before pretending not to have seen me and eyes down or fixedly ahead upon their eternal business. But perhaps these advertisements will lure some of them on to the magical emporiums of consumer goods and services being offered and I will catch a few pennies from it, thus making their indifference to me a little less chilling on my long-forlorn blogging-heart…

Though of course not you dear reader. You and me, we are the discerning few, advertising a futile gesture at best, its trance-like stupor wasted on us…

As an aside my attempted satire post Privatize the Pavements was accompanied earlier by an ad for a private paving company – the humuor here writing itself!

By way of this beta I have also had to change my blog theme – technically it did not meet with the Word Ads approval. This new one is called Sunspot and is rather spiffing I think. It has an eternally autumnal feel too which fits with me – the fall masquerading as the spring…

Privatize the pavements!

David Cameron's picture on the 10 Downing Stre...

David Cameron’s picture on the 10 Downing Street website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Privatize the roads! promises our Coalition Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader David Cameron.

In a speech to the nation, well to the Westminster Village hacks, crony-journalist’s finest, he went on.

Yes! Yes! Yes! But this is only the start ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet, no really, you really haven’t seen nothing yet.

This is our pledge to you – if we can find a way to privatize something, anything, we will. God Save The Queen, God Save Margaret Thatcher.

The natural progression I am sure you will agree to privatizing the roads is to privatize those – those bits on the sides, that losers sorry non-motorists – pedestrians? – use.

Privatize the pavements. End this era of free-loading strollers.

There will be many benefits of pavement privatization, most importantly, of course, that it will make huge amounts of money for the City hopefully including some of our corporate partners or donors – tomato, tomatho. Perhaps this will not improve our walkways but at least profits will be generated and a lot of them,  and don’t worry it wil be made by a few not the many which is always a good thing, none of that ‘we’re all in it together’ talk. Pure nonsense. Pure socialism!

And this brings us to one of those important and beautiful C words – no not Capitalism not even Conservatism (audience laughs) but of course I talk of Choice.

pedestrian sunday

pedestrian sunday (Photo credit: Commodore Gandalf Cunningham)

Some consider the quality of our sidewalks or their mere basic functional directional need to get us from A to B as being most paramount but they would be wrong. What exercises the good people of this country, those who will vote for us anyway, is choice or rather the lack of it. We leave our homes to be confronted with one pavement only. I am sure you share my frustration at this. Well, no longer. With this privatisation a utopia of multiple pavement options awaits us.

Privatization will mean you will have a multitude of pavements passing by your home competing for your business (coughs) use – potato, potahto – it is what you have been dreaming of. I am sure. A future too where the escalator walkway will no longer be the preserve of airport arrivals and departures but will at last come outside and become a feature of our suburban streets and shopping centre cruise-bys. For an extra-levy, naturally.

This government is keen to encourage healthy life-styles and any mileage beyond the first fifty per day will be free.

Some of our critics have suggested that privatization of the pavements is backdoor privatization of walking itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can trust us.

Further the first fifty yards of walking sorry pavement use will be levy-free. This is nothing to do with us favouring the motorist by allowing those without a garage or driveway to get to their car – rather a concession to our coalition partners who love their thresholds and are determined that no-one using Britain’s pavements should have to pay for the first fifty yards per day. More details will follow in a speech I am to give three days from now. [Privately a leading conservative expressed regret at this concession as ‘more crazy socialism from our Lib Dem partners’ and ‘as soon as we are free to govern alone we will make sure every UK citizen gets charged for every step they make, this is what business and their shareholders want, and as we all know, this is what really matters’]

London pavement

A pavement! In London!

The Department for Transport when asked about costing advised it was still in talks with the Treasury but that it was up to the market and they predicted it would likely be something innocuous ‘like a penny per step’.

Later in the week the Department for Transport also warned that it has seen websites appearing advocating other forms of bipedal movement to defray the pedestrian-duty (as it was now being called)  such as hopping, skipping and jumping but that this was not the British way and hopping in particular could be very dangerous. What if, for example, some one accidentally hopped off the pavement into oncoming traffic. Think of the poor motorist, not to say their insurer. Oh and the injured hopper. The Department also advised they would take a dim view regarding an explosion of space-hoppers on our pavements adding ‘no one wants to see that sort of thing on Britain’s streets’. And that the government were always minded that any use of the public pavement has to be considered in terms of revenue generation sorry public safety.

In his follow-up speech the PM stood behind his podium and self-importantly shuffled the papers he was reading from and then looked earnestly toward the TV camera’s in his this-is-my-serious-face (just don’t look into my laughing eyes) address-the-nation mode.

Currently there is a casual anarchy on our pavements with pedestrians dangerously navigating on both the left and ride side, and a constant stream of inconsiderate slow moving elderly and dawdling toddlers and other non-motorist los…loiterers without commercial intent I guess you might call them. And they unlike motorists can take to the sidewalks without any training or walking license. The privatization of our pavements will ensure that pedestrians are moving in an orderly fashion and that zig-zagging on a public walk-way will be a thing of the past.

He added they would be looking at introducing a speed limit on the public-walk-ways with penalties for anyone walking too slowly.

The Opposition parities were vehemently against these proposals with Labour describing it as ‘venal and crazy’ and, as they have said about all previous privatizations, a ‘privatization too far’ although they have not said they will reverse it should they get back into power. A spokesman added that they could not possibly make such promises at this time as by the time of the next election it could have established itself as a popular policy with the country. Or at least with the swing-voters in their marginal seats.

A Big Issue seller in High Street, Oxford, Eng...

A Big Issue seller in High Street, Oxford, England in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, when pressed if he had ever used a pavement replied ‘that he was sure that he had done’. The Prime Minister was keen to add that he had most certainly done so remembering he had walked on one in London in he thinks 2004 though it might have been 2003 but you could not expect to remember details like that. But, he huffily assured us that he had, explaining that he remembers as he had been accosted, coughs, approached, by a young man selling a copy of the Big Issue, which in passing he added was a wonderful example of entrepreneurship and which had also given him the seeds for his idea of the Great Society now referred to as the Big Society and perhaps yet Big-Ish Society. He also recalled that he did not have any cash on him at the time so sadly he emphasized he could not buy the magazine but did pat the seller on his shoulder and exhorted him ‘to keep it up’ before quickly moving on.

Labour Leader Ed Milliband was quick to take to the pavements and more importantly to ensure a camera-crew was in pursuit and dismissing the whole policy in he hoped a sound-bite that would taste good ‘This is the Government’s doomed Chasing Pavements strategy’. Sky News TV naturally did not hesitate to film Ed on his media-circus walkabout to the strains of Adele. Whilst the Guardian newspaper made a similar jibe about David Cameron’s pavement privatization policy in a barely read column in their Transport section

Pavement

Another pavement! Not in London!

The Prime Minister went on to say that he was very excited about the commercial opportunities for privatizing the walkways (adding perambulation is a privilege not a right) and though they had not got into the detail (at all in fact) options would include pavement tolls, GPS tracking, Pram Cams – whichever was the most efficient to implement, or rather cost-efficient to implement, oh damn it you know what I mean ‘the one that generates the most profit for the private companies running them that I have some hopefully concealed commercial relationship with’.

Related to this a senior member of The Minister of Transport said that his Executive Position and newly acquired shareholding in a number of companies touted as most likely to be awarded the contracts for the running of these projects was of course quite coincidental and had no influence on the government’s commissioning process or desire  to move forward quickly with it.

The PM alluded to the 1966 song ‘Taxman’ saying he sympathized with the Beatles in respect of ‘if you take a walk we will tax your feet’ saying no one wants to have their feet taxed. Having their feet charged an extortionate fee by a private company on the other hand would not have vexed George Harrison at all. Private is good, public is bad and thus a private fleecing is always to be preferred.

The PM beginning to wrap up his speech crowbarred in the new  (he hoped) meme for the pavement privatization – ‘Walk fare is walk fair’.

The slogan for the campaign would be ‘Walking proudly into the future with the Conservatives – change jingling in your pockets…’

They were determined he added to get this signed off in parliament in the first half of the session to allow for the privatization of the air-supply in the second half. He then denounced the human-rights-lobby adding that breathing is not a right but a privilege and always more appreciated if hard-earned.

Ends to the Police ‘Every breath you take, every step you make, we’ll be charging you’…