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Wallander: Collected Films 1-7 [DVD] 
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The opening seven episodes of the acclaimed Swedish crime drama series based on the novels by Henning Mankell. Krister Henriksson stars as Kurt Wallander, a jaded police detective ground down over the years by difficult events in his personal life. As he investigates a string of grisly crimes in the cheerless town of Ystad, Wallander is accompanied in his work by his troubled daughter Linda (Johanna Sallstrom). Episodes are: 'Before the Frost', 'The Village Idiot', 'The Brothers', 'The Overdose', 'The African', 'Mastermind' and 'The Tricksters'.
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The other cast members, regardless of how much (or little) screen time they get, unfailingly show nuanced, rounded characters who one might imagine knowing in real life. Johanna Sällström plays Wallander's daughter Linda as an unwitting "chip off the old block," i.e., a detective with great insight who nevertheless has blind spots in personal dealings; in her case, you can see that she's been shaped by her desire to connect with her often emotionally distant father. Of all the actresses portraying this character, she brings a rawness to her Linda that it seems she came by honestly - if you end up watching this series and aren't familiar with her, I recommend reading about her.
Ola Rapace (ex of Noomi Rapace of "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" fame) is the hotheaded, sexy younger detective Stefan, who is both averse to romantic commitment but is wonderful with kids.
The series is less overtly political than the novels are, and I think that might be a strength. The Kenneth Branagh series hewed closer to the novels in that respect, but sometimes felt a bit didactic.
Subtitles are automatic, so don't look for a Setup or Features option on these DVDs. And do continue on to episodes 8 - 13, which complete series 1.
Krister is the best of the detectives from the land of the open outwards doors.
Perfect for a winters night...
Of course the BBC's own version starring Kenneth Brannagh is best known and it does indeed have a lot to recommend it. It has the sense to keep things in Sweden and Brannagh himself lends a suitably melancholic air to the hapless Kurt.
The original Kurt was played in great fashion by Rolf Lassgard as a lovable, hopeless oaf who shambled about with little regard for those about him, a quick temper and a sharp eye for detail.
The version of Wallander in this box set is, for me anyway, far and away the best. Krister Henriksson plays Kurt, not as a man completely lost, but rather as a man whose life has ground him down gradually over the years until the accumulation of his daughters teenage suicide attempt, his wifes desertion, his difficult father and guilt over a killing early into his career have finally left him exhausted and bewildered.
Alongside him is his daughter Linda, her boyfriend and the various characters who appear every series.
This is not a series for those looking for an easy and light hearted police procedural. Whereas the BBC's effort see's washed out primary blue's and yellow's splashed about the screen this see's a palette of brown & grey that rises from the flat, endless farmland towards glowering skies, clouded and heavy with rain.
Ystad is a grim town almost always buried by winter and fighting a losing battle with a darkness that prevails both physically and mentally.
The crimes are horrid, grisly and are always the result of tawdry and sad events that could have been avoided.
While Henriksson's Kurt is rightly lauded by those who love this version it is surely Johanna Sallstrom's work as Kurt's daughter Linda that is the pivot upon which this version moves so well.
Sallstrom is almost effortless in her depiction of a woman fighting to be accepted in her own right as a detective but always desperately hoping for the warmth and affection from a father who simply cannot deliver. Her past hangs over her and as she fumbles a relationship with a difficult colleague/ boyfriend you always feel she is close to breaking.
That Sallstrom took her own life in 2007 following a losing battle with depression just deepens the feeling of sadness. Certainly this is a worthy tribute to an actress whose work in these 7 episodes is a testimony to talent & depth of feeling.
The box set contains the first 7 episodes of the first series: `Before the frost', `The village idiot','The brothers','The overdose','The African','Mastermind' &'The tricksters'.
It's presented in anamorphic widescreen with removable English subtitles. I don't know if there will be any extra's.
There isn't a poor episode here,(I haven't seen a bad one in any of them frankly), and the length of time for each one allows for excellent development and characterisation.
The pace is perfect and as you begin to see more & more episodes the moments of introspection build up an understanding of each person's life and draws the watcher in deeper.
The acting is excellent throughout from the main characters clear through to the actors appearing for the briefest moments.
There are many excellent police drama's out there and even the other versions of Wallander are well worthy of your time but this is, for me, the best there is.
Bleak, thoughtful and beset by sadness throughout.
Outstanding, moving and recommended with no hesitation.
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