Kurt Wallander on TV in the US

by Peter

Henning Mankell’s reluctant hero, Inspector Kurt Wallander of the Ystad police force, is about to arrive in the US in the PBS “Masterpiece Mystery” series! For fans of Scandinavian crime fiction, this is great news, not least because even great Scandinacian crime fiction books sell much less in the US than one should expect.

Kurt Wallander is, however, being wished welcome by commentators in the media. SanDiego.com writes that

Wallander, the unfailingly lugubrious hero of a series of novels by Swedish writer Henning Mankell, always believes the fullest glass is 10 percent empty.

As Wallander, Kenneth Branagh, often seen in tights portraying Shakespearean noblemen, looks like the defeated remains of a bender of historic proportions, his eyes rheumy, his beard a forest of stubble, his hair the wreckage left by a tornado. When he calls upon a farmer who’s been working in the fields, the farmer is the better dressed man.

Three of Henning Mankells works will be featured on TV.  “Sidetracked” is the first, with the suicide of a teenaged girl in front of Wallander’s unbelieving, horrified eyes. The teenage girl stands in a field of flowers, and drenches herself with gasoline. Thenshe  sets herself ablaze before the detective can reach her.  (“Sidetracked” will be shown May 10, on KPBS/Cable 11. It will be followed by “Firewall” on May 17 and “One Step Behind” May 24.)

Boston.com writes that

Swedish writer Henning Mankell made Wallander a global name years ago in the bestsellers he built around the character. Branagh had read Wallander novels and jumped at the chance to play him. “I like the fact that he seems to be a broken man trying to put himself back together,” he explains. “He uses his job to ask himself questions about the meaning of life. He is unafraid to do so. His ill-balanced life/work relationship asks the question whether someone as brilliant as his record makes him out to be will always pay a price led by the demands of the job.”

I look forward to seeing Branagh in this role. Inspector Kurt Wallander is a paunchy, middle-aged man, separated from his wife and  with a somewhat relationship with his grown daughter. He drinks a little too much at times. And he does speak a lot. A nice challenge for Branagh!

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