COPENHAGEN: With original boundary-breaking content, thrilling plots and charismatic actors, Danish television series have captivated audiences worldwide in recent years.
The latest show to hit the small screen is “Ride Upon the Storm”, which is being distributed in almost 80 countries with a debut late January in Britain.
The new drama was created by Adam Price, the BAFTA winner behind the acclaimed drama “Borgen”, which followed the political and personal tribulations of a Danish woman prime minister.
Danish shows, with both exoticism and gritty realism, have quickly soared in popularity beyond their initial local Scandinavian viewership, Pia Jensen, an Aarhus University communications associate professor specializing in television series, told AFP.
Long known for the Nordic noir crime genre, the big international breakthrough for Danish shows came with “The Killing”, a hard-hitting series following a Copenhagen female cop’s investigations.
Then came crime thriller “The Bridge” in 2011.
The Nordic noir genre has proven so popular that its aesthetic and themes are now being replicated beyond Scandinavia’s borders, with shows such as “Shetland” and “Broadchurch” made in Britain, Jensen said.
For foreign audiences, Denmark, as it is shown on television, is “an exotic society, something to aspire to because of the welfare state and the strong women characters”, she said, referring also to the 2010 hit “Borgen”.
She added, clearly amused, that it’s “as if Denmark is the fantasy land of gender equality”.
Paradoxically, in this almost utopian world, the characters are “normal” people with whom audiences can identify, according to Jensen.
But now Danish TV series has moved beyond Nordic noir.
“Ride Upon the Storm” is a character-led drama about faith and a family of Danish priests, dominated by Johannes Krogh, a tempestuous God-like father battling numerous demons.
Actor Lars Mikkelsen, known from “The Killing” and his role as the Russian president in Netflix’s “House of Cards”, plays Johannes, a role for which he won an International Emmy in November.
Mikkelsen “has set new standards for the portrayal of the main character in a TV series”, the show’s creator Adam Price told AFP.
Johannes “is the 10th generation of priests, it’s a huge burden that haunts him and he lets it haunt his sons too”.
His eldest son Christian is lost and at odds with the family and society, while younger son August is married and following in his father’s priesthood footsteps before becoming a chaplain for troops stationed in Afghanistan.
“In the Bible, you have lots of stories of fathers and sons and brothers. That was the perfect ground to tell (a story) about masculine relationships, the competitive gene between men in a family,” Price said.
Elements from “Borgen” can be seen in Price’s new venture: the efficient prime minister Birgitte Nyborg and Johannes Krogh, who is headed for the top as Bishop of Copenhagen, are both characters passionate about their work.
“But Johannes reacts differently than Birgitte (does) because his ambition is not within the world of politics, but with more supernatural power,” Price said.
Thoughts on faith, religion, and spirituality are mixed with a complex study of the family.
“Religion is sometimes something imposed, as authority can be imposed on our children in a family. And both are dealt with in ‘Ride Upon the Storm’,” he said.
Price is currently working on “Ragnarok” for Netflix, a six-part Norwegian coming-of-age drama based on Norse mythology but set in a modern-day high school.
The second season of “Ride Upon the Storm” just wrapped up on Danish public television DR, which produced the series, and had around 500,000 viewers.
A small country of just 5.8 million people, Denmark is proud of its reputation as an innovator on the small and big screen.
“Danish producers are mainly thinking of a Danish audience. It has to stay relevant to the Danish public and that’s why DR keeps experimenting,” Jensen said.
“Some of the shows will travel and some won’t.”
Rio to test facial-recognition cameras during Carnival
RIO DE JANEIRO: Rio de Janeiro plans to test a facial-recognition system during its famed Carnival as part of the city’s campaign to fight crime, the head of the regional police force said.
Rogerio Figueiredo, the new head of Rio de Janeiro’s state police, said in an interview published Monday by the O Globo newspaper that cameras deployed with the technology will scan both faces and car license plates.
It will be operational in Rio’s tourist hotspot of Copacabana in the beginning of March, when this year’s Carnival takes place.
“If (the cameras) identify an individual under an arrest warrant, or if a stolen vehicle drives through the area, an alert will be sent to the closest police car,” Figueiredo explained.
“It’s a fantastic tool. It’s time that the police modernize.”
Rio, which hosted the 2016 Olympic Games, has long suffered from street crime, with exchanges of gunfire common between drug-dealing gangs and police.
Last year’s Carnival was marred by numerous crimes in tourist areas, especially close to the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.
Television images showed groups of youths carrying out mass robberies by running into crowds and taking possessions by force.
Shortly after that Carnival, former president Michel Temer signed a decree controversially putting Rio’s security forces under military control until the end of the year.
With new anti-crime president Jair Bolsonaro installed January 1 and ally Wilson Witzel taking over as Rio’s governor, local authorities are poised to take a hard line on crime.
Witzel, for instance, has evoked using police snipers to kill armed suspects, even if they are not directly threatening anyone with their weapon.
Reports say the governor is also looking to acquire Israeli surveillance drones that are capable of firing on suspected drug gang members.
CIA agent Tony Mendez, hero of film “Argo,” dead at 78
WASHINGTON: Former CIA agent Tony Mendez, who engineered a creative way to smuggle US hostages out of Iran in 1980 and was immortalized in the Hollywood film “Argo,” died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease, his family said. He was 78.
Mendez, who will have a private burial in Nevada, died on Saturday, his literary agent Christy Fletcher said via Twitter, relaying a family statement.
“The last thing he and his wife Jonna Mendez did was get their new book to the publisher and he died feeling he had completed writing the stories that he wanted to be told,” the family statement read.
It added that Mendez had been suffering from Parkinson’s for the past 10 years.
Vocalist Mehnaz remembered
ISLAMABAD: Sixth death anniversary of the renowned and legendary singer was observed today.
Mehnaz Begum, the distinguished singer of Pakistan, had died on 19th January 2013 at the age of 55. She was on way to the United States when her condition deteriorated in Bahrain where she breathed her last at a hospital.
The master of classical genres like ‘ghazal’, ‘thumri’ and ‘dadra’ was born in 1958. Mehnaz began her career as a playback singer in the early ’70s. Her mellifluous voice and control over the sur instantly made her popular among music composers and film audiences. She sang for a number of films a majority of which became popular.
The talented singer sang many hit and evergreen chartbusters like Mujhe Dil Se Na Bhulana from film ‘Aina’, Kyun Roi Shehnai from ‘Haider Ali’ and Do Piyase Dil Ek Huay from ‘Bandish’.
Surrayya Bhopali was among the first films that Mehnaz sang for and Zeba Bakhtiar’s Babu was her last film as a playback singer.