Forbrydelsen: Post-Mortem

Forbrydelsen is a TV series from Denmark that aired in 2007.

I forget exactly how it came to my attention this past week. Probably because I tripped across a link that said AMC-TV was doing an American version of it.

Forbrydelsen is twenty episodes long, with each episode covering a 24-hour period of a single murder investigation.

A nineteen-year-old woman, Nanna Birk Larsen, is reported missing. Due to the stubborness of Detective Sarah Lund, who goes against all advice to stop searching, Nanna’s body is recovered in a car that was sunk into a lake.

The investigation begins on the day when Lund is due to exit her job and move to a new life in Sweden with her son and Swedish boyfriend (who is later revealed to have a useful skill). Her replacement, Jan Meyer, wants her to drop the case and leave so he can assert his own authority.

The investigation leads to a connection with one of the political parties involved in a nasty campaign for the office of Lord Mayor of Copenhagen.

From there, things explode in all directions. Think of it as a kind of It’s a Wonderful Life, but with George Bailey being murdered as a kid instead of never having been born. The overarching point of the series is how the investigation and all of its clues and leads wreak havoc in everybody’s lives. If I didn’t lose track, at least ten lives are destroyed by the murder of this one young woman. And most of those people never even knew her!

The series is a hell of a roller coaster ride. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, they throw a wild curve ball that upsets everything. I couldn’t stop watching it. I thought I’d watch an episode a day. I wound up watching five yesterday and the final three today. The series starts very slowly, but like a subtle drug, you become addicted and must have all of it.

It’s a first-class production, with great acting, lush photography, keen direction, and a very haunting score by Frans Bak.

There are many shots of Copenhagen, adding to the series’ atmosphere.

For the most part, I think this is the kind of TV series Ken Bruen would have written. It has the same feel of his Brant series and Taylor series mashed together. I think this might be airing in the UK right now. I hope Bruen is watching it.

SPOILER ALERT AHEAD! Skip the rest of this post!

But when I got to the twentieth episode, I was extremely disappointed. Apparently they counted on people forgetting the forensics report from the first episode. I didn’t. So the person revealed as the killer didn’t match what the report at the beginning cited. It made no damned sense! His motivation didn’t match what Nanna had undergone before death!

So ultimately, they fucked up.

Do I still recommend seeing the series? Yes, but —

UPDATE June 20, 2011: For full-out spoilers, see new post, AMC-TV’s The Killing: R U FFR?


Forbrydelsen 2 Danish site (requires Flash)
Forbrydelsen 2 download swag (requires Flash)


Filed under TV, Writing

7 responses to “Forbrydelsen: Post-Mortem

  1. Chris

    I agree that they fucked up. It made no sense. Just the simple issue (SPOILER) of the necklace. WHY was Nanna holding this necklace? How did she get a hold of it? What about Nannas body being perfectly clean and washed? And if he raped her and kept her hostage in the city, how did this lead up to her escape in the woods?

    I loved the series but the end did not make ANY sense.

    • mikecane

      Yep, all that too. Who they pinned it on did not match everything they established at the beginning.

    • I think it was implied that he had been wearing it since the first death and Nanna tore it off when she was being killed.

      Also, he was the son of drs and studied to be a dr briefly so I think he knew to clean the body, just as he knew how to drug her.

      He drove her to the woods. He seemed conflicted about killing her so maybe he let her go then realized (like he told her dad) that she would tell and he had to kill her. So he put her in the truck and pushed it in the water.

  2. Edward Kurys

    Who was the killer?

  3. The first thing you think when he saw the American version (unlike what happens with other remakes) is that you have not lost anything by not having seen the original, that is, no one has the feeling of missing something.
    Both are very interesting and share many things, but there are also many differences. And, interestingly, people with a predilection for one or the other, but do not hate or despise the other.
    If we look at the scores of FilmAffinity or imdb, for example, we see that the American version vece by a few tenths, surpassing both the 7 or 7.5.
    I particularly I opted for Danish. I think the depth of the characters is somewhat higher in the European and more credible. But both are highly recommended.

  4. I missed this at the time because of the spoilers. Interesting. I remember having been surprised when they revealed the killer, thinking the clues they had left weren’t consistent, but I didn’t go back to review the first episodes, so I thought maybe I hadn’t remembered correctly or that maybe the sexual violence was only an hypothesis and not confirmed.

    Is it possible that Vagn’s character was so troubled by Nanna’s behavior that he took it out on her in the worst possible way? Probably, but I agree with you, that kind of sickness would probably have shown up in other ways. The ending to this seasons was disappointing for a series that was otherwise so exceptional.

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