The Bridge, Saga Noren, and the pornography of violence
The Bridge, Swedish/Danish crime series, is addictive (We’ve watched 29 episodes, almost at the end of series 3.) but isn’t there really too much of the pornography of violence?
We started watching The Bridge near the beginning of lockdown in March 2020 and after one series we knew that, although it was so gripping, it was also so gruesomely terrible that we had to take a break from it for a while. The crimes are not just murders but usually involve some gratuitous cruelty or perversion. Why, I ask myself, would anyone want to watch something so horrible?
But then we tried it again and watched series 2 (not quite so good, repeating some ideas from series 1. It seemed to be plotting to a formula).
After that we took a long break from The Bridge but friends said how good series 3 was and so we were tempted again and have found it again truly addictive. We are now near the end of series 3 and like true addicts cannot wait for the next fix.
I’m not sure we are being wise to watch it. In my opinion its violence is pornographic and although it will have no influence on my behaviour I think it might on someone with a less stable mind.
The troubled characters
For me and Julie the main fascination is not the crimes. It’s partly trying to work out who the criminal might be, but it’s mainly about the team of police officers, their personalities and their problematic interactions. It’s also about how they struggle to cope with their personal problems whilst grappling with challenging investigations. And now, in series 3 we have a further complexity with a difficult, critical and undermining senior member of staff.
Saga Noren, the lead investigator who has the asperger mental condition, is brilliantly played by Sofia Helin. This asperger syndrome leads her to be blunt and ruthlessly honest in response to questions and this often results in surprising or shocking answers. She doesn’t have a normal person’s inhibitions and doesn’t understand other people’s feelings. She tries very hard to act like a normal person but she is very tense and has an icy cold stare, something that would be very disconcerting in real life.
Difficult or easy to like?
In a way you would expect such a person to be an unsympathetic character but in fact one becomes very involved in her world and her problems. I think I can remember being an obnoxious teenager who gave answers that were lacking in consideration for the feelings of others. Probably most of us have had to do jobs when personal problems were weighing heavily on our minds and it has been a challenge to “act normal”. That may be part of why we connect so readily with her behaviour.
Also, working with a boss who doesn’t seem to like you or who is “not on your side” is a common experience, so I, at least, can identify with that.
It’s interesting to see pictures of Sophia Helin as a smiling young woman. She is in fact now (2020) 48 years old, and married with a 17-year old son and 12 year old daughter. Her husband is a priest.
I have always assumed that the scar on her lip was studio makeup devised to give Saga a tougher appearance, perhaps to make it seem as if she had been in a knife fight. But in fact the scar is real and the result of a serious cycle accident when she was 24 years old and broke her jaw and resulted in the need for plastic surgery. An event which must have been particularly devastating as a young actress..
We have now only episode 10 of series 3 to watch and we are hoping that everything will be resolved and that we won’t be left with a cliffhanger tempting us to watch series 4.
I don’t think The Bridge enhances my sense of well-being or improves my thinking. I’ll try to resist watching series 4.
Is The Bridge suitable for public viewing? How has it affected you?
The Bridge started filming in 2011 and series 4 finished in 2018. All four series of The Bridge are available on BBC i-player.
David Roberts, Written December 2020.
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