A Swedish Cinematic Journey

Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Sep 12, 2019

It all started with Miss Friman's War. No, wait. It began in 2012 when a friend and I decided to go on a foreign adventure. She chose Sweden and I suggested we find a Swedish island to explore. (Free travel tip: On my trips to the UK and Ireland, I've learned that you never regret going to a country's islands -- they offer a wonderful microcosmic view of the land and culture, plus adventure!) Thanks to a quick Google image search, we discovered the well-preserved medieval city of Visby on Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. We even discovered a tinier island off that island--Fårö. The trip did not disappoint. Visby is now in my top ten cities--cobbled streets, ancient city wall, gorgeous ruins, an amazing brewery, and incredible views of the sea; and Fårö is one of the most intriguing places I've seen--otherworldly with its wind-stunted vegetation and stone stacks towering over a grey beach that made me feel like I was on a strange, stark planet far from Earth.

Now, fast forward to a few months ago when I was searching the library's New Titles (something I do regularly so I'm not #972 on a hold list--you can, too!). There it was -- Miss Friman's War. Looked interesting--I like historical films and feisty women. I'd never before considered how Sweden was in 1905, nor how Swedish women fought for their rights. Even more intriguing. The TV series was great--well acted, beautifully filmed, and I learned so much. Plus, it was fun to catch a glimpse of places in Stockholm I'd visited. After finishing it, I checked IMDb.com to find out what other films the actors had been in. This is where everything starts coming together...

Several actors had also been in The Inspector and the Sea, which is briefly described as a crime drama set in Gotland. What?!! Crime dramas are my favorite. And seeing films set in places I've traveled to is so fun (I've walked on the bridge in London where M and Bond are when MI6 explodes in the background during Skyfall) -- especially an island that isn't a top destination for film crews like Gotland. While we do not currently have The Inspector and the Sea in our catalog, I was able to use Interlibrary Loan (ILL) to see the first two seasons (if you're a Johnson County resident, you can use ILL, too!). I searched IMDb for other shows filmed on Gotland or Fårö and found Ingmar Bergman's documentaries Fårö document (1969) and Fårö document 1979, also only available through ILL. They gave me a historic glimpse into the lives of the stark and beautiful island I had only visited for a day (I walked among the very stone stacks that Bergman is with on the film poster!)--and made me curious to finally watch some classic Bergman films (of which we have several).

The trail continued, leading me to my favorite Swedish find thus far -- Maria Wern (which we have!), an excellent crime show set on Gotland that stars a female detective who exemplifies it's possible to be kind and feminine, as well as clever and tough. (If you like the Scottish detective show Shetland, which I can't recommend highly enough, you'll appreciate this Swedish view of islanders dealing with crime.)

Who knew that happening upon one good show could lead me to discover so many more and better my understanding of another culture and language? Now I have a whole new host of Scandinavian crime shows to watch... Feel free to join me!

Reviewed by Bet M
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