Monday, October 01, 2012

PIs in Fiction: Varg Veum

If you are a fan of Nordic crime dramas, Dear Reader, you might be familiar with the character Varg Veum, created by Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen. If not, perhaps you might consider the novels (five have been translated into English) or, perhaps somewhat more accessible, checking out the adaptions into feature-length films that have been made (starring Trond Espen Seim as Veum). There are twelve.

I'll freely admit I have only seen a number of the films and have not read any of the novels, but would most certainly do should any cross my path in future.

Varg (Norwegian for 'wolf') is a grizzled, if not somewhat shabby, private investigator who lives in Bergen and has a talent for getting himself in serious trouble. Usually with a number of bodies piling up. More often than not, Veum fends off complicated questions from his mentor/adversary, Police Inspector Hamre (who appears to be a Norwegian version of Columbo) while interfering in the ensuing police investigations.

Below is a mashup of several of the films, to give you a general feel for the tone of the Veumiverse:

Veum is not necessarily all that likeable a character and a bit of a douchebag at times. I'm frequently left wondering why he chooses a particular course of action or enquiry over another, more logical, choice - perhaps that's just how they roll in Norway - and that can make for some frustrating viewing.

Bergen has some similarities to Bad City, particularly the constantly dreary and ashen skies, the general feeling of a lack of any kind of future - so you might say that it feels a little like home.

It certainly is worth watching if for no other reason than a different take on the genre.

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