Review of Branagh’s Wallander: Episode 1, Series 3 – ‘An Event in Autumn’

I’ve just finished watching Episode 1 of the new Wallander series, ‘An Event in Autumn’, which got proceedings off to a hard-hitting and occasionally heart-stopping start.

It all begins so well! Wallander and his girlfriend have just moved into their dream home together, a fresh start designed to allow him to ‘leave work at the door’. He’s so happy he even smiles! Then Jussi the dog finds a skeleton under the blackberry bushes in the garden and it’s all downhill from there: the corpses pile up, there are scary encounters in poorly lit locations, and the icy winds of winter begin to blow. In sum: the classic, gloomy Wallander we know and love.

I do like Branagh’s Wallander very much (and isn’t Mankell fortunate to have found three such wonderful actors over the years to realise his creation?). The quality of the production, as in earlier series, is extremely high, and is undoubtedly anchored by Branagh’s performance, which allows us a privileged insight into the strengths and weaknesses of Wallander’s character. The frequent, beautiful shots of chilly beaches and bleak landscapes reinforce his nordic / melancholic loneliness perfectly.

For those of you interested in the theme music, it’s by Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo, and is called ‘Nostalgia‘. 

I’m already looking forward to seeing the second episode, ‘The Dogs of Riga’, next week. I’ll be intrigued to see how they adapt a novel originally set during the collapse of communism in the early 1990s.

For further details about series 3, see my earlier post.

For those keen to catch up, Episode 1 can be viewed on BBC iPlayer for a while yet.

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33 thoughts on “Review of Branagh’s Wallander: Episode 1, Series 3 – ‘An Event in Autumn’

  1. I still heard Nostalgia, but in a slightly different arrangement. The piano solos are along the same themes used in the previous series.
    Very well crafted film. I wasn’t expecting anything less. The only detail is that Swedes might think the British are painting a very grim and sad image of their entire country 😛 I look forward to seeing a bit of sun as well, in the next 2 films 😉

    • Thanks, Sara – I’ll listen out again for the theme tune. [Just done this and can confirm that it is Nostalgia – have amended post, thanks!]

      Nordic melancholia as a bit of a stereotype? Yes, I would agree with you, although to be fair, the original novels play very much on that image, at least as far as Wallander is concerned. His girlfriend seemed a more cheery type, at least until she went out into the dark to rescue her potted plants…

      • Yes, very true. I remember reading the first 9 books all in one summer and I loved the bits where Wallander is “hopelessly pondering.” 😉 The subject is too difficult to summarise in a couple of lines. I do hope though, that his girlfriend doesn’t give up on him. I liked his honesty at the end. Funny how personalities who can be seen as weak, can some times be so bluntly honest about themselves. Only when pushed to the limits, I guess.
        Anyway… I agree with you on the adaptation of ‘The Dogs of Riga’. We’ll see what they have come out with 🙂

  2. I know a Swede who thought the Branagh version of Wallander was far too stiff-upper-lipped and British. She said Swedes are more expressive and emotional.

    Can’t wait to see this episode. Well, I’d better because I’ll have to. I wish we had an Auntie as nice as the Beeb in the US.

    Thanks for the hot-off-the-tube review, Mrs. P.

    • Thanks, Barbara. Yes, he certainly brings some Britishness to the role (although Krister Henriksson’s depiction of W has quite a buttoned-up air about him as well). But as you’ll see, Branagh’s Wallander can be quite hot-headed at times too…

      Hang on in there! Hope the series makes it to you soon! The series DVD is out here in August by the look of it.

    • LOL, a friend of mine from Sweden said something similar. To be honest, as much as I like Kenneth Branagh’s works, I am not sure how I would feel if an entirely British cast was to create their version of say, Montalbano *rolleyes* I guess that is why I was never really hooked to Zen. Yes, there’s the occasional Italian actor/actress in the cast, but it just feels too weird to watch, even though the series is not a ‘remake’. Go figure with Wallander, there are already 2 Swedish series out there.

  3. I watched it but I have read all the books with great pleasure and watched all the TV episodes …..and although it was an improvement on Branagh,s last attempt …..I missed the Swedish Wallander sooooo much.I have requested The Swedish DVD,s for Christmas from my Family cheeky I know but they never know what to buy me and I would love to watch them again,thanks Mrs P.

    • Thanks, Vivien! Yes, I can understand why your heart belongs to the Swedish original/s. The one big element I do miss when watching Branagh’s adaptation is the Swedish language. Even though I don’t speak Swedish and have to make do with subtitles, hearing the language still somehow adds to the viewing experience.

  4. I’m with you Mrs P, very good stuff this. I really liked this opening episode, albeit more for the character material than the plot which for me had one coincidence too many [spoiler removed!]. But it also felt like a really substantial 90 minutes – the moment with the [spoiler removed!!] was truly heart-stopping and horrible, while the black humour of Kurt’s last line [spoiler removed!!!], was very well-judged I thought – sad but also a little bit funny.

    Sergio

    • Thanks very much for your comment, Sergio, and apologies for having removed little patches due to Mrs. P’s draconian spoiler rule! Yes, I had a fleeting thought while watching about the number of coincidences, but didn’t think they were too jarring (and one apparent coincidence turned out not to be one in the end). Agree with you about the final line: superb!

    • Still the same song… 😉 ‘Nostalgia’. The arrangements in the opening credits and at the end are slightly different than in series 1&2 but to me, it sounds like the same song. I think they used different bits of the song, so they may sound as 2 songs. You can listen to the song here http://youtu.be/w098rz-rdiQ (original arrangement)

      • Just have to put in another plug for Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, who are utterly fabulous. Her song ‘Pause’ was used as the theme for The Shadow Line, another excellent series, and it what turned me on to her and her music, and I had the great good fortune to see the band perform in Jericho in Oxford last year. You can keep track of her gigs and tours (being an Aussie, she tours the UK frequently) on Facebook, or at her site.

      • Oh, please do. Crime series seem to have excelled in terms of theme music recently – The Killing, The Bridge – and it’s lovely to discover new artists this way.

  5. Pingback: Series 3 of Branagh’s Wallander returns to BBC1 | Mrs. Peabody Investigates

  6. Oh dear…I,m afraid I think the new Wallander is just as bad as the previous ones. The script is awful, stilted and clunky for want of a better word, and it’s all just too theatrical too be good television. For me, it adds nothing to what the Swedish series have already given us. It’s all just a bit silly, Im afraid.

    • Thanks for your comment – good to get a different point of view. Anyone else have doubts about the new series?

      Will you be watching the next episode, Paul, or has the series blown its chances with you now?

      • Mrs. P, The singer is Nina Grannis. I watched the new Wallander series after reading about it on your blog. I kind of liked it. Perhaps it was Brannagh’s restrained acting that got me interested in the series. I agree with you that the visual aspect of the show was quite interesting.
        By the way, I was searching for your review of series 1 and 2 of Wallander, but didn’t find it. I was wondering if I didn’t look in the right place.

      • Thanks for passing on the singer’s name, Ree.

        I’m glad that you’ve had a chance to look at the Wallander. Having an actor of Branagh’s calibre adds considerably, I think (though I know some view his portrayal as *too* restrained).

        I haven’t posted on the first two series as these came out before I started the blog, and there’s been so much good international crime on TV to review since then. The blog more or less coincided with the first series of The Killing, and it’s been all go from there!

  7. Excellent review, Mrs P – chapeau!
    Branagh is a master of subtlety and does the simmering rage about to explode routine better than any other actor I can think of – especially given that he makes it clear the anger stems ultimately from near-total commitment to the job. Agree with all your points, and would simply add that this one is the most visually stunning and thoughtful of the three versions.

    • Thanks, Min, and I agree with you about Branagh’s portrayal of Wallander – nicely put. I’m very much enjoying the visual dimension of the series too.

  8. PS Suspect designer influenced by Hammershøj for int. + Skagen painters, such as Krohg, Locher & the Krøyers for ext. Same ‘look’/’light’. If by any chance you don’t know the SPs, you’re in for a treat.

  9. Excellent review! We just got Episode 1 of this series here in the States. It did not disappoint (me) in any way. Sir Kenneth is – simply put – amazing in this role. Having watched all of them from the beginning – it never ceases to astound me how talented he is. Although I was a little surprised at Vanja’s reaction to his not calling and not making it to the dinner table . If they’ve already been together for two years – as she tells Ann-Brit – and considering the rather unsavory circumstances under which they met – are we to believe that during that time he called her every night & never missed a meal? Once they move in together she’s suddenly put out by his behavior and “can’t believe” that he “didn’t think to call?” Mmmmm. Don’t know about that But, no matter. Watching him work is why we watch. Well, perhaps not the *only* reason…

    • Thanks, Donna. It sounds like you enjoyed that first episode very much! It would be interesting to know how the series has gone down generally in the States. Good reviews? Over here we’ve also have the original Swedish series airing, so are spoiled for choice when it comes to Wallanders and Swedish melancholy 🙂

    • Oh, dear – it’s been a while since I saw it, and can’t quite remember that plot point. I do remember the dogs though (not a happy encounter).

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