It is, as well as being exceedingly good, all exceedingly Scandinavian.
I was thinking about this the other night when I'd gone to the cinema. I was sitting in there, waiting for the movie, and the trailers came on. Normally I like this bit. Anyway, the trailers started. I can't even remember what they were for, just what I thought as they rolled away. 'An American story', I thought, and then the same thing, and then the same thing again. There was something with lots of explosions, a man wrongly accused of an air crash and a film about Lincoln. And I felt like I'd seen them all, already.
Now, to be clear, I have nothing against a story told by Americans, made by Americans, with Americans in it. What I mean is the type of narrative, the underlying story which drives the thing along.
Personally, as somebody who writes stories, I think that stories are massively important to people. They help people make sense of the world around them. They also influence people in fundamental ways, in teaching them what is important, their place in the universe, and how they should deal with people.
|Man with Gun: So very 20th Century|
It's not like the Americans are the only country whose films mirror their national obsessions. British films are often about class, French films are often about sex. The most successful German films in recent years have been about moral redemption from dictatorship and political excess: the only South African film to have been internationally successful is a comedy about conflict between species. It's just that the Americans have a larger and better-funded film and TV industry than the rest of these countries, and that's why, often, you're watching an American narrative, with all this entails.
|Tired-looking woman making compromises: so very 21st Century.|
And yet, I think this is why people like her. She is, in the end, like us: she lives in an ordinary house and struggles, on a daily basis, to do the right thing in trying, contradictory circumstances. She isn't always terribly ethical, and she isn't always right or successful. But unlike many of the politicians in the real world, she does have one redeeming quality, which is that she does actually care. Also, she keeps on caring, and trying to sort it out, long past the point where most of us would have thrown in the towel. And for that, she is a hero, and you're left in no doubt of it.
The thing is, she is a hero of a different kind. She doesn't ever stride out into the desert, or do anything alone. She is part of a web of people, some helpful, some compliant, some absolutely mad or malign. And this, this web of interdependence, is the thing that you will never see in an American story. And it was as I was sitting there, in the cinema, that I thought of how very very bored I was of seeing that same old story, played out again and again.