She chews gum incessantly and her personal life is an unmitigated mess. So why am I, and why are so many others, so deeply interested in Sarah Lund (and her amazing sweaters)? Let me back up a bit. If you’re in the U.S., you might have seen a short-lived TV show on AMC called “The Killing.” In that American remake, the main character was called Sarah Linden. In the original Danish, she was Sarah Lund.
I don’t even remember how I heard originally about the series, called Forbrydelsen (The Crime), but, once I did a little online research, I had to see it — in the original Danish (with English subtitles), of course. The challenge of finding it — it’s only available on PAL format DVDs — was probably part of the allure, as was the promise of practicing my Danish and revisiting the country where I spent 5 months as a study abroad student.
Television these days has become — through the magic of Twitter and Facebook — an increasingly communal activity. It’s not quite like the days when there were only 3 or 4 channels, so the audiences for every show were bigger and water cooler conversation about the big hits was commonplace. But, as with many things Internet-enabled, it’s possible to find your tribe.
Watching this series has been a bit of a lonely experience, by contrast. My friends in the UK understand, but my husband thinks the show, with its dead-serious topics and Scandinavian winter light, is depressing. (Maybe I’m writing this blog post in an effort to find like-minded obsessives?)
Instead I see a fascinating troubled character in Lund, and I get a peek into some of the things that I love(d) about Denmark, Danish culture and its filmmaking (does anyone besides me remember Babette’s Feast?).
First, the emphasis on simple, useful but beautiful design. In a murder investigation, one gets to peer into a lot of homes and offices at various socioeconomic levels. No matter the circumstances, once nearly always finds something sød and hyggelig in the home — something sweet and cozy to brighten up the Scandinavian chill.
Lund, with her trademark sweaters, also embodies the practical and beautiful. Here are these uber-traditional sweaters, obviously hand-knitted, chunky and slightly imperfect. They look a little like something you’d imagine on a Norwegian skier back in the day. (Though they’re not cheap by any stretch.)
Yet, the way she wears them, with snug-fitting jeans and, often, a jacket on top — they manage to look modern and hip. She hardly wears any makeup, and her hair can be a bit unruly in the Danish wind, but she’s all about getting the job done, rather than worrying about appearances.
I’m watching the third season of the show right now — the latest — and I’m taking a break to write this and slow down, so I can savor my visits to this other faraway world. To let it go by so quickly and without remark, without a smile and a clink of glasses where you make sure your eyes meet, well, that wouldn’t be Danish, would it?
One of the joys of living in New York was the people watching. Maybe you try to be subtle about it, but, if you’re not looking at the masses of people you pass every day — wondering about where they’re from, what their lives are like, about the relationships between them, and what they value — you’re missing out.
This sensibility is brought to life in a great blog (and Facebook page) I discovered in the last few months — Humans of New York (HONY). Thanks to photographer Brandon Stanton, every day, and sometimes more than once a day, I am treated with photos of ordinary, and not so ordinary, people encountered on the streets of New York City. I especially love the photos of the youngest and the oldest New Yorkers.
Often the best part is the caption, which features a quote from the person or people pictured and gives some insight into their internal life. It almost makes me feel like I never left.
Tonight marks the debut of a television show, called Elementary, based on the characters and adventures from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” detective stories. It’s just the latest in a series of recent adaptations, from the 2009 movie starring Robert Downey Jr., to the BBC’s Sherlock, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch and co-starred Martin Freeman (Tim from The Office).
The most interesting twist about this latest effort is Lucy Liu’s portrayal of a female Dr. Watson.
“The only research I did was actually reading the literature,” Liu said in an interview aired on NPR. “When you read it, it’s so current, it doesn’t feel like it was written in the 1800’s. You feel like you really are reading something that’s fresh and funny and you know why it’s in movies and television and people are constantly trying to bring back these characters, because they’re fascinating. They’re unique.”
All this to say that I’d highly recommend doing the same research as Liu. And, guess what? Many of the Sherlock Holmes stories — like the other books I recommended recently — are free for the Kindle. Here are a few of the fascinating tales I’ve read recently:
3. His Last Bow
And many more….
P.S. Who knew Dr. House‘s character was based on Sherlock Holmes? Totally makes sense, now that I think about it.