Sir Kenneth Branagh on Wallander’s last cases.
WALLANDER | Kenneth Branagh and director Benjamin Caron on the detective’s farewell...
Eight years on from the first episode, Kenneth Branagh’s Kurt Wallander has bowed out with a fourth and final series. As you’d expect, the team behind the drama are now reflecting on its success. “Was that the beginning of what became Nordic Noir?” asks Wallander director Benjamin Caron of the 2008 series. “It certainly opened up an interest in that particular type of drama.”
Branagh admits there was a “big conversation” before they decided to do an Englishlanguage version filmed in Ystad, the setting of Henning Mankell’s novels. “There were lots of doubts,” Branagh recalls. “Because you think, ‘Okay, so English guy drives up to a Swedish street sign, how does that work?’ We just accepted there would be a point up to which you could go where you’re offering a Scandinavian flavour.”
The vast, flat landscape of southern Sweden is also a key character in this series, though Branagh concedes that Mankell’s “poetic imagination” was at work in the books. “I already felt what I read was not going to be what I found [ in Ystad] and that was true,” he says of filming the first series. “Somebody came for the weekend and said, ‘This is a bit like Basingstoke isn’t it?’ They kind of expected it to be a bit more arid and Nordic.”
In Series 4, Wallander has a stronger relationship with his daughter and he’s close to his granddaughter. “In Wallander terms, he’s happy at the start of the show,” says Branagh. “Unfortunately, it comes at exactly the moment when – in the same poignant way as this connection to his granddaughter – he also seems to have a genetic connection to his father that means he is now challenged by dementia.”
Following the opening film set in South Africa, the final two episodes are based on Mankell’s last Wallander novel, The Troubled Man. “There’s a race against time that becomes a phenomenal drive,” says Branagh of the detective’s efforts to solve a case that threatens his family. Wallander’s failing health is powerfully portrayed by Branagh, who’s already won a Bafta for this role as the brooding Swedish cop. “I was glad when those scenes were done,” he adds. “They’re both a pleasure and a privilege to play but they do get under the skin a bit.”
The filming of the final series occurred amid a serious illness for Mankell, who died last October. “Henning was ill at that time, we saw him and just the weight of knowing that things were very tough for him, the experience was loaded,” says Branagh. He describes the author, who often visited the set of Wallander over the years, as an “inspiration”.
Wallander Series 4 is available on BBC iplayer and www.bbcstore.com.
“SOMEBODY CAME TO YSTAD AND SAID ‘IT’S A BIT LIKE BASINGSTOKE, ISN’T IT?’”
Linda (Jeany Spark) repairs her relationship with father Kurt (Kenneth Branagh, above) in Series 4.