In Germany: Aired on Sky Deutschland in January
In the UK: Wednesdays, 8pm, Sky Atlantic
It’s always fascinating to see what countries make of a killer format such as The Bridge – not just to see whether they can do it better, but because it can tell you something about the original, as well as themselves.
The original Bron/Broen was a Swedish-Danish co-production that saw two police officers, one from Sweden, one from Denmark, investigating a dead body found on the bridge between the two countries at the exact border.
It set the world on fire, largely thanks to the performance of Sofia Helin as top Swedish autist detective Saga Norin, but also because of its clever use of Danish and Swedish culture. Both detectives were respective stereotypes of one another’s countries, Norin the icy, rich, unbending Swede of Danish minds, Martin the personable, maybe slightly too greyly shaded, slightly righter wing, over-emotional Dane of Swedish minds.
The show then went on to add nuance to those stereotypes and show how these exaggerated versions weren’t actually representatives of the two countries, but people with their own quirks causing them to be the way they are.
Since then we’ve had lots of different versions lined up around the world, with versions still to come in Africa and Asia.
The first version, set on the US/Mexican border, revealed lots of unconscious biases in the US adaptors’ minds. Norin’s female equivalent might have been autistic, too, but she was clearly a defective detective, unable to match Demián Bichir’s manly Mexican and neuro-typical might – or maintain the writers’ interest. There wasn’t much the show had to say good about Mexico (it’s corrupt and dangerous) or bad about the US (it’s understaffed and overly liberal), either. That maybe tells you a little about the US’s attitudes towards itself, Mexico, the disabled and/or women.
But the French-British The Tunnel proved a much better affair. While largely faithful to the original plot, beyond locating the original body in an, erm, tunnel, it chose to undermine the stereotypes while maintaining the same roles, giving us a much more personable Brit than his icy, computing French counterpart. Quelle surprise, but it was amusing, to be fair.
With a heap of very good British writers on staff, the show had lots to say about Britain, particularly Kent. But it had almost nothing to say about the French or France that couldn’t have been culled from a Daily Mail headline, exposing British self-centredness, ego and unfamiliarity within anything even 30 miles away.
Der Pass (Pagan Peak)
And now we have the next The Bridge in line: the German-Austrian co-production Der Pass (Pagan Peak). And it’s possibly the best – perhaps even better than the original Bron/Broen. It also has a few things to say about Germans and Austrians.
This new version, the third original drama for Sky Deutschland following its superb Babylon Berlin and Das Boot (The Boat), is also the adaptation that diverges most from Bron/Broen. Set in the mountains between Germany and Austria, once again, it sees a body found on the exact border between two countries. As a result, the two nations send their own detectives to investigate: the German Ellie Stocker (Julia Jentsch) and the Austrian Gedeon Winter (Nicholas Ofczarek).
Here, though, storylines diverge quickly as we learn that the murder evokes concepts in ancient pagan rituals, such as the Green Man and the Celtic wood god Cernunnos, as well as the Austro-German Christmas tradition of the Krampus. Who is this Krampus Killer and what does he want?
The answer my friends will involve the phrase ‘liminal boundaries’ and an exploration of the double meaning of the German word ‘Grenze’. It will also be discussed – in only slightly spoilery fashion – after the trailer and the jump. See you in a mo.Continue reading “Boxset Tuesday: Der Pass (Pagan Peak) (season one) (Germany: Sky 1; UK: Sky Atlantic)”