Killing_us_softly_Investigating_in_the_aesthetics_philosophy_and_influence_of_Nordic_Noir_television

Example we are shown an extreme close up of a video

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example, we are shown an extreme close-up of a video camera and then the words ‘REC’ in red, a static head and shoulders shot quietly relaying their memories as they each talk separately into the lens. Defying the order not to smoke, Rust takes a long and intense drag on a Camel cigarette before beginning, indicating to his interviewers (and the audience at home) that he will tell the story in his own meandering manner. ‘The less he moves, and the more softly he speaks’, Alan Sepinwall observes, ‘the more powerful and troubling the performance becomes […]’ (2014). Long conversations between the two cops also fill much of the screen time, Marty slowly and carefully trying to figure out his strange, edgy and enigmatic partner. Tellingly, there is a six-minute uninterrupted tracking-shot at the end of Episode Four which involves Rust raiding a drugs den while undercover. It is cinematic in its ambition, the visual virtuosity of the spectacle requiring little dialogue or story exposition, just one long continuous take that grants the audience the time to fully wallow in the sheer horror of this desperate and broken world. The landscape of the drama also seems to echo the bleak, desolate and barren lives of its characters, our two detectives continually travelling through ‘piquant scenes of rural degradation’ (Nussbaum 2014). Louisiana’s post-Katrina coastal geography is often shot from above, revealing a terrain that seems as dry, arid and tortured as Rust’s slow Texan drawl. There is action, but the overriding mood is of a sombre and quiet desperation. 19
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‘Immersive and dramatic aerial shots of the Louisiana bayou are a counterpoint to the heady, philosophical dialectic between Marty and Rust’, writes St. Laurent. ‘The borderline between the suburbs and the swamp highlights how fine the line is between civilization and wilderness, directing our attention toward the point at which domesticity ends and ferality begins’ (2014). As in Nordic Noir , then, the landscape reflects the gloomy prevailing mood of the story and its unsettling themes. At the end of season one, Rust describes life as a universal fight between light and dark. Based on the night sky, Marty notes that the dark has much more territory. To which his partner replies, ‘Once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning’ (episode 8). What all these dramas have in common is their attempt to employ the detective genre to investigate the often lonely, desolate and isolated lives of its characters. Location is often central to this project, offering a cinematic expression that allows its visual canvas to tell us much about the people, themes and sensibilities at the heart of these narratives. It is arguably television drama coming of age, harnessing the sheer breadth and power of the long-form narrative to embrace and nourish stories that are as visually stunning as film and as complex and multi-layered as the novel. In particular, the slower pace of all these dramas allows them to breathe and to linger on deeper philosophical concerns.
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