The Killing: Volume One (2007)
By: Rip on November 5, 2010  | 
SBS | All Regions, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Danish DD 2.0 | 550 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Creator: Soren Sveistrup
Starring: Sofie Grabel, Lars Mikkelsen, Bjarne Henriksen, Ann Eleonora J°rgensen, Marie Askehave
Country: Denmark
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Recently screening on SBS television to rave reviews, I was surprised to find upon coming to review this 20 part Danish crime series, is that it was actually made back in 2007. That it took all this time to arrive on our shores is somewhat surprising, but as they say in the classics, better late than never. But attempting to describe the plot is no easy task, as it contains more twists than a pretzel factory, and to say too much, is to give away too much, so I'll tread carefully here with an outline of Season One.

A young woman runs through a forest at night, bloodied with torn clothes and in abject terror of an unseen pursuer. Or is that pursuers? We can't tell and we aren't supposed to know. The last time we see her, she is hiding behind a tree in fear, as a shaft of torchlight moves closer and closer. The scene cuts away to the homicide division of a Copenhagen police department and we meet senior detective Sarah Lund (Sofie Grobel). This is her last day in the department, as she is about to move to Sweden with her teenage son, where she'll meet up with her boyfriend, move in to a newly built home and begin a whole new life. Then a call comes in about a missing college student, so Sarah and her rather grumpy partner, Jan Meyer (Soren Malling), are sent to investigate. Cut again, this time to married couple Theis (Bjarne Henriksen) and Pernille Birk Larsen (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen), who also appear to be starting a new life, having just bought a larger new home to jointly accommodate their removal business and family, that includes two young sons and teenage daughter, Nanna. Within a matter of hours, their new beginning will be turned upside down.

Moving back to the police investigation, we find Sarah Lund and Jan Meyer scouring a forest, but finding few clues. Lund and Meyer interview Pernille Birk Larsen who reports that daughter Nanna has not returned home and then gradually, it becomes clear that she is the missing girl. The detectives speak with Nanna's school friends, but they appear to know nothing of her whereabouts. Or do they? On top of that, Nanna's ex-boyfriend has skipped class and can't be found, and her best friend seems to be holding something back. On this very same day, Mayoral election time is formally announced. Incumbent Poul Bremer (Bent Mejding) and challenger Troels Hartmann (Lars Mikkelsen) are going head to head to debate the future of the city. Cutting once again to a car being pulled from a canal, we witness the discovery of a body in the boot. It is the body of a young female and, unsurprisingly, that of Nanna the missing student and daughter of the Birk Larsen's. The biggest surprise of all however, is that the car is registered to the challenger's election team. And so the mystery of The Killing begins.

There has been a number of truly great mini-series over the many years, going right back to the 1970's when the format first took place, with the likes of Rich Man, Poor Man, Roots, etc. And Volume One of Denmark's The Killing is right up there with the best of them. With a timeline structure presented as one day for each episode, the writing (by series creator Soren Sveistrup) and direction are nothing short of masterful, and the performances by every single actor are exemplary. In particular, Sofie Grabol is wonderfully cool and understated as Sarah Lund, with Bjarne Henriksen's work as grieving father Theis Birk Larsen coming off as a powerful exercise in 'less is more' and Lars Mikkelsen (brother of Mads Mikkelsen who played the scar-faced villain in Casino Royale) is outstanding as the suave politician Troels Hartmann. Even the 'bit' players are highly memorable. Special mention must also be made of the terrific, pounding theme music and overall creepy soundtrack.
Volume One of The Killing is given a stellar transfer through SBS/Madman Entertainment. The series' cinematography mirrors the darkness of the narrative, with its shadowy palette of blues, greys, browns and blacks and is presented flawlessly here. The picture quality is as sharp as a tack, with not a hint of digital nasties.
Whilst we don't get a 5.1 mix, the 2 channel Dolby Surround track is very enveloping in itself, with good top and bottom end. The somber and moody soundtrack comes off beautifully. Presented in its original Danish language with English subtitles in a clear yellow font.
Extra Features
Not an iota to be found, but the A/V quality and the production itself is so good, you won't care too much at all.
The Verdict
Television doesn't get much better than The Killing, and after being completely absorbed by these first 10 episodes over the last fortnight or so, I can hardly wait to see the remaining 10 in Volume Two. And I'll be back right here to review them, along with an overall summary of this dark and compelling series.
Movie Score
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