Film of Jan Costin Wagner’s Silence on BBC4 tonight (Saturday 23 March)

The film adaptation of Jan Costin Wagner’s Silence (see here for Mrs P. book review) will be shown tonight on BBC4 at 9pm. It’s a German production, Das letzte Schweigen (the final silence), directed by Baran bo Odar, and transposes the Finnish action of the novel to small-town Germany (Costin Wagner is himself German, which may have prompted the switch).

The trailer on the TV/Radio Times website looks promising, although it should be noted the film’s subject matter is quite harrowing.

Here’s a portion of the TV/Radio Times review by Trevor Johnston (contains mild spoilers) :

>> Twenty three years after the unsolved murder of a schoolgirl in a wheat field, another young victim goes missing, in this German thriller that surveys the course of justice from various angles. The perpetrator of the first killing is identified in the very first scene, with the key dilemma revolving around his unwitting accomplice, who is so troubled by events that he disappears and keeps his silence over the decades. There’s certainly an involving moral complexity to Baran bo Odar’s film, though at times it does get bogged down trying to keep tabs on the killers, the investigators and the victims’ families across both time frames. Occasional lapses in credibility notwithstanding, it’s still tense and unsettling fare that treads delicately through difficult territory that involves the abuse of children.<< 

Baran bo Odar was listed by Variety Magazine as one of ’10 Directors to Watch’ in 2011. You can read Variety’s profile of him here – with some comment on the film as well.

Update: I’ve just finished watching the film and thought it was a truly excellent adaptation, faithful in almost every respect to the novel, and conveying its central themes of guilt and grief in an extremely effective way. Some terrific acting (especially from Katrin Sass, who also played a mother in Goodbye Lenin) and the cinematography was wonderful too. Top quality, intelligent (and highly unsettling) crime drama.

20 thoughts on “Film of Jan Costin Wagner’s Silence on BBC4 tonight (Saturday 23 March)

  1. Ooo, sounds good.

    God save the BBC, and isn’t it just wonderful how they’re bringing in so many top-notch foreign programmes — and not dubbed-over, either! Such respect for the audience, at least on BBC4!

    You sure as hell won’t find that anywhere on American television; even PBS is a faint shadow of what it used to be. I never have any qualms about paying my licence fee every year; it is so completely worth it. I don’t know whether folks here really appreciate how good they have it.

    • I totally agree, NomadUK. We’re so very lucky, and I just hope that this regular infusion of international drama (crime or not) continues. It would be lovely to think that there’s been a shift in mainstream UK telly culture and that showing foreign-language programmes with subtitles is accepted as normal rather than radical and edgy!

      I’ve only fully begun to appreciate how fortunate we are here in the UK through talking to other bloggers and crime fans based overseas. They’re all extremely jealous of these wonderful offerings.

      As for the US – I’ve always found the resistance to foreign-language stuff rather strange, given how multicultural the States is. You’d think that Spanish-language films in particular would make it through to the mainstream…

  2. Mrs. P. – So glad they’re bringing this t film. In my opinion it’s a very well-written book and it’ll be interesting to see how it translates. I hope it’ll come to where I live at some point.

    • Me too, Margot. It’s pretty rare to see German-language films on British TV (Italian and Scandi stuff seems to dominate), so I’m really looking forward to it. I hope it reaches you sooner rather than later!

  3. Sounds very good. I hope it gets across the pond sometime in this decade. Maybe we in the U.S. should start a petition campaign to get BBC4 programs shown over here or else made available on PBS. A lot of BBC productions especially series about several British inspectors are shown here. Now, if the network would only pick up global films!
    I would even pay a fee for this!
    Back to the wonderful “The Young Montalbano.”

    • Thanks, Kathy – sounds worth a shot! Out of interest, which British crime series are making it over to you?

      Glad to hear that you’re enjoying ‘The Young Montalbano’ – looking forward to sampling this one.

  4. Lets not forget Sky Arts 1 they also seem to be following BBC4’s lead & screening foreign language dramas. A new one starts on Good Friday, ‘Corleone’ a fact based Italian crime drama.
    Saw a trailer for it while watching ‘Mysteries of Lisbon’, another of their imported dramas.
    Did you catch Silence Mrs P? Will have to get the book to see how closely the film follows it.

    • I don’t have access to this channal, Brian, but those offerings do look good.

      I did catch Silence and thought it was extremely good -and a faithful adaptation in almost all respects (just one plot detail tweaked). There’s a mini-review at the end of my post now.

  5. Interesting to read that since BBC4 introduced their Eurocrime slot on Saturday evenings their ratings for that timeslot have quadrupled. A lesson for other channels that seem to think there isn’t an audience for subtitled films in prime time slots perhaps.

  6. On British series, which come to the U.S., dramas based on Agatha Christie’s books, featuring Miss Marple and Hercule Poiron. The Inspector Lynley episodes, with Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small were shown here a few years ago and then repeated. So, too with Foyle’s War, with Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks (her name!), which I love. Of course, Inspector Morse has visited many times and so has Inspector Lewis.
    Three Aurelio Zen shows, featuring Rufus Sewell, have been shown here.
    And years ago, the Mrs. Bradley shows were on PBS.
    I know I’m leaving out some shows.

    • Thanks very much, Kathy. So it sounds like classic British crime dramas are popular, preferably set in the past (I guess that fits with lots of Americans’ image of the UK?). There’s a new ITV crime drama running here called Broadchurch that’s been compared a little to The Killing. It stars David Tennant (famous here as a former Dr. Who). I’m going to try to catch up with it as it sounds very good. Apparently it’s been bought by BBC America:

  7. TV Update:
    Something new to look out for – there’s a series of Liza Marklund’s Annika Bengtzon novels. Two are airing here over Easter, but I probably won’t have time to watch. Thus far, the only DVDs are the Swedish ones, but given BBC4’s current plans, the odds of the series turning up in the UK are quite good.

    And then there’s the Danish “Dicte” series, about which I don’t know very much. Except that Lars Brygmann is in it, who was also in Borgen and Unit One. This can all start to get confusing after a while! (Actually, I had a similar problem with Silence, at least for the first five minutes – the cast is not short on people who’ve been in other crime films. But it is good.)

    • Annika Bengtzon: Now that’s a series I’d really like to see (please take note BBC4). I haven’t heard of Dicte before, so will have to have a nose and see what I can find out. I know what you mean about criss-crossing actors. Silence had a number of German actors I recognised and the Danish actor who played the caretaker had been in Festen, so I gather… All a bit confusing.

      Have a lovely Easter break.

  8. Okay. How can we get the Annika Bengtzon series over here in the States? I guess they mind end up at MHZ Networks, which sells the dvd sets for international global TV series, and just got Borgen. So, I guess bankruptcy is in my future unless I hide my credit cards.

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