Fans of Henning Mankell’s Wallender books and crime dramas on TV should look for the Swedish production of Wallender on Netflix instant viewing. The three seasons of this series, 32 episodes total, are the best film interpretation of the Wallender character. Season 2, with 13 episodes, and season 3, with six episodes, are currently available for your Netflix streaming list.
After the commercial success of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Stieg Larson series, many fans of mystery and crime novels discovered a treasure chest of Nordic noir with Henning Mankell’s Wallender series in the top drawer. The best selling books are popular on both sides of the Atlantic; it is only natural that film versions would be made. There are two Wallender TV series on Netflix to choose from. The BBC series starring Kenneth Branagh is, perhaps, the best known. True Wallender devotees are more likely to enjoy the Swedish Yellow Bird production, officially titled “Henning Mankell’s Wallender.”
Two seasons of thirteen episodes each were made in 2005-06 and 2008-09. A small handful of the episodes were released theatrically, but most were made for television and DVD release. With one or two exceptions, the episodes are not taken directly from the books, but Henning Mankell did suggest storylines for the series. This may be why the show feels very true to the style of the books.
Krister Henriksson stars as Kurt Wallender. His Wallender is a little softer edged than in the books, but still crusty and cranky when things are not going well. His personal life – and he does not have much of one – is also less complicated than in the books. Katarina Ahlsell, played by Lena Endre, a prosecuting attorney that has just moved to Ystad from Malmo, becomes a potential romantic interest for Kurt. All of the characters feel very realistic, like regular folks, as opposed to the image of police and crime solvers as they are more often portrayed on TV.
The themes in the Wallender series are typical for Mankell. Racial stereotyping, profiling, general social unease and the dangers of making assumptions without sufficient information are all prominent plot elements at one time or another. The stories move along at a comfortable clip, neither slow or overly rushed. The Sweden portrayed is not the one seen in travel magazines and shows. It is often bleak, wet and cold, in keeping with the general feel of isolation in Mankell’s books.
Put Henning Mankell’s Wallender on your Netflix movie list for hours of watching. With two seasons and almost 20 episodes at 90 minutes each, you will be entertained for many evenings. Unfortunately, only the second and third season of the Swedish Wallender are currently on Netflix. You can jump right in at the beginning of season 2; do watch them sequentially.