Across the Pond: A Latin American Perspective of Scandinavian Cinema

From the point of view of a middle class Colombian, Scandinavia sometimes seems like a whole different universe, a universe where peace is around gorgeous people enjoying the midnight sun and the northern lights in modern cities and enchanting towns surrounded by the cold white snow. However this ideal image has gradually changed thanks to globalization, which affects all continents, from great welfare states to developing countries. This impact is not to be seen as something negative but as something able to bring different cultures together under certain elements that can be mutual among international strangers, elements that have repercussions in the collective consciousness such as cinema or television.

So, even when the Nordic countries are still really far away, it’s possible through movies and shows, that they can bring any viewer closer, although sadly they were not very globally recognized, not until now where the era of Nordic noir crime stories began to build a memorable reputation for Scandinavian filmmaking. The peaceful countries became dark places of unimaginable crimes, or that’s what a first impression might indicate but if the viewers can look beyond that superficial illusion then they can see beautiful narratives about the human nature shared by any citizen of any nationality; the crimes allow the characters to deal with raw feelings and help people realize that part of their quality lies in the study of these deep feelings. Of course this ability isn’t limited to the crime genre, but in general is well managed by drama productions in the whole region with classic films just like Carl Th. Dreyer’s Ordet and Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal or directors like Lars Von Trier that use his unique style to develop slow, condensed and dark plots around complex characters going under a sea of conflicting emotions; even in stories with completely different circumstances, like Dancer in the Dark and Melancholia, there’s a shared tone of heart-breaking gloom and sorrow.

Latin America definitely is not indifferent to social dramas; the continent is the centre of huge inequality that produces poverty, hunger and violence. We have countries like Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Peru racing towards oblivion of the past and the construction of a new beginning; Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador and the countries of Central America fighting against corruption; and the southern states of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay leading the improvement of human development indexes but still struggling with other issues regarding inequity. Then it is very reasonable to say that Latin America has to deal with a great amount of problems, more than Nordic countries, but sadly the media representation aimed to help some social troubles in Latin America is not enough, the representation is centred around mediocre stories that repeat themselves over and over trying to imitate the popularity of American media translating it into an effective formula to maintain viewers but failing to make social changes. And that’s what is different and important about the Scandinavia cinema, the perfect way of showing memorable and interesting plots but always trying to make a good change in the communal mind of the people.

No matter the country one was born in or the culture that represent oneself, the reproduction of diverse and intelligent stories brought by Scandinavia cinema can be understood by anyone who has dealt with complicated drama in their life because even just a little disagreement can bring a mix of feelings, even a small cry of raw sadness can make a society reflect about themselves.

Download the article here: Across the Pond

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