Tag: Paul McGillion

Midnight Sun: It’s The Killing meets Spiral, Abba covers Je t’aime

Midnight Sun: It’s The Killing meets Spiral, Abba covers Je t’aime

Dreams çome true at night.

A glamorous Parisian cop investigates a death in remote northern Scandinavia in this intriguing series opener. Plus: Mystery of the Man on the Moor.

Here’s an A-level physics question. A middle-aged Frenchman is tied to the rotor blade of a helicopter, head facing out, away from the axis. Actually, it’s not important that he’s French or middle-aged, but it adds colour. Anyway, the helicopter is started up, and the rotor begins to rotate, accelerating at an angular rate of x rad/sec⁲. Given that the ultimate tensile strength of middle-aged French neck is y MPa, how long before Pierre literally loses his head?

It has been a while since I did physics A-level; some extra data may be required – thickness of neck, mass of head, distance from axis of rotation. And does Coriolis force come into it? A fascinating problem, though, I think you’ll agree. The answer appears to be about about 35 seconds, according to Midnight Sun (Sky Atlantic).

It certainly makes for an arresting/memorable/horrible opening sequence. We – the helicopter, Pierre, his now scattered head – are in the far north of Sweden. What is this smartly dressed, wealthy French chap doing here, and what has he done to deserve this grim demise?

That’s what jaded local prosecutor Rutger (Peter Stormare) has to find out. With help from his timid, dithering sidekick, Anders (Gustaf Hammarsten), and glamorous Parisian cop Kahina (Leïla Bekhti). The investigation, and the series, is a Swedish-French collaboration, The Killing meets Spiral, Abba covers Je t’aime, köttbullar au vin. It’s a promising flavour combination, gory and gothic, even if the meat may be a little underdone for some palates.

Dreams Come True at Night

The Swedes are reassuringly straight-talking, stoic, gloomy and pale; Kahina combines ridiculous north African beauty with comedy shruggy-chic Gallic cool, pffff. Everyone has the requisite personal complications – relationships, families, ghosts, miseries. A little humanness to add to the beastliness.

There’s stuff going on underground in Kiruna as well, rumblings and cracks opening up. Because of the mine. Mother, the locals call her. She produces enough iron ore every day to make six Eiffel Towers. I hope it’s just a mine, and that Midnight Sun isn’t going to go all otherworldly Fortitude nonsense.

And because of the latitude and the fact that it’s midsummer, everyone’s a little mad. Kahina can’t sleep; there’s something of Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia about it. Perhaps the handsome helicopter pilot will help her…

Hello, who’s this, though, naked and chained to a rock? Prometheus? Not quite the right part of the world, it’s probably something to do with Thor. And it’s not an eagle that visits, but wolves, a pack of them. Aaarwwwooo! Shoo! Noo! Oww! The man is missing a foot … well, that’s better than a head I guess, but he’s got wounds all over, cuts, he’s lost loads of blood. He manages to get one word out: järv. Which means not wolf, but wolverine. Intriguing…

Dreams Come True at Night

Mystery of the Man on the Moor (Channel 4) tells another story of a body found in a wild, remote place. Only this time it’s not fiction. There are no wolverines – or wolves – on Saddleworth Moor in the Peak District, but there was strychnine in the body, and that’s not something Oldham CID comes across every day.

You’ll remember it: the man, inappropriately dressed for the outdoors, with no identification, who, after months and months of police work, was found to be David Lytton, former London Underground driver, who had recently spent time in Pakistan. This documentary follows that painstaking investigation. And it’s both totally engrossing and ultimately a bit disappointing.

Engrossing because of the extraordinary nature of the case, the enigma of David and his death. The film has access to his brother, Jeremy, and to his former girlfriend Maureen, who contribute something to who David was and to the human side of the story. But it’s disappointing because in the end I didn’t learn very much that I hadn’t already read.

Dreams Come True at Night

I realise this was the story of the investigation and it wasn’t going to find answers to the fundamental questions the police and the inquest hadn’t. Such as: why had he come to the Pennines? And was it really suicide?

But a documentary, and what you want from it, isn’t always the same as an investigation. There was one area in particular I feel should have been explored further: Pakistan.

We got a tiny tantalising glimpse of David’s life in Lahore, on some footage of his flat the man from the National Crime Agency brought back. That was it, though. The crew didn’t go there, didn’t track down his new girlfriend, or the man who helped David buy a house there.

Maybe, as his brother says: “The fact that it didn’t make sense makes perfect sense.” But I wanted to know what the hell a Jewish Londoner who hated the heat was doing living in Lahore for 10 years. And it would have been a better film if it made more effort to find out.

View for Midnight Sun production notes.

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