Friday, February 5, 2010

Actor as critic...

If memory serves (unlikely) it was Michael Caine who asserted that the most important social function actors perform is "explaining human beings to themselves." Every so often they can also explicate a text.

The astonishing depth and texture of Kenneth Branagh's performance in the BBC "Wallander" series, some of the best acting I've seen in years, sent me back to the Henning Mankell novels with a new appreciation of the richness of this often crabby and off-putting character. What's more, it inspired me to try again, with far more satisfying results so far, an author of "literary mysteries" much recommened by readers of good taste, always a group whose genre fiction recommendations are to be embraced with caution.

A sad footnote is that the Menkell novel I picked up was the first and now last that will feature the rapidly aging Chief Inspector's daughter Linda as successor protagonist. Menkell abandoned this excellent plan when the actress who played Linda in the Swedish TV adaptation of the story, who had become a friend, committed suicide.

1 comment:

Tulkinghorn said...

You've put your finger on what is to me one of the few compelling reasons to adapt fiction to the screen.

I'm really glad that the Atkinson books are getting better traction for you this time around...

The better news is that there are three more Branagh Wallanders coming and that he's committed -- if anyone asks -- to continue until he's done them all.