Status: 04.12.2023, 09:38 a.m.
By: Sven Trautwein
Most of the time, a film adaptation of a bestseller is not long in coming. For "Events on the Water" it was almost three decades.
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For several decades now, Scandinavian thrillers have been a sure-fire success. They are sold rapidly in bookstores. Gradually, a large number of films were made, for example currently "The Lie" by Mattias Edvardsson as an adaptation on Netflix. 30 years after its publication, Kerstin Ekman's "Events on the Water" can now be found in the ARD media library. It's definitely worth taking a look at the book and the film adaptation.
Kerstin Ekman "Events on the Water": That's what the book is about
Kerstin Ekman's crime thriller "Happenings on the Water" was filmed for television 30 years after it was published. © TT/Imago/Piper (Mounting)
"Events on the Water" by Kerstin Ekman is a classic of Scandinavian crime fiction. The Scandinavians in particular have a long tradition of the Nordic noir genre. Kerstin Ekman's crime novel is not a typical dark and gloomy representative of Nordic Noir, but is more likely to be found in novels on the color-assorted bookshelf than in crime novels. It is therefore somewhat reminiscent of the books of Håkan Nesser, who is also often referred to as the philosophical crime writer.
Midsummer 1974: The young teacher Annie Raft wanders through the forests of northern Sweden with her young daughter, looking for her boyfriend Dan, who actually wanted to pick her up. On the way, she notices a foreign-looking man, and a little later she makes a gruesome discovery: a tent with the bodies of two young people. Eighteen years later, Annie sees her now grown-up daughter in the arms of the same stranger – a fascinating story in the gloomy milieu of the northern Swedish wilderness.
30 years after the publication of the book, the film adaptation is coming to television. In Sweden, where the six-part series under the title "Blackwater" started, it caused a lot of enthusiasm. First and foremost, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), is the actor Rolf Lassgård, who can be seen as the main character in the film adaptation and is remembered by many as Kurt Wallander from the Mankell adaptations from 1994 to 2007.
For Rolf Lassgård, "Events on the Water" is a kind of national epic, as he reveals in an interview with the FAZ. He himself comes from the area where the book's story takes place and immediately felt very familiar with the story and the atmosphere. The bar for the film adaptation is high. In 1994, the crime novel was awarded the Nordic Council Literature Prize.
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Kerstin Ekman "Events in the Water": A murder case shakes a Swedish municipality
The investigation into this gruesome murder case remains unsuccessful for 18 years. Numerous inconsistencies in the statements and actions of supposedly innocent people, including the shopkeeper and the residents of the commune, complicate the investigation. From then on, the inhabitants of the village and the commune live with the fear of having an unidentified murderer in their midst. However, this also attracts tourists, so many residents lose interest in solving the murder case and keep their assumptions and conclusions to themselves. Annie leaves the commune due to an unwanted pregnancy and the fear of the perpetrator and sleeps behind her bed with a shotgun from then on.
The murder case also has drastic consequences for other main characters in the novel. The doctor Birger Torbjörnsson, who had observed important details for the clarification, is abandoned by his wife. Johan Brandberg, the alleged Seed, who had been tortured by his brothers the night before the murder and therefore fled, remains suspicious and moves to Norway. Police officer Ake Vemdal is suspended from the investigation due to personal involvement and leaves the service, but keeps unauthorized copies of the investigation files, which later help solve the case.
Kerstin Ekman's novel is convincing and is in the tradition of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, which is about the prehistory and the changes in people caused by the events. All this taken together makes the book and the film adaptation worth reading and watching.
Kerstin Ekman "Events on the Water"
2010 Piper, ISBN-13 978-3-492-95161-6
Price: E-book 8,99 €, 576 pages (different format)
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Born in 1933 in Risinge (Östergötland), Kerstin Ekman is one of Sweden's most important writers today. Her extensive and award-winning literary work has been translated into 28 languages and even made into a film. After a break of more than ten years, Ekman returns to the novel form with "Wolf Lights". Immediately after its publication, the book topped the Swedish bestseller list and was honoured with the "Norrlands litteraturpris 2022" and the "Culture Prize of the Nature & Culture Foundation 2023", among others. Kerstin Ekman celebrated her 27th birthday on August 2023, 90.
This article was created with the help of machine support and carefully reviewed by editor Sven Trautwein before publication.