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‘A typical Icelandic murder?’ The ‘criminal’ adaptation of Jar City

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The domestic and international success of Baltasar Kormákur’s crime thriller Mýrin/ Jar City (2006) is indicative of important changes in both the production and reception of Icelandic films. Prior to its release the few Icelandic films that had been distributed internationally, including Kormákur’s own 101 Reykjavík (2000), had catered explicitly to foreign audiences by adhering to the norms of the European art film. By contrast, Jar City is a locally produced film, shot in Icelandic, which uses none of Icelandic cinema’s customary narrative strategies to appeal to a foreign audience. However, belonging to the well-known crime-film genre, Jar City is easily apprehended by any audience despite its local flavour and distinctly Icelandic crime. Notably, Jar City also exemplifies a wave of Icelandic crime films and television series, constituting a fundamental shift from the model of the European art film to one of generic Hollywood production.

Keywords: Arnaldur Indriðason; Baltasar Kormákur; Icelandic cinema; Jar City; adaptation; crime fiction

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Iceland

Publication date: October 15, 2010

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  • The Journal of Scandinavian Cinema is a new scholarly journal devoted to film in the Scandinavian countries. It aims to become the prime site for excellent research and engaging discussions on cinema in Scandinavia, both within the national context of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and as a region existing in a globalized world.
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