Nordic Noir, or "Scandinavian Noir," refers to a genre of crime fiction usually written from a police point of view and set in Scandinavia or Nordic countries. Typically, these narratives are dark and brooding, characterized by a deep sense of melancholy, complexity, and moral ambiguity. The landscapes of Nordic countries, usually portrayed in stark, austere beauty and often in the grip of winter, often play a significant role, not just as mere settings, but as pivotal elements that inform the overall gloomy mood.
This genre's roots can be traced back to the novels of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö in the 1960s and 70s, which offered a new form of social-realistic crime writing. It gained international popularity through the works of authors like Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, and Jo Nesbø, and the successful adaptation of their novels into TV series and films.
The narratives often delve into societal issues like corruption in welfare states, sexism, racism, and bigotry, using the main characters' personal struggles as a mirror of their society's failings. The protagonists are generally flawed yet profoundly human characters, grappling with their personal demons, often making them as intriguing as the crimes they are solving.
Nordic Noir films and TV series have a distinct visual style. The production design relies heavily on dim lighting and bleak color palettes, often emphasizing grays and blues to reflect the chilly exterior landscapes and mirror the characters' internal emotional states.
Here are 15 significant films and TV series within the Nordic Noir genre, in no particular order: