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Oh Netflix, how do I watch thy offerings? In Order of Disappearance.

The first weekend of the new year saw a handful more movies being removed from netflix. Among them is the Norwegian language film In Order of Disappearance, so I watched that one while I could.

As is often my custom, I refused to read any of the summary of the film before I watched. Because of that, I didn’t know what to expect. I only knew it starred Stellan Skarsgård, whose work I generally like. In this case, I’m really glad I took the plunge. In Order of Disappearance starts out on a somber note, with the kidnapping and death of the main character’s grown son. It was a good bit into the film before I realized that it is actually kind of funny. About half way through I checked the “categories” for the movie and, sure enough, it is classified as a comedy. This is the second time recently that I was taken by surprise by a Norwegian black comedy. If my small experience is anything to go on, the Norwegians really have a knack for this genre.

I also didn’t realize that this 2014 film was remade in 2019 as an English-language version starting Liam Neeson. I saw ads for that film but dismissed it out of hand. Not only did it look like a cheap knockoff of the Taken series (which itself wasn’t all that great) but, ironically, I figured Neeson is getting too old to star in action movies. Neeson is 67 and a year younger than Skarsgård, although the latter was 62 when the original was released. I never made a connection between the two films until after I had finished watching it and was looking at information on-line. Speaking of on-line, I stumbled across one reference that said that the main character, Nils Dickman, is supposed to be 45.  I guess they are all too old.

In Norway, the title of the film is Kraftidioten. The term translates literally as “The Power Idiot.” I’ve seen those familiar with Norwegian use “The Prize Idiot.” Apparently, this is a term that doesn’t have an English equivalent. The distinction that I read is that, while an “idiot” may be something of a moron, a kraftidiot is decidedly not stupid – he just does stupid things, perhaps through bad character rather than ignorance.

I said the film opened with the death of the son, but that is not quite true. The opening shows long shots of a snowplow clearing remote roads. The film felt very comforting to me, as I myself am huddled up in snowy, cold, and wintery weather. The beautiful landscapes and soothing monotony of a plow pushing through the empty land was really very pleasant. The imagery of winter is repeated throughout the film, sometimes accompanied by music very reminiscent of Fargo. Rural Norway may deserve a support actor award for this film.

I may actually have to watch Cold Pursuit now. The remake had the same director and, from what I’ve read, it pretty much recasts the original film in English. Is it the case here that, figuring in American moviegoers just really don’t like subtitles, the studio thought a straight-up translation was worth the investment? I also want to see if the streak of misogyny that runs through the original survived the trip across the ocean. I started to notice a pattern – every female character turned out to be pretty unpleasant and, one way or another, screwed over their husbands – mostly without cause. It seems like some kind of statement and, furthermore, the kind the wouldn’t fly anymore in this culture. I wonder.