Saga’s Story: emotional engagement in the production and reception of The Bridge
Annette Hill, Department of Communication and Media, Lund University, on Nordic Noir:
“Saga’s Story: emotional engagement in the production and reception of The Bridge”
This research examines how producers, performers and audiences co-produce emotional engagement with the characters, narratives and settings of the Nordic crime drama The Bridge (Filmlance International and Endemol Shine). The research uses a cultural approach to the issues of genre, affect and emotion, exploring how executive and creative producers, artistic performers, and audiences all perform specific practices that culminate in the co-production of intense engagement with this crime drama.
The character of Saga Noren is a rich site of analysis for research on affective structures and emotional engagement, as this female detective struggles with the very notion of emotion in her drive to solve crimes (see Turnbull 2014). A key research question concerns how genre, affect and emotion are interwoven in the fine details of the production of this crime drama and audience engagement with it. The research uses qualitative, ethnographic production and audience research to explore emotional engagement.
The fieldwork took place during 2013-2016, with 40 production interviews with executive and creative producers and performers, and 170 viewers in a combination of individual interviews, focus groups and participant observations in Sweden, Denmark, and Great Britain. For Filmlance, The Bridge has become Saga’s story across three seasons, a character that symbolises relationship dynamics, moral dilemmas, and political and cultural tensions. The way to tell Saga’s story did not emerge fully formed, but was the result of collaborative creative and emotional labour (Hochschild 2003, Hesmondhalgh and Baker 2011). This research on the crafting of affect and emotional engagement is combined with the work that audiences also undertake in the process of reception. Genre work encapsulates the various ways audiences engage with genre as both storytelling and a means of reflecting on the genre itself (Hill 2007). The concept of ‘genre work’ is useful in helping to capture and critically analyse Nordic noir from multiple perspectives, taking into account the complex ways in which this genre is a co-creation between industries and audiences (Hill and Turnbull 2017). In the case of The Bridge, it involves audiences’ immersive experience of the drama, for example their reactions to Saga, her work colleagues, her cultural identity, and it involves audiences’ reflections on the crime genre and their own sense of identity as viewers. These findings suggest that there is a need for a situated understanding of emotional engagement with television crime drama with regard to the ways in which practices in production contexts co-create and shape cultures of viewing.
Time: 3-5 PM, followed by drinks and snacks in the lunch room.
Venue: G335, Paradisgatan 5