Walter Iuzzolino’s series on Channel 4 – Walter Presents – selects the most popular, critically acclaimed television dramas from around the world, allowing anyone with a laptop and Wi-Fi in Britain to falsely feel like they are cultured through watching handpicked shows (such as Spain’s Locked Up to Belgian black-comedy thriller The Out-Laws) for free on Channel 4’s streaming service All 4.
Each week Sinead McCausland will be reviewing a new show that the titular Walter has selected, hopefully encouraging more fans of world drama TV shows that aren’t American. Here are her thoughts on Aquitted.
The first episode of Acquitted, a pensive Norwegian drama centred on Nicolai Cleve Broch’s Aksel Borgen, is split between two worlds: the natural world in the protagonist’s hometown of Lifjord, Norway and modern world of Kuala Lumpur, the city Borgen now lives in. The high-rising skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur mirror the escapist sens ibilities of Borgen, with his having left Lijford in order to escape the mysterious and complex past Acquitted proposes and then explores as each episode continues. It’s this mirroring that is intrinsic to whatmakes Acquitted so entertaining: the narrative split between the concerns of the solar power company Solar Tech against the murder-mystery/crime thriller in which Aksel is placed at the centre, the previously stated nature versus man made, and Askel’s private life merging with his work life coalesce slowly over the series. What results is a build up in suspense that climaxes at the end, leaving viewers with imagery of the first episode and Askel’s line that “looking back won’t get [him] anywhere.” Acquitted is a series which captivates the audience through the each characters’ transformations, particularly Askel’s—he evolves from ignoring his past in episode one to exploring the inner workings of his past self’s psyche throughout episodes throughout the majority of the series.
The natural world, however, is most important in Acquitted (or Frikjent to call it by its original title). The first shot that is introduced to audiences is the vast, mysterious charm of the mountains and woods that surround and create the landscape of Lijford. Presented through an establishing birds-eye-view shot, it’s clear this opening sequence establishes nature as the dominant force; the humans are constantly subject to its beauty and control. It’s in the show’s opening sequence where the theme of nature is reestablished, and where the inner workings of the show are reflected. As images of scenes from pivotal moments in each episode fade in and out of each other, the mirroring narrative theme is established. However, with the dominating presence of nature in the background, it’s clear the show’s appeal lies in what mysteries are looming behind the presence of each character.