24 November 2023

“Blackport”, series created by Gisli Örn Gardarsson, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson and Nina Dögg Filippusdotti.


Grand Prize of the Series Mania Festival, 2021 edition, the Icelandic series Blackport took some time to reach French screens, despite the fact that Arte is co-producer of the project. Sufficient time for a warm word of mouth to surround this ambitious production that came from the cold, but which does not, for once, follow in the footsteps of “Scandinoir”. Rooted in the 1980s, Blackport recalls a major episode in the economic history of this very small country (243,000 inhabitants in 1986), which, at the time, still lived essentially on its fishing resources.

The establishment of fishing quotas, officially intended to preserve the seabed from overexploitation, leads to a rise in the price of fish capable of whetting the appetites of Harpa and Jon. He is a ship’s captain, she runs the small local fish-processing business that employs the majority of the members of a tiny community in the west of the country.

An extreme benevolence

The exoticism of place, time and subject greatly benefits the first episodes of Blackport, impressive in their way of telling the big story through the tiny stories of the Icelanders. The political and social changes affecting the country at this time, and foreshadowing its conversion to liberalism, are finely dissected in the light of their impact on the working classes, here filmed in all their vitality and with an extremely benevolent gaze. .

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Especially since, without overplaying the national singularity, the series has a lot of fun with the comical situations that the fact of living in this country of Lilliputian dimensions entails. It’s a 3-digit license plate, conflicts of interest at all levels, women who share men because there are no others, the impossibility of keeping a secret , a comfortable but suffocating inner self, which is the price of insularity.

The eight episodes of this social comedy are crossed by adventures of unequal interest, and the most successful part of the series remains without doubt the sharp portrait it paints of Harpa and his emancipation through entrepreneurship. Nicknamed “the witch of the West” by her adversaries, Harpa is, in private, a deceived woman, who raises the little girl that her husband had with a young drug addict in the course of detoxification. Determined and on occasion devious, she will not tremble when it comes to defending the future of her business, including by means that are not very respectable.

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