Friday, May 27, 2011

Donna Leon and the Commissario Brunetti Series

Imagine a TV detective series set and filmed in Venice, Italy and imagine that all the Italian characters in the series are speaking in German and you have the Commissario Brunetti series based on the mystery novels by Donna Leon.

The creator of Commissario Brunetti is American author Donna Leon. She's lived in Venice for over twenty years and was an English Literature professor until dedicating herself to writing a few years ago.  

I recently saw a short interview with Leon and it brought back memories of the few episodes of the series that I've seen.  Even if it's been a few years, and I've only read a couple of the twenty Brunetti novels, and probably seen only a few of the 16 Commissarrio Brunetti programs made for German television, I remember them well. 

The books have been translated in  many languages and are very popular in Europe, especially Germany. Oddly enough Donna Leon refuses to have her novels translated into Italian because she has stated in several interviews that she doesn't want to be famous in Italy, the place she calls home. 

Below is an excerpt from one of Donna Leon's Brunnetti novels from BBCAudiobooksAmerica:

Commissario Brunetti is a brilliant detective who has to battle an incompetent boss and rampant corruption to solve the crime. We also see his life at home, his wife is part of the aristocracy who married down with a police detective, and they have two teenage kids, a son and a daughter. Of course there's always a crime to solve and through that we see the sinister side of La Serenissima. But the star of the show is the beautiful and otherworldly city of Venice. We see the parts of Venice that tourist see, Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal. But one of the joys of the series is seeing the daily life of the city for those who call it home.  

The series is very well acted and directed, and after the first few minutes of wondering why everyone in Venice speaks German, you get swept into the plot and the intrigues and the life of Brunetti. In the episodes I've seen Joachim Krol plays the Commmissario, but when looking for video clips to use I see there's an entirely new cast now, and Brunetti is played by Uwe Kockisch. 

Joachim Krol as Brunetti 

Below is a clip from the series, to give you an idea of what the series looks like (in German with no subtitles):

Uwe Kockisch as Brunnetti 

Below is a video of Donna Leon  talking about the writer's relationship with the reader and other things as part of a lecture series on writing a police or mystery novel.

Sunday, July 3, MHZ Networks will air an episode of the Commisario Brunetti series, Vendetta, at 9:00pm. The episode repeats on Tuesday 

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