Friday, April 12, 2013


Although "Matador" evokes something other than a wildly popular  mini-series about Denmark's history 1929-1947, the name is the equivalent of Monopoly in English. When I first arrived in Copenhagen a friend suggested I watch some episodes as a way of improving my ear for Danish. Her collection of "Matador" DVDs had options for subtitles in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish--I chose the Danish. This gave me the opportunity to both read and listen. It was far better than anything else I could have done to get better Danish pronunciation into my head.

In the end I watched all 24 episodes over a two-week period. "Matador" was originally shown on Danish TV beginning in the 1970s, but it has been shown repeatedly over the decades to huge audiences in Denmark and elsewhere in the world. It was created by Lise Nørgaard,  and included performances by many of Denmark's best known actors. The many story lines, involving several families in a small town, were expertly crafted to give the sense of changing times, for workers, women, and the bourgeois families who saw their power eroding. It was funny, heart-wrenching, and often tremendously exciting storytelling.

Not only did I get more of a feel for Danish history, but I found that everyone I knew in Denmark was very familiar with the series (and friends in Sweden too), so that made for another connection with this culture. 

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