Sløborn – When You Are Just 15 Years Old, but the End of the World Has Already Begun

REVIEW
by Albina Akhatova
20.12.2020
The author of Netflix's Dogs of Berlin (2018) criminal drama Christian Alvart has returned to television with a new Sløborn (2020) series. The project was not implemented for the famous streaming, but it would have taken a much more worthy and noticeable place in the line of its hits than the senseless Dogs of Berlin. It's even more pleasant to watch Alvert's comeback with a powerful dramatic multi-part thriller about the pigeon flu pandemic on the Sløborn island in Germany, where a powerful outbreak of the disease occurs in a town of four thousand people.
The action series, where very familiar attributes of the current reality inevitably rhyme with the coronavirus pandemic, looks much more concerned for the characters: after all, we ourselves are already used to masks, people in protective suits, social distance and the virus. Unless the symptoms of pigeon flu look more colorful and spectacular than the ones of COVID patients – sneezing, coughing and pain in the lungs on the TV picture seems unconvincing and not frightening enough. That's why infected people in Sløborn cry with bloody tears, cough with blood and suffer from nosebleeds. However, both these and other pathogens of the virus are edible and flying.
The first shots place the viewer in a disorienting space, in which a girl with three children runs out along a shrill a cappella accompaniment and rushes around surrounded by military equipment. From the annotation, we already know that an epidemic will occur in this town – but we still feel dissonance from what we saw, because we can hardly imagine what could lead events to such a finale. And then, over the course of eight episodes, the series answers this question raising various topics that suddenly develop in the context of the pandemic. These are security measures, conspiracy theories, religious beliefs, staying calm in an extreme situation, experiments on people, actions of the state and the media. But a good product will not show them without a link to previous domestic problems, so the series reminds us that the worst deadly virus can be: a girl in puberty whose parents are getting divorced; an abusive father and school bullying; revenge erasing ethical dilemmas; hazing; creative crisis and deadline.

Initially, the showrunners wanted to call the project Slowburn, referring to the «slowburn» drama which is the actual genre of the series. But they decided that it would be too obvious, played with Danish phonetics and got Sløborn. The plot, in comparison with such Russian TV-series as Epidemic (2018) or To Survive After (2013-2016), is not so rapid and dynamic, but the pressure is rising steadily: yacht from Indian Ocean, that has been racing several days without any control, is washed up to Sløborn, on TV there are reports of a new rapidly spreading virus from India, and a 15-year-old girl thinks how unstable the world is in crises and wars and asks to postpone the end of the world while she is young.
The main characters are representatives of different generations and activities: teenagers Evelin, Yvonne, Hermann, Fiete, Luis and Ole and their parents, drug-addicted writer Nikolai Wagner, who came to the provincia looking for inspiration for an unwritten novel that needs to be handed over in six weeks, and a native of the island Magnus Fisker, who returned from prison in Denmark with a group of young criminals to implement a project for their social rehabilitation. Storylines that ran parallel for a long time and intersected several times to hang their guns on the wall, converge to a single point of explosion by the end, providing an inevitable fire. Despite the fact that the action never lets you exhale, the script still has a few patches in the form of piano bushes that are visible to the inattentive eye, however, they're perfectly covered by the shadow of numerous advantages of the series.
The story arc of the irresponsible and, as it may seem at first glance, untalented writer Nikolai Wagner is definitely the best screenwriting and acting work of the entire series. He goes on a true hero's journey that is worth a spin-off. It is Wagner to whom the director instructs to type ENDE on the keyboard in the series finale – and in the final of the novel the inspiration for which covers Nikolai in an epidemic-ridden island. The manuscript of the masterpiece – how else when the end of the world is unfolding before your eyes? – Nikolai brings to the grave of a woman thanks to whom he, through the drug withdrawal, revised the values of life, attitude to people and to creativity. This beautiful and noble gesture triumphantly completes the lyrical image of the genius who looks at the deserted dead city sipping morning coffee on the balcony.

The visual component consists of a palette of gray, green, and blue hues. It includes serene views of the multi-colored low-rise houses of Sløborn coupled with sweeping shots of the coastline, combining panoramic and top-down photography. As the pandemic ramps up, production designers, makeup artists and prop designers introduce red colors to the palette, but, unlike HBO's Chernobyl (2019), they show moderately the horrors that the virus makes people experience. The musical carpet of Sløborn is woven with original instrumental music, original compositions in German and English and the technique to hum everyday sounds that inherits Dark (2017-2020). Powerful intra-frame musical accompaniment smoothly and imperceptibly flows out of frame, plunging the viewer into a fatal situation. This is especially powerful in the finale of the second series, the soundtrack of which is an organ accompaniment. According to medieval church ideas, this tool makes us experience fatalism and the inevitability of the terrible and the worst. A religious theme, even a little, but present in Sløborn.
Sløborn stands out from a range of similar series of high level of performance in all aspects: from the convincing and strong performance of the cast to the depiction of the pandemic in everyday life. Sometimes the impression can be spoiled by predictability or scenario patches, but the twisting plot that does not give a break until the very end, textured and imperfect characters as well as unexpected points of view on familiar things keep the viewer alert until the very end.
 
Sløborn – When You Are Just 15 Years Old, but the End of the World Has Already Begun

REVIEW
by Albina Akhatova
20.12.2020
The author of Netflix's Dogs of Berlin (2018) criminal drama Christian Alvart has returned to television with a new Sløborn (2020) series. The project was not implemented for the famous streaming, but it would have taken a much more worthy and noticeable place in the line of its hits than the senseless Dogs of Berlin. It's even more pleasant to watch Alvert's comeback with a powerful dramatic multi-part thriller about the pigeon flu pandemic on the Sløborn island in Germany, where a powerful outbreak of the disease occurs in a town of four thousand people.
The action series, where very familiar attributes of the current reality inevitably rhyme with the coronavirus pandemic, looks much more concerned for the characters: after all, we ourselves are already used to masks, people in protective suits, social distance and the virus. Unless the symptoms of pigeon flu look more colorful and spectacular than the ones of COVID patients – sneezing, coughing and pain in the lungs on the TV picture seems unconvincing and not frightening enough. That's why infected people in Sløborncry with bloody tears, cough with blood and suffer from nosebleeds. However, both these and other pathogens of the virus are edible and flying.
The first shots place the viewer in a disorienting space, in which a girl with three children runs out along a shrill a cappella accompaniment and rushes around surrounded by military equipment. From the annotation, we already know that an epidemic will occur in this town – but we still feel dissonance from what we saw, because we can hardly imagine what could lead events to such a finale. And then, over the course of eight episodes, the series answers this question raising various topics that suddenly develop in the context of the pandemic. These are security measures, conspiracy theories, religious beliefs, staying calm in an extreme situation, experiments on people, actions of the state and the media. But a good product will not show them without a link to previous domestic problems, so the series reminds us that the worst deadly virus can be: a girl in puberty whose parents are getting divorced; an abusive father and school bullying; revenge erasing ethical dilemmas; hazing; creative crisis and deadline.

Initially, the showrunners wanted to call the project Slowburn, referring to the «slowburn» drama which is the actual genre of the series. But they decided that it would be too obvious, played with Danish phonetics and got Sløborn. The plot, in comparison with such Russian TV-series as Epidemic (2018) or To Survive After (2013-2016), is not so rapid and dynamic, but the pressure is rising steadily: yacht from Indian Ocean, that has been racing several days without any control, is washed up to Sløborn, on TV there are reports of a new rapidly spreading virus from India, and a 15-year-old girl thinks how unstable the world is in crises and wars and asks to postpone the end of the world while she is young.

The main characters are representatives of different generations and activities: teenagers Evelin, Yvonne, Hermann, Fiete, Luis and Ole and their parents, drug-addicted writer Nikolai Wagner, who came to the provincia looking for inspiration for an unwritten novel that needs to be handed over in six weeks, and a native of the island Magnus Fisker, who returned from prison in Denmark with a group of young criminals to implement a project for their social rehabilitation. Storylines that ran parallel for a long time and intersected several times to hang their guns on the wall, converge to a single point of explosion by the end, providing an inevitable fire. Despite the fact that the action never lets you exhale, the script still has a few patches in the form of piano bushes that are visible to the inattentive eye, however, they're perfectly covered by the shadow of numerous advantages of the series.
The story arc of the irresponsible and, as it may seem at first glance, untalented writer Nikolai Wagner is definitely the best screenwriting and acting work of the entire series. He goes on a true hero's journey that is worth a spin-off. It is Wagner to whom the director instructs to type ENDE on the keyboard in the series finale – and in the final of the novel the inspiration for which covers Nikolai in an epidemic-ridden island. The manuscript of the masterpiece – how else when the end of the world is unfolding before your eyes? – Nikolai brings to the grave of a woman thanks to whom he, through the drug withdrawal, revised the values of life, attitude to people and to creativity. This beautiful and noble gesture triumphantly completes the lyrical image of the genius who looks at the deserted dead city sipping morning coffee on the balcony.

The visual component consists of a palette of gray, green, and blue hues. It includes serene views of the multi-colored low-rise houses of Sløborn coupled with sweeping shots of the coastline, combining panoramic and top-down photography. As the pandemic ramps up, production designers, makeup artists and prop designers introduce red colors to the palette, but, unlike HBO's Chernobyl (2019), they show moderately the horrors that the virus makes people experience. The musical carpet of Sløbornis woven with original instrumental music, original compositions in German and English and the technique to hum everyday sounds that inherits Dark (2017-2020). Powerful intra-frame musical accompaniment smoothly and imperceptibly flows out of frame, plunging the viewer into a fatal situation. This is especially powerful in the finale of the second series, the soundtrack of which is an organ accompaniment. According to medieval church ideas, this tool makes us experience fatalism and the inevitability of the terrible and the worst. A religious theme, even a little, but present in Sløborn.
Sløborn stands out from a range of similar series of high level of performance in all aspects: from the convincing and strong performance of the cast to the depiction of the pandemic in everyday life. Sometimes the impression can be spoiled by predictability or scenario patches, but the twisting plot that does not give a break until the very end, textured and imperfect characters as well as unexpected points of view on familiar things keep the viewer alert until the very end.
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