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Sunday, May 19th, 2013 12:27 am
Okay.  This is probably going to sound strange, but hear me out here.  I don't have many heroes, and over the years their already small number has steadily diminished, but when I was thinking about this a couple of months ago it dawned on me.  To the extent that a fictional person can be your hero, Kurt Wallander is mine.

To anyone not familiar with either the Wallander books or the adaptations this probably does sound weird, and would definitely have sounded odd to me four or five years ago.  However, on reading the books and seeing Krister Henriksson's beautifully nuanced portrayal of Wallander, I've come to know and love the character, and to learn a lot from him.  There's a lot to admire about him:

  • Courage - in spite of all the dangers he chooses to face in The Dogs of Riga, he admits that he doesn't consider himself a brave man, and is frequently afraid.  Yet this is surely the definition of true courage: not a lack of fear, but the ability to act in spite of fear, and even though he doesn't seem to realise it Wallander has great reserves of courage.

  • Humanity - he makes mistakes, gets things wrong, annoys or angers people, and yet is still able to do what he does.  There are few duller and more alienating things in fiction than the boring invincible hero, but Wallander is neither boring or invincible, but a very believable human being.  One that we can relate to more, perhaps, than his more eyecatching younger colleagues, and who is able to relate to the people that he deals with in his work.

  • Empathy - The White Lioness and Sidetracked show how very deeply Wallander feels for the people he has to deal with, as do films such as The Darkness and The Cellist, where he does everything he can to help and get justice for the victims.

  • Determination to do the right thing - basically the driving force behind a lot of what he does.  Wallander hates the idea of injustice and will sometimes go to great lengths to get the right person behind bars.  Just ask Louise Selander.

Wallander is, of course, far from perfect, but his flaws and failings make him more relatable, more human.  The fact that he struggles, that he doesn't get everything right, is actually quite comforting in a way.  He may be Sweden's best crimefighting brain, but he's not perfect, and nor is he expected to be.  There's hope for us all, and I only hope that I deal with the challenges in my own life with the same sort of courage and humanity that he shows.

On top of this, though, I just like the guy.  Of all the fictional characters I've ever come across, he's probably the one I like the most, and that counts for an awful lot.  He's so well-written (and portrayed) that sometimes he almost seems real:- in fact, if you go to Ystad he does seem like a very real and important presence there.  And if Ewa-Gun Westford can claim him as her soulmate and best friend, then I can claim him as my hero.  He may be fictional, but he's added more to my life than I could probably put into words here.

Teh awesum

^And frankly, who wouldn't want this awesomeness in their life? :)

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