by Anna-Cara Keim
The Bridge, “Broen” in Danish and “Bron” in Swedish, is a ten part crime series about a Swedish-Danish police investigation of a murder that has just recently been broadcasted by the BBC. The Bridge follows in the footsteps of internationally successful Scandinavian television dramas such as the Danish crime series The Killing, the political drama Borgen, or the long-running and popular Wallander series from Sweden. Once again the British television audiences were thrilled.
The Bridge features the investigation of a dead body that is found on the Øresund Bridge that connects Copenhagen and Malmö, exactly at the border of Denmark and Sweden. The dead body is in fact composed out of two halves: the bottom half belongs to a Danish drug addict whereas the top half belongs to a Swedish politician. Due to the transnational nature of the crime, it is investigated by a bilingual team and in this case the team is led by two rather eclectic characters: Saga, a young eccentric policewoman from Malmö, and Martin, a middle-aged and overweight police detective from Copenhagen. As the story unfolds the unknown killer, also known as the truth terrorists, hands out poisoned wine in both cities, kills a homeless person, blackmails rich industrialists and feeds information to an overly self-conscious tabloid journalist. Moreover, the storyline is enriched by a number of sub-plots revolving around Martin’s marriage that is built on dwindling grounds, and Saga’s difficulties building social relationships. But perhaps you would like to watch it and in which case I should try not to give away too much…
However, the real protagonist of the television series is the Øresund Bridge, a gigantic steel monstrosity and an outstanding achievement of human engineering that connects Copenhagen to Malmö. Officially opened in 2000, the construction of the bridge begun in 1995 and its total lengths is about 16 km (although technically the bridge itself is just 7.8 km long if you exclude the 4 km tunnel on the Danish side and the artificial island on the Swedish side). Nowadays about 17 000 road vehicles cross the Bridge every day, not to speak of all the passengers that commute between Denmark and Sweden by rail.
The Bridge has significantly improved the life of the people living in the region and it has facilitated a level of cross-national, and cross-Baltic co-operation that we have not seen before. It is no longer unusual to live in Malmö but to work in Copenhagen. House prices in Malmö are significantly lower than in Copenhagen, but Copenhagen, being a European metropolis, offers many jobs that would be rather difficult to find in Malmö.
Many students also regularly cross the Øresund Bridge. Indeed, a number of university programmes are now offered jointly by universities in Copenhagen and Malmö, thus the universities are able to offer a wider range of course choices, and the process facilitates diversity and students benefit from the best of both (worlds).
The Øresund Bridge also helped bring about political efforts towards a greater integration in the Øresund region, ranging from a synchronised transport network, through shared provision of tourist services, and even healthcare.
Could this bilateral co-operation become a model for the entire Baltic Sea Region?
Crossing the Baltic would certainly like to see more of this but we realise that this twin town model is still fairly unusual. Similar efforts are yet to be met elsewhere in the Baltic Sea Region but co-operation between the city of Tornio in Northern Finland and the neighbouring town Haparanda in Sweden provides evidence for another interesting study.