I used to love television, I used to scour the TV guides and pick out my entire week of programmes each Sunday. Then I became a teenager and ended up being too busy to dedicate my time. As a university student, I discovered the power of BBC iPlayer and 4OD, but that soon fell down the wayside when I started working full time and having so much else on my plate. These days, it takes a lot to get me to commit to a series – I often prefer to wait until it is finished on TV and is released on DVD so I can peruse at my leisure and dip in and out of the series.
This is the first series I have committed to in such a way for the best part of a year and I thought it deserved a blog post all of its own for that reason.
Top of the Lake, is an acclaimed 2013 television mini-series written by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, and directed by Campion and Australian, Garth Davis. Filmed and set in New Zealand, the drama series follows a detective (Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss) investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl.
The DVD cover, featuring this image, was very striking and really caught my eye while browsing in HMV and when I saw it was a recent BBC production I decided I was going to have to purchase it and have a watch. Particularly with such a dark storyline, I was hooked.
I have yet to finish the series, but I have to say now that it is pretty damn good. Utterly gripping as it is explores the relationships between characters, the detective’s own personal problems – both emotional and within her family – all alongside the investigation of the disappearance of the young girl.
There are several scenes that become highly controversial and disturbing including one when a male character strips naked and begins to whip himself with a belt over his mother’s grave. If you prefer the softer, more comedic television series – I would avoid this. It is thought-provoking, powerful filming against a stunning background of New Zealand scenery.
The actors tackle the material unafraid of backlash for these sensitive topics and challenge the audience as they rail against the norm and introduce a range of characters – many mentally disturbed or emotionally distraught and clearly struggling to cope with day-to-day life.
The series exposes a culture within the country of exploitation of women, and of men, of emotionally stunted people who are trapped in a remote area but are still trying to run away from their problems.
The whole programme hooks on the idea of a delicate a beautiful new life coming out of such evil and the scene where the young girl gives birth is particularly horrifying because the audience is aware of the danger involved and the fact that she may not survive the experience.
Later the scene where the girl shouts at the baby to shut up just highlights her youth and inexperience, her inability to cope with the horrendous brutality that has been forced upon her before she was even able to understand how she became pregnant.
A powerful series, and one I am looking forward to continuing – I am intrigued to see where else the series can take the audience.
Has anyone else watched the programme? I would recommend it for those with a taste for dark and disturbing crime thrillers.