Deliver Us: Is the Danish Show Based on a True Story?

‘Deliver Us’ or ‘Fred til lands,’ is a Danish crime drama series that witnesses a group of residents from a quiet town band together to plot the death of their vicious tormentor. A young boy cycling home is deliberately hit by a truck, and the unapologetic driver, Mike, is not convicted due to lack of evidence. Mike is the town bully and goes around threatening and arm-twisting a number of individuals. Peter, a doctor, and the boy’s father, raves at the town festival about how injustice prevails in their community, and if the same things had happened a hundred years ago, everyone would have gotten together to deliver their own brand of justice and lynched Mike.

This leads to Peter having an epiphany, and he begins to gather individuals who have been gravely affected by Mike and loath him beyond measure. These ordinary people, then begin to plot the murder of an unsuspecting Mike. The series, by creators Christian Torpe and Marie Østerbye, explores what it takes for honest, law-abiding citizens to resort to extreme measures and the emotional rollercoaster they must endure because of it. Given the show’s grim atmosphere and intriguing premise, inquisitive minds may ask themselves if the show derives any inspiration from the real world for its grounded and thrilling plot.

Deliver Us Explores People’s Relationship with Murder

‘Deliver Us’ is driven by a fictional narrative originating from its writers, Torpe and Østerbye. The two were musing about the ease with which some murderers in TV and film are shown to get away with their crimes, leading them to imagine – how a group of regular people would plan and execute the perfect murder. This thought process took place nearly a decade before the show’s release and involved the creators building a scenario in which such simple individuals would be forced to take extreme measures, inspired by Stephen King’s work when it came to building the atmosphere for their story.

To realistically depict their story on TV, the writers needed to come up with a believable reason for ordinary people to carry through with murder, as there is a strong natural resistance they would feel to killing another person. Hence the idea of a terrifying antagonist like Mike was born. Mike plays the part of their tormentor, who makes them feel helpless and miserable. And with the law unable to help them, the only way the common folk have of restoring power and control over their own lives, is to kill Mike.

Another contributing factor to the plausibility of the story is its setting. In a large city, people are less likely to run into one another repeatedly, lowering the chances of both hostilities and covenants forming between them. Thus ‘Deliver Us’ takes place in the quaint Norwegian countryside, which would see the residents of its small town unavoidably come into contact with one another, galvanizing hatreds and connections.

Initially meant for American audiences, the show ultimately ended up with Danmarks Radio, changing its North American setting to a Danish one. “When you place it in a Danish community instead of a small US town, that does something to the show. It’s a different culture,” said Torpe in an interview. “People have a different relationship with violence and guns and everything. So we redeveloped it for Danish purposes.”

When deciding upon the mood for their show, the creators drew inspiration from one of their favorite writers, Stephen King, and sought to elevate their narrative from typical Danish social realism to a kind of exalted realism. Having a history as comedy writers with shows like ‘Rita,’ the co-showrunners naturally added moments of dark comedy to ‘Deliver Us.’ “The whole idea of ordinary people finding out they want to kill someone has a sort of absurdity to it,” Østerbye noted in the aforementioned interview. “This doesn’t happen [in real life]. I don’t think Christian and I can work without any type of comedy in our scripts, but we both also wanted to do something that was more dramatic.”

‘Deliver Us’ explores the dark depths of human nature when driven to the brink. Christian Torpe and Marie Østerbye, devised a fictional narrative that delves into the unsettling question of what could push ordinary people to contemplate and execute a murder. Drawing inspiration from Stephen King’s atmospheric storytelling, the show transforms the somber Norwegian countryside into a hotbed of tension, hatred, and schemes. Despite initially being planned for an American audience, the setting transitioned to a Danish community, infusing the narrative with a unique cultural perspective. ‘Deliver Us’ skillfully balances real emotional psychology with moments of dark comedy, creating a heightened yet compelling exploration of the thin line between justice and vigilantism.

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