The Brits love to laugh at their fellow Europeans, don’t they?
From popular TV programs like ‘Eurotrash’ (see below) to stories about straight bananas, there always tends to be a subtext of superiority that dates back to their Empire.
Laughing at the Danes
And now a new film – provisionally entitled ‘Denmark’, but that could change – will laugh at the old joke that this country’s prisons are more comfortable than eastern European hotels.
The film stars Rafe Spall, the son of actor Timothy Spall who is quickly establishing himself thanks to parts in ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘The Big Short’, as an unemployed Welshman who sees a brighter future of hot meals and showers living in a prison in Denmark.
Described as “a bittersweet comedy about one man’s pursuit of a dream no more ridiculous than the times we live in”, Adrian Shergold is on board to direct Jeff Murphy’s screenplay.
Not the best of records
Of course, British films about prisons tend to be pretty good – “Where’s your tool?” – although they’re rarely comedies, even though the country’s recidivism rate is pretty laughable.
According to the Danish Prison and Probation Service in 2015, only Norway has a lower rate of recidivism – 20 percent compared to Denmark’s 28 and a global average of 50.
Britain’s rate for prisoners serving a sentence of fewer than 12 months is a whopping 59 percent, according to UK government figures.
And Denmark’s overall spending is not significantly more than other western countries. For example, while Denmark spent 497,495 kroner in 2014 on each inmate, the UK still managed to spend 405,000 kroner per prisoner.
Hot meals at hotels
Still, Lis Vinther, a retired prison guard, did tell CPH POST in 2015 that some inmates – homeless and addicts mostly – tend to regard the prison as a hotel at which they can “scrub up and get a hot meal”.
“They’re in for a couple of months – you often see the same faces,” she said.
“Eventually they end up on the street again, and then you see them in for petty crime again.”