Traffik [Miniseries] (UK, 1989)

9789051591552Directed by: Alastair Reid. Most North Americans are at least familiar with the Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed and very popular American film Traffic from a few years back, directed by Steven Soderbergh. It came around before The Wire and it was one of the first things in American culture, to my awareness, that looked critically at the drug war as a complex, interconnected social phenomenon, beyond the pale of black and white cowboy hats. What a lot of people didn’t know, including myself, is that the precedent had been directly set with this great piece of moody, gritty, British TV drama. Traffik (the German spelling?) connects the British Drug Minister with the opium farms in Pakistan, its dirt-poor farmers, the drug lords, a German police sting, a German/British couple, the British woman going to fascinating extremes to keep her husband out of jail, the Minister’s heroine addict daughter, all of it with an ensemble cast and a sad, unresolved ending. In 1989, nothing like this could have ever been done in the States. I’ve heard and spoken numerous diatribes about how much The Wire reinvented television, bringing a mature, wholly original view to the topic of drug enforcement, but I have to reevaluate all of that now. In its own right, Traffik is a genuinely intriguing story with harrowing action, heart wrenching character drama, and thoughtful, intelligent social commentary. I highly recommend this.

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One response to “Traffik [Miniseries] (UK, 1989)

  1. Pingback: Narcos, Season One (USA, 2015) | Offhand Reviews·

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