Saturday, 21 May 2011


For those of you who follow my blog, I am a great Stieg Larsson fan. I soaked up his three novels, which seem now to be unofficially called the Millennium trilogy (based on the name of the magazine published by investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist in the stories), in a way I haven't done with any other novelS for a long time. And I still haven't found anything to read as yet that comes even close to capturing my total concentration as they did.

Therefore, I was very keen to see the film versions and having done so I wish to give my verdict. These were the Swedish versions and I chose to watch them in Swedish with English subtitles. Therefore, the essence of Swedishness, already very vibrant in the novels, particularly through the scenery and the different institutions exposed, was reinforced by the natural language.

And what can I say? They were all brilliant but particularly the first two.

There's always a danger when watching the film based on a novel, particularly one you have just read, because it's all too easy to look for differences between the two. And that can lead to a great disappointment. However, I can honestly say that I spotted no important differences in the first two films and although I already knew the plots, I was completely absorbed all the time.

The enigmatic and fascinating heroine/anti-heroine, Lisbeth Salander, is played beautifully by Noomi Rapace. She looks and behaves exactly as the Salander in the books. So much so that it is a surprise to see and hear the actress giving interviews. You would hardly recognise that this was the same person. And Michael Nyquist, who plays Mikael Blomkvist, really brought his character alive. Seeing him play the role, gave me a full understanding of just how attractive the character is.

And film can do what sometimes a novel can't do – that is to show visually information that can take a long time to be covered on the written page. So, in the first film we get a really clear idea of all the different members of the Wenger family, who are central to the plot, in a very easy sequence – large photographs of each of the members are used by Blomkist to show who is who. This took a very long time in the novel and I still got confused from time to time.

Now, onto the last of the films. I enjoyed this one nearly as much as the other two but some of the subplots had been altered to fit in with the main plot and I did find this a tad distracting. But I can see the logic in doing so because the film really had to be focused on what was happening with Salander and her story.

Conclusion. Excellent films, all three. Totally worth watching first in Swedish and then in English or the other way round if you so choose. It shall be interesting to see whether Hollywood can produce anything nearly as good. I doubt it but who knows. Having become a fan of European detective drama series e.g. Wallender, Spiral and The Killing (BBC 4, Saturday evenings), I am really enjoying listening to other languages in the context of the countries in which the dramas are set. Makes for far more gripping television.

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