Stieg Larsson was an interesting character, worth a novel or a movie by himself. A journalist and a writer of science-fiction, a left-winger who spent part of his youth training guerrillas in Eritrea, he wrote three crime novels as a hobby and did not plan to publish them until shortly before his death. When they went out posthumously they created a sensation and in a few years the Millennium trilogy  (the name comes from the newspaper that employs the main hero, who happens to be an investigative journalist as Larsson was) became a world-wide sensation, and Larsson one of the best selling authors of the second half of the dist decade of the third millenium.

 

Stieg Larsson - source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stieg_Larsson.jpg

 

The films inspired by the books were not late to come, and luckily the Swedes were fast enough to make the first series of films. This may be my first encounter with the Scandinavian crime novels (very successful actually, many other authors from the Northern countries of Europe enjoy world-wide celebrity lately), but certainly not with the Scandinavian cinema. Director Niels Arden Oplev may have in his biography prior to this film only TV series, but he masters the atmosphere, the work with the actors, the cinematographic rendition of the landscapes of the North. Much of the action happens in winter on a frozen island, and we FEEL the cold radiating from the blueish landscape with the light always falling on a sharp angle. I doubt that anybody but a Scandinavian can ever render the feeling of men’s loneliness in a frozen landscape.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1132620/

 

The structure of the story is actually quite standard. Investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyquist) loses a libel trial to a corporate giant to be hired by another corporate tycoon (the facts are not really unrelated as you may guess) to find the truth behind the disappearance of a young girl many decades earlier. He travels to a remote island (a frozen version of Polanski’s ‘Ghost Writer’ island) and meets the first and second generation of a family that has a lot to hide and from which a criminal (or maybe more than one) is yet to be found. Remote place, a set of characters related by visible and invisible links, here we have a setting that would have made Agatha Christie happy. We are however at the dawn of the third millennium, computer and Internet age, and the character of the technologist and hacker replaced the mustached Poirot, and what a character. Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth is by herself a dark, thin, tattooed, face pierced and sexy appearance, with many hidden secrets of herself. The two fascinating characters will engage in a game that brings them close to violence, hidden secrets from the past, real dangers in the present, sex and cold, attraction and fear.

 

(video source trailers)

 

Agatha Christie meets Hitchcock meets the Scandinavian darkness of the first films by van Trier. This film has a quality that is hard to equal in its cinematography, in its pace and building of thrill, in its chose of cast and superb acting. As much as I admire Daniel Craig as an actor and David Fincher as a director I fear that the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes too early and has too little chance to wipe form the memory this strange, dark and vibrant Scandinavian thriller, one of the best I have seen lately.