The Millenium Trilogy

I recently saw all three of the films in the Millenium trilogy, which were released in 2009 in Sweden. These films are based on the bestselling novels by Stieg Larsson, who was a Trotskyist journalist in Sweden. These movies deal with issues of violence against women and of right-wing extremism.

The first film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by Niels Oplev, is the most satisfying of the three, because it has the most tightly constructed story. A rich industrialist hires an investigative reporter named Michael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) to solve the 40-year-old disappearance of his teenage niece. Michael ends up being assisted by a computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who has a complicated back story that serves as a springboard for the next two films. The movie gradually builds suspense through the gradual accumulation of detail. It has some genuinely unnerving moments.

The next two films were directed by Daniel Alfredson. In The Girl Who Played with Fire, Michael has become the editor of a magazine called Millenium. He uncovers a human trafficking ring that involves members of the Swedish government. Meanwhile, Lisbeth is implicated in three murders. Michael is convinced that Lisbeth is innocent and that the murders are related to the human trafficking ring.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is the least satisfying of the films, even though it ties up loose ends from the first two. Lisbeth stands trial for murder, and Michael is racing against time to prove her innocence. in the middle of the film, a special government police forces suddenly appears like a deus ex machina to save them. Part of the fun of the first two films was watching Michael and Lisbeth battling their way through difficulties by themselves. There is also a subplot about Lisbeth’s deranged half-brother roaming the Swedish countryside killing people, which mostly jsut serves as a distraction from the main story.

I didn’t like some of the graphic violence in the first film, but after seeing the whole series, I have to admit it makes sense in terms of the over-arching themes and plot. I could nitpick about implausible details and lapses of logic, but I enjoyed the movies overall, especially because of their political overtones. Larsson implies that men with right-wing political views are inclined towards misogyny (this has something in common with Corey Robin’s “reactionary mind” thesis.). Think of Nietzsche and Newt Gingrich. The films also examine the corrupting influence of secrecy in government, a topic that has a good deal of relevance to the US.

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