Stieg Larsson, Bitch

It’s annoying when everyone starts raving about something you already discovered and have been raving about for ages. This happened to me. I was a huge Dave Chapelle fan before he got his show, I loved his stand-up but after he got famous I wanted to sack anyone who said ‘Rick James, bitch.’ So allow me to apologize profusely to anyone who might have already discovered the adaptations of the Millenium Trilogy, and who has since been trying to get other people to notice them as well. To be honest I have seen advertisement for the books here in Germany and when I went to read what all the fuss was about I noticed the films were very successful. I usually prefer to read before I watch but the films came so highly recommended I couldn’t resist. Needless to say they are also worthy of the praise. I also figured I’d write about it because I find there is a lack of well done psycholigcal thrillers; Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon are some of my favourite movies of all time, and very few films have been able to reach the same niveau and mold a sophisticated and creative plot with bone-chilling suspense. For that reason I’ll highlight a few hidden gems for fans of murder mysteries and psychological thrillers.

Girl with the Dragon TattooI’m not sure how well known the Millenium films are in the English-speaking world, from what I understand an English version is actually planned or in production. The third film is already finished though not yet released for anglophone audiences, so for the most part you have to make due with user-added subtitles or dubbings in another language, but it’s worth it. The first film is effing fantastic, for lack of better words. After losing a defamation suit, investigative journalist Michael Blomkwist (Michael Nyqvist) will have to go to jail, the rival industrialist and wealthy patriarch of the Vanger clan, Henrik Vanger, hires him before his prison sentence to investigate a decades-old murder. In Agathe Christie-esque style, the majority of the film takes place on a remote island, the home of the dysfunctional dynastic family, and everyone is a suspect. The classic locked-room mystery is given a modern face with the detective methods of the young goth, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who was initally hired to investigate Blomkwist on behalf of Vanger. She keeps an eye on Blomkwist and due to her own her own experiences decides to help him with the investigation, the two become an unlikely detective couple. The film is a feast for the eyes, the seaside town of Hedestad and the Hedeby island look attractive, even in the dead of winter. Indeed the interiors are slick and cool and the exteriors show beautiful landscapes and the remoteness of the northern coast. It’s the beginning of a three part series which takes some unexpected turns and delves deeper into Salander’s past, the following two films with more murder mystery, conspiracy and courtroom drama. The third film is entertaining but does not go out with the bang you’d expect from such a spectacular series, which is due to the fact that it was planned to be a ten part series. The author of the books, Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack while writing the fourth installment. The greatest tragedy in all of this is that Larsson died before his books were published and he did not get to enjoy the massive success of his novels.

If you’re looking for something more closely resembling the Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter dynamic in a thriller then you’ll probably like Antibodies (Antikörper), a German film from 2005. After the capture of a brutal serial killer a small town cop tries to speak to him to clear up a long unsolved case. The captive murderer breaks his silence to speak with the detective, the deadly mastermind behind bars scene is reminiscent of the Silence of the Lambs, the cliché is acknowledged when the killer opens up by saying “Who did you expect, Hannibal Lecter?” Don’t roll your eyes though this films has a few parallels but is definitely original and entertaining, and any fan of Lecter will enjoy watching the manipulative killer work his machinations from the confines of his cell.

So there are a few titles for anyone who has exhausted the genre and already seen Seven, Zodiac and the like. I know foreign films can sometimes be tedious (I think of “Kosovo Autumn” in The Simpsons) compared to the usual Hollywood production but the films mentioned here are all top-notch, so don’t complain about subtitles, you forget you’re reading them eventually anyways. If I discover anymore hidden gems I’ll add them here, feel free to contirbute any you may know as well.

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  1. They Don’t Have to Remake Millenium |
  2. Fourth Stieg Larsson Book is Actually Fifth |

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