Politically incorrect film reviews – The Millennium Trilogy

Robert Henderson

The girl with the dragon tattoo – the original and the US-remake

The girl who played with fire

The girl who stirred the hornets’ nest

These are the films made to date from  Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.   I review them  in one fell swoop because there is only one reason to see them if you wish to be diverted  – and it is a very compelling one – the charismatic performance of  Noomi  Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in the three Swedish originals.  More of that later.

There is another less palatable reason to watch the films. They  are monuments to the grip that political correctness generally has on Sweden  and the peculiar place that feminism occupies in Sweden and Scandinavia generally.

The plots, such as they are, revolve around the type of fantasies the politically correct relish: we have the  remnants and descendants of a  Swedish Nazi group, one of whom, Martin Vanger,   engages in the rape and occult murder of women  as his father did before him;  the abusive and dishonest  machinations of  big business  as represented by billionaire financier Hans-Erik Wennerström; paedophilia amongst the rich and powerful  and  a dash of  security services mischief involving one-time Soviets agents, one of whom is Lisbeth’s father, Alexander Zalachenko.  There is even a Frankenstein monster of sorts, a man who cannot feel pain (Ronald Niedermann Lisbeth’s half-brother) .  In short, the storylines  are verging on the absurd.

Amongst these fantastic scenarios  Mikael Blomkvist, journalist and publisher at Millennium magazine,  weaves his investigative way as he seeks to  ruin Wennerstrom,  solve the mystery of a missing woman belonging to the Nazi-tainted Vanger family and expose sex-trafficking of minors, much of this being done through conversations of excruciating exercises in  political correctness with his fellow Millennium journos .

During the course of the three films Lisbeth   is variously forced to provide fellatio, anally raped,  shot and savagely beaten,  with  much of the mayhem being engineered by her father,  half-brother and her state provided  guardian – she is encumbered by the last because of her violent and disturbed past which has seen her spend much time in what in less politically correct times would be called lunatic asylums. Lisbeth  in return engages in much violence and other criminality, almost all of it directed at men.   This aspect of the films satisfies the feminist ideals of all men being potentially violent abusers of women and the ability of women  to strike back against their abusers.

The male characters who are not wearing the feminist version of black hats are required to behave towards  female characters with an insipid subordination.   Mikael Blomkvist must be the most uninspiring male lead in films,  an almost entirely  non-action man.  Even when he  does eventually become involved in action he is the victim.   Not so much an anti-hero but an anti-heroic.

There is also political correctness of an insidious nature.   About halfway through The Girl with the Dragon tattoo a suspicion began to form,  with The girl who played with fire the suspicion became a certainly and The  Girl who stirred the hornet’s nest merely provided confirmation of the certainty: women perform the same role in Swedish films that blacks  routinely perform in Hollywood productions. They are the formal authority figures, the lawyers,    the judges, and , God help us, the  leader of a police Swat team, are women.

In short, this is the hardcore feminist fantasy made flesh with men portrayed either as potential rapists and abusers of women generally (the title of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Swedish is Män som hatar kvinnor–literally–men who hate women) or timid, one dimensional wimps who not only   bow down before the dictates of political correctness,  but who have become feminised by decades of feminist propaganda and political intervention to enforce the mentality.  All very interesting when one reflects on the author of the 2011 Norwegian killing spree Anders Breivik’s complaint about the feminised nature of Norwegian society. On the evidence of  these films the same could be said of Sweden.

The films are saved by a single great performance. Orson Welles does this in Citizen Kane when even that fine actor Joseph Cotton is reduced to a cypher;   Gangs of New York are saved by Daniel Day-Lewis’s Bill the Butcher;  Drive is held together solely by Ryan Gosling’s startling  talent for violence.   Noomi  Rapace  does it with the character of Lisbeth Salmander , a young woman  who is set apart, whether by a disturbed  past or innate qualities, from other people. Her behaviour is autistic. She cannot readily connect with people or understand  the normal rules of  social engagement.  At the same time she is highly intelligent and immensely resourceful.  The consequence is that  she combines heroic self-sufficiency with  a terrible vulnerability . A man playing such a role probably would not be sympathetic but an attractive young woman is.

There is another quality Lisbeth has which is immensely  magnetic.   It is her will to action. There is something  heroic about a character who  meets circumstances head on and instead of dithering or running away from trouble simply responds with action.  Lee Marvin as Walker in Point Blank and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill part I are other prime examples of such characters.    Her determination and courage is in stark contrast to the vanilla quality of  Blomkvist and his ilk.  When she is removed from the action sequences  (after being  shot  at the end of the second film), the consequence is that the final part of the trilogy is by far the weakest of the three. Lisbeth needs freedom to express herself.

The American remake of The girl with the dragon tattoo is in some ways better than the original, most notably the acting overall  is much stronger – Stellen Skaarsgard is especially good as the serial killer Martin Vanger, mixing an overt affability with an underlying menace.  Rooney Mara captures the self-contained distance and the will to action of the character well,  but  lacks Rapace’s vulnerability. That changes the mood of the film.

Recommended  recent Films

Shame – something of Sidney Carton in the Michael Fassbinder  role, a man of parts who is simply squandering his talent on an empty life.

Rampart – Woody Harrelson plays Dave Brown, a wondrously politically  incorrect cop. Dirty Harry without the ideals.

A Dangerous Method – Worth seeing for Viggo Mortensen’s Freud and Keira Knightley’s sporting of one of the oddest accents ever to hit the screen – she is meant to be Russian, but could come from anywhere in the solar system  for all the accent tells one of her origins.

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