By Michael Dean Benton
Stieg Larsson’s source novel for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the first part of his Millennium trilogy) and the Swedish film adaption of it (Niels Arden Opley, 2009: 152 minutes) have enjoyed similar international success. Larsson, posthumously, was the second highest selling author worldwide in 2008, and this weekend the first film adaption of his trilogy is poised to crack the $100 million level (a significant mark for a Swedish film). Hollywood has also taken notice and a remake is set for 2012 with David Fincher directing; reportedly a slew of stars are jockeying to be cast in the two lead roles.
There are two important contextual facts that can help in understanding the international popularity of the book and the film. First, like the film’s lead male character Mikael Blomkvist, Stieg Larsson was a Swedish journalist actively reporting and editing an independent publication on contemporary Swedish far-right movements. Larsson’s life was threatened by neo-fascist thugs and the Swedish police took these threats serious enough to have him put under police protection. Mysteriously, just as his Millennium trilogy was poised for great success (a series he intended to expand to 10 books), he dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 50 on November 9 of the past year. Significantly, Larsson’s sudden death occurred on the anniversary of the German night of terror known as Kristallnacht, infamous as the beginning of the Nazi “final solution” for the Jews of Europe. Understandably, this fueled rumors that Larsson was somehow eliminated by the far right movements whom he was seeking to expose. Continue reading »