Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thursday Night at the Movies - The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

This is the movie version of the third book of the Millennium Trilogy, written by the late Stieg Larsson. The other two books were called The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. Although the books were published between 2005 and 2007, they were slow to arrive here. The translation of Hornet's Nest didn't appear in the US until 2009 when I read about it in the local paper book review section. The local library had the first book on CD (narrated by the great Simon Vance). It was pretty good. Set in Sweden, it tells the story of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (who writes for and partly owns Millennium magazine). He retreats to the frozen Swedish countryside to investigate a 30-year old murder. It also tells the story of Lisbeth Salander, a troubled 26-year-old who has been in and out of institutions all her life. When we first meet her she is working as a researcher for a security firm. Troubled she may be but she is a skilled researcher and a consummate computer hacker. Eventually, the stories of Blonkvist and Salander intersect, and she helps him solve the mystery and incidentally, saves his life.
A few months ago, the first movie (in Swedish with English subtitles) appeared on cable. The movie did a great job of putting on film a long and complicated story. Salander is a difficult character. Sexually abused for much of her life, she refuses to play the victim. She gets even with her tormentors in violent ways, which is one of the reasons she is now a person under guardianship, not trusted to take care of herself as an adult should.

The second book (and movie) is more exciting than the first, as Salander gets unjustly charged with the murder of three people, a journalist and his girlfriend who are working for Blomkvist on a story for Millennium and her guardian. The story also becomes more convoluted as we start to learn about the shadowy government conspiracy which is at the heart of her institutionalization.

The third book hasn't yet shown up in the library but my daughter (who also loves the series) and I decided to go see the movie anyway. We were pretty happy with it. Many questions are answered and maybe Salander gets justice in the end.

Larsson had planned more books in the series, which is apparent by the end of the third movie but he died in 2007, actually prior to the release of the third book. The fourth book is apparently written but Larsson's estate has refused to publish it. The series has been an enormous success, selling some 27 million copies.

I'd recommend seeing all three films, in order. The first of the series is more or less a complete story, but 2 and 3 are very tied together. You might have trouble finding the third movie in theaters, it was only playing in one theater in Houston.

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