Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Girl Who Played with Fire--Swedish Movie

photo: Noomi Rapace, about to terrify.  From

Overall this second film of the series was better than the very good first film, which makes sense, as the second novel in the series was superior to the first.  I suspect that the American version of the second book will stay as true to its original as the first did; this Swedish version kept more closely aligned to the source than did the first one, but still not too much.  And so there's little to say here that I didn't already say for the first movie, when I compared that to what I felt was a superior American version.  (You can read that here.  And you can read more of my blog entries about the movies and books here, here, and here.)  So I just have a few tidbits, some more relevant, I suppose, than others.

--The closing credits to this Swedish-language film play to an English-language song, Misen Groth's "Would Anybody Die."  The credits themselves, of course, were predominantly in Swedish, but every now and then you'll see "Worldwide Distribution," or "Collection Agent," or "Completion Bond."  There isn't a way to translate these last three into their Swedish equivalents?

--You'll be hard-pressed to find an American film, spoken in American English, with end credits that play to a foreign-language song.  Give the Swedes credit here.

--The film itself plays unlike American films.  I was surprised at the difference, but I don't know why.  It's just simpler, and I mean that in a good, stripped-down kind of way.  No flash, no substance.  The viewer is content to see the movie unfold at its own pace, which is slow compared to an American film of the violent, serial killer, suspense genre.  When the action does happen, it isn't glorified, which American movie violence so clearly is.  This last is maybe the biggest difference between the films of the two countries.

--Maybe it's the substance of Salander and Blomqvist, but the film seems to indicate that the average Swede in general is more advanced technologically.  There was a computer in every house of every character, even in the log cabin in the woods.  I haven't made it a point to notice, but I'm going to guess that this is not shown in American movies to this degree.  Is it the movie style, or is it that Americans aren't as connected?  And, if the latter is true, how in God's name is that possible?

--Michael Nyqvist and Lena Endre are almost completely naked in one scene.  There is no way they would be in an American movie, and I mean that in the kindest of all possible ways.  But here it fits--they're lovers, after all.  More than that, they play average--maybe slightly better than average--looking people in their, say, mid-40s, who do not work out or do anything that your average Swede in their 40s wouldn't do.  So he's hairy and a bit out of shape, and a tad flabby.  She's wrinkly and a little saggy.  And it's--normal.  Again, no glitz, no flash, no substance.  And they're known, for God's sake, for their brains and persistence, more than their sexiness.  Again, so much not an American movie, and I mean this in a good way.  It's more real.

--I'm thankful that not one character eats an open sandwich in any of the three Millennium films I've seen.  This happens maybe 5,000 times in the three books, to the point that you wonder about their cholesterol counts.

--Salander's half-brother doesn't see demons in this film.  Okay by me, but then you wonder why he just drops the bar he's holding and simply walks away at the end, when he clearly could've taken care of Blomqvist and finished off his father and half-sister, had he the desire.

--Lots of scenes where characters are sitting down and explaining things to other characters, usually while sipping coffee and/or smoking.  (Again, you wonder about the health of the average Swede.)  Anyway, this simply wouldn't happen in an American movie, as it would be considered too slow and boring.  I mean, it is slow, but that's real, right?  It works here because this sort of thing is consistent throughout the movie and series, and books.  I'm no sleuth, but I'll bet investigations really do unfold like that.  So why not show it that way?

--Speaking of smoking cigarettes, I hope Rapace smokes fake ones in the movies, like they do on Mad Men, because she's consumed about 25 cartons in the two films.  And is it okay that I say that Rapace looks prettier in this one, with her longer hair?

--Swedish cities look like pretty, happenin' places.  Swedish countryside, not so much.  Very, very blech.  I know it's countryside, and I know it doesn't really look like it does in The Wizard of Oz, but here it just looks drab and depressing.  And wet, splotchy and old.

--Ambulances in Sweden are canary yellow, and have an odd shape.  Not odd to the Swedes, though, of course.

--Swedish cities look clean.  Where are all the cigarette butts?

--Roger Ebert disagreed with my comparison to the first film, saying that they're both good, but the first one was better.  But what does he know about films?


  1. I can think of one movie-- The Darjeeling Limited. The song played in the credits was the French song "Les Champs d'Elysees" ( The reason I remember so vividly was because I knew the song from when I studied abroad in France quite a few years ago, and although I had it on a CD that I'd listen to now and then, no one else I knew knew the song... then I was sitting in a movie theater watching "Darjeeling Limited" (mostly because the movie took place in India, not because I knew who Wes Anderson was at the time) and the credits start rolling, and this French song I knew started playing.

    While on the subject of France and coffee drinking (mentioned above)... it's funny that you mention the constant coffee drinking in Sweden. I always assumed the countries that drank the most coffee in the world were the ones you most associate with coffee-- France, Italy. However it's actually Scandinavia! I think the top 6 are: Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden ( My boss is Danish and he is literally drinking coffee all day long--I can tell when he is walking to my office because I hear the "tink tink" of his spoon hitting the side of his coffee mug as he comes up the stairs (because when he isn't sipping his coffee, he is stirring his coffee).

    1. Good memory! Studying abroad must've been exciting. I would love to do that. And, yeah, for some reason, I think that those in Scandanavian countries were supposed to be of above-average health, but that's not what it's looked like lately.

  2. It is strange that American movies these days have almost NO smoking in them. And I agree about the nudity - the last real "nude" scene I appreciated was Harvey Keitel's in "The Piano." Everything else is fluff or a body double.

    And it's funny that you should mention the "blech" of the countryside. My sister theorized that incest was high in Sweden because their rural areas were lonesome and boring. Not sure where she got her stats, but your opinion of the scenery seems like truth enough for me.

  3. Interesting theory! That would indeed explain a few things. But Appalachia country looks interesting enough.

    (I apologize to my readers from that neck of the woods.)