Sunday, February 02, 2014

The understated political and moral themes of the Swedish film, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

There is a certain satisfaction of having watched the CD of the 2009 Swedish version of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo starring Michael Nyqvist (Swedish) and Noomi Rapace (who is reported to speak perfect Icelandic because she spent her very early years there with her, and she is half-Swedish because of her mother and half-Spanish because of her father, and directed by Niels Arden Oplev, a Dane. Stieg Larsson, the author of the detective-crime novel is a science fiction aficionado and a leftist who was a member of the Communist League.

The film is stark in its narration. Apart from the gruesome sexual violence which is part of the film and which is handled in a matter-of-fact tone, there is the interesting angle that the victims are Jewish women and German connections. But nothing of this over-emphasised. But they are not insignificant parts of the story. It reveals the psychological secrets and fissures in Swedish society,lurking beneath the surface. But no rhetorical statements are inserted about them. They are there to understand the big picture as it were.

Nykvist and Rapace give understated performances in keeping with the tone of the film. Rapace's Lisbeth is tortured soul and a victim of sexual violence. Rapace conveys the scars that Lisbeth carries with admirable restraint. And Nykvist plays the underdog journalist who is fighting the Goliaths of evil in society without the hero's swagger.

What comes through this Swedish film is not the mere unravelling of a crime puzzle but the reflection of the moral strains of individuals and society, and it is shown again without much fanfare that crime/evil/injustice can only be fought through goodness/honesty and that something called love.

Despite the violence and the gloom that pervades the film, that sweet undercurrent of goodness keeps it from being reduced to a spectacle of meaningless violence. At the same time, it is not weighed down by the moral and political themes underlying the action in the film. There is reconciliation and light at the end of the tunnel.

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