Tag Archives: Björn Granath

When we held hands

There we were, behind a makeshift curtain on the stage at one of the sixth form colleges in Halmstad, staring down at a bucket filled with compost. And then we walked out in front of the audience, hand in hand, and I certified that I had in fact seen a naked, Spanish man at the back. That’s all Björn Granath needed me for.

I must have looked the type who just adores being the one to ‘volunteer’ to come up on stage. I wasn’t, but realised I had to, since my friends on either side didn’t really fit the bill for looking at naked men.

It was the mid-1970s and we’d come to see Dario Fo’s Dom har dödat en gitarr men folket har tusen åter,* brought to us by Teater Narren. There were two of them, but I can only recall the one who held my hand, and whenever Björn has popped up on screens since that night, I remember the bucket. And how much of an idiot I felt like.

(I have to point out here that bucket of compost in Swedish ‘could’ sound just like naked Spanish man. So I didn’t lie.)

Björn’s character had to persuade the other character that there was this person in a state of undress at the back. Sounds like typical Dario Fo, if you ask me. And I suppose he did ask me.

I’ve just learned that Björn died earlier this month. Far too early. He was only ten years older than me. But at least from those early beginnings, he went on to pretty close to the top in Swedish drama. And now that I’m no longer standing in front of my grinning companions, I suppose I quite liked my couple of minutes up there.

*’Han matado una guitarra’ in honour of the then recently murdered Víctor Jara.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I think I’ve got it now. There is nothing like watching a film again. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which has just arrived in Britain, and at Cornerhouse, was pretty much the same this time round. But I think I worked out why it’s not doing well with the (male) reviewers that I’ve read.

This is very much Men Who Hate Men Who Hate Women, if you’re with me? The film of Stieg Larsson’s novel is the opposite way round to the traditional crime/thriller/adventure story. I think that may be why I like it, and that may also be why men like it less, even though they could be unaware of the reason.

Mikael Blomkvist might be a hero and he’s fairly intelligent. But it’s Lisbeth Salander who does all the cool stuff. She’s the really intelligent one, she’s the one who is violent, she’s the one who calls the shots on relationship issues. Lisbeth rescues Mikael (sorry about the spoiler, but you should know this by now), and Lisbeth decides if she wants to sleep with him. She runs after the murderer. She rigs up the security in the cottage. Lisbeth gets to ride the motorbike. She sleeps with women. And she has the cool tattoo, whatever your opinion about tattoos may be.

What is there for men to feel comfortable about?

Now that I’ve got all that feminist reasoning out of the way, what remains to be said is that this really is a great film. The book has been criticised for it’s poor language, but that’s less obvious in a film. Swedes are silent, so there is less to say, and less to translate. The subtitling was fine for the most part. Slight difference between murdering and killing, I think, but never mind.

Nice scenery of woods and lakes and empty roads and dramatic bridges. Lots of suddenly very old Swedish actors, and most of those who are famous seem to be in the film. I think there will be less call for a Hollywood version than seemed likely last year. The Swedish version is as it should be, and there is no need for either Branagh or Costner to get involved. Swedes do it better.

Doing it the Swedish way has caused one slight problem, however. It’s an 18. I didn’t see that coming, but I suppose there is just too much nasty sex and violence for 17-year-olds. The rape scene is unpleasant. The worrying thing is that you get used to it. But you have to have it, since the whole trilogy hinges around what happens early on in the first part.

Män som hatar kvinnor – the film review

So how many times have I blogged about this blasted film without ever getting close to reviewing it? Let’s just say that it’s been a few blogs too many. And what shall I call it, now that I have actually – actually – watched it? The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, or Män som hatar kvinnor? I may go for MSHK on the basis that it’s the shortest. The curse against me, or against the film, continued to be operational even after the DVD arrived, as various things conspired to prevent me sitting down to watch immediately.

Now I have. And I was even accompanied for most of the time by the Residential IT Consultant who wasn’t going to watch, on account that he wouldn’t understand it. He watched, he understood most of it, and he cried at the end. So things are as they should be.

It’s a lot easier reading about all this misogyny and violence than it is to watch on screen. I tend to forget how violent the books are, but I’m grateful I had read MSHK before seeing the film, or I would have had far more problems watching the ‘bad stuff’.

The film is surprisingly true to the book, and even though it’s a long film at nearly two and a half hours, it doesn’t feel as if too much has been left out. It marches through what it needs to do without hesitating and it gets to the end, and even begins to look at book two a little. That may not be a bad thing, as I gather number two is in Swedish cinemas on 18th September, with number three close behind on 27th November.

Noomi Rapace

Mikael Blomkvist is less soft than I had imagined him, but other than that, most of the characters are as described in the book. It’s weird having a previously handsome young man like Sven-Bertil Taube as the elderly Vanger, but actors do grow old. Noomi Rapace is really good as Lisbeth Salander. Someone has remarked that she doesn’t come across as having Asperger Syndrome, but that’s not surprising in a film. Not only would it be harder to show, but it might put people off. It’s not essential, as her personality shows very clearly anyway.

I have also seen a suggestion that Erika Berger looks too old in the film, but I wonder if people have been seduced to expect Hollywood youth and beauty from the book, where characters are simply fairly ordinary. Lisbeth, for instance is no seductive bimbo, but a damaged and badly treated young woman with exceptional skills. And we couldn’t help wondering where Hollywood might find a suitable landscape for all this. The scenery is beautiful, but at the same time quite ordinary for Sweden.

It’s a film worth waiting for, although I’d be quite grateful if I don’t have the same delays for the next two. And speaking of people who are older than they used to be; Björn Granath played the old policeman. He was younger when we held hands, all those years ago…

Män som hatar kvinnor

It’s enough to make me jump on a plane to Sweden. Now. But that would make it a fairly expensive cinema visit, so maybe not.

Lisbeth Salander-Noomi Rapace

Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo premiered in Swedish cinemas at the weekend, and it’s been getting glowing reviews. All I’ve got are the trailers, which make the film look tantalisingly good. Reassuringly there seems to be no UK release date, which may mean we’re in for a little bit of a wait? Grrr.

Most of the Swedes who tend to appear in films are in it. The rich old tycoon Vanger is played by Sven-Bertil Taube, who is an institution, and I believe he still lives in London. Peter Haber, the actor who usually plays Beck, is in there, too. And I do have to lay claim to having once held hands with another of the actors, but only in a very innocent sort of way. Embarrassing memory.

From what I’ve read, they plan to make the remaining two books into television films, which may or may not be a good idea. Whether they make it to the British audience faster or slower that way is anybody’s guess.