It seems that several literature-to-film series are coming to an end and, finally, looming questions will be answered. This week both the final Harry Potter (or at least the first half) opened in theaters as well as the more adult The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Whereas fans of the Harry Potter series have waited patiently through six previous films, followers of the Millenium series were treated to all three Swedish-language films over the course of 2010.
I didn't read the books, but I've enjoyed the films so far and was eager to find out what happened to Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) in this final chapter. The last time we saw Lisbeth in The Girl Who Played With Fire she wasn't in the greatest shape. Now, she's hospitalized recovering from the injuries she sustained while fighting her father, who framed her for murder. Lisbeth is a complete badass, but is also private and closed off. In order to clear her name and walk free, she must divulge information about her experiences, which may not be the easiest thing for her to share, specifically the fact that her former guardian raped her.
When it comes to series, whether in literature or on film, we often find ourselves eager to find out the outcome of drawn out plotlines. For example, in Harry Potter, we're anticipating the big showdown between Harry and Voldemort. But, when it comes to the Millenium series, I find myself wanting to delve deeper into Lisbeth's fragile character and jilted past. And I'm more interested in that than learning whether or not she's acquitted. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest revealed a few more of Lisbeth's secrets, but mostly just reiterated what we learned in the two previous films.
In The Girl Who Played With Fire, Lisbeth took center stage and all of the action focused on her, with little interaction with Mikael. This time around, Lisbeth spends most of her time either in a hospital bed or in a jail cell, so Mikael is finally given the opportunity to shine. Mikael is willing to go to great lengths to help Lisbeth, which includes getting his sister to be her lawyer and publishing an entire issue of Millenium with the evidence he's gathered proving her innocence. Beyond the extensive interviews and time spent writing, Mikael gets to throw a few punches of his own, which is nice as the action throughout is minimal.
When thinking back to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it seems completely different from the last two films in the series, despite key events that occur. The last two films almost feel like one continuous story, whereas the first film stood more solidly on its own. Though the series is, in essence, a mystery, the first and second films were full of action sequences. Hornet's Nest is more of a courtroom drama.
Lisbeth has always been a woman of few words, which is continued in this film as much of her time is spent in recovery in the hospital. Where we truly get to see her shine is during her trial, where she's completely punked out - spikes, chains, leather and full Mohawk. The prosecution points out that she never spoke a word during the seven attempts they made to interview her, which is no surprise. However, during the trial Lisbeth displays her quick wit and sharp intellect, making the prosecution look like amateurs. Lisbeth's lack of dialogue really allows Rapace to act, and she again is bone-chillingly amazing. It will be nice to see her in Hollywood films soon.
All good literature-to-film adaptations must come to an end, but at least we have the American adaptations of the Millennium series to look forward to, though the Swedish versions are going to be tough to top. And, hey, don't get down just yet, there's still one more Harry Potter movie left.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist.
Directed by Daniel Alfredson.