Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dragon and Foyle

Last year I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  It's certainly a page-turner, but, as I said at the time, it's also very graphic in its sadistic detail.  This is something I puzzle over, since Larsson was supposed to be very much against abuse towards women.  Does a book in which sexual abuse is so graphically described really make abusers turn away from their behaviour?  Does it make us more aware?  I haven't read the other two books in the trilogy, which I've now discovered are linked to the first in a number of ways.   I'm still not sure that I want to.  

Nevertheless last night we watched the Swedish movie of the first book in the series.   We fast-forwarded through the abuse scenes (including the one where Lisbeth, the girl of the title, takes vengeance on the man who's abused her) because we really didn't need to see these.  Both my wife and I remembered them from the book without having them portrayed here.

But the film, of course, is a good deal more than abuse; it's an excellent thriller and detective story, and that's its major appeal, I suspect.  (Do many readers go to a book to read about sexual abuse?)  I know that the English version of the movie has been well-received and is highly-regarded, and no doubt Daniel Craig can play a world-weary journalist as well as anyone, but he'd have his work cut out to do better than Michael Nyqvist, whose battered face gives him a head start anyway.  And Noomi Rapace would be hard to beat as Lisbeth (in fact I hear that she does beat her English-language equivalent).  

So in terms of excellent contemporary filmmaking, Dragon Tattoo comes out on top.  Pity about having to fast-forward some parts, though. 

As a total contrast, we've been watching episodes of Foyle's War, a television series set during the Second World War that's been airing since the early 2002, and is due to be revived this year (the series hasn't aired every year).  These are very mild detective stories, relatively-speaking (the three murders in the last episode we saw were exceptional).  The degree of detective work varies; as is so often the case, the earlier episodes had better mysteries than the later ones, but the real pleasure of this series is watching Michael Kitchen, who, as Inspector Foyle, has a wonderful role as a humane policeman who not only aims to see justice done, but more often than not, tempers that justice with mercy, even to some who least deserve it.  

The curiously-named Honeysuckle Weeks plays his co-opted driver (Foyle can't drive a car) and Anthony Howell plays his offsider, who began the series with a prosthetic leg.  This seems to have been forgotten as time goes on!  There have never been more than four episodes per season, so there's no sense of staleness about the series, or the characters.  The earlier episodes were interesting because of a couple of now famous names that appeared in smaller roles: David Tennant (Dr Who) was one such.  

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