Fire keeps Millenium trilogy flickering

For Daniel Alfredson film’s a family affair

Ah Sweden: the glorious Nordic nation beloved for ABBA Ikea and its meatballs. Continuing in the proud tradition of Ingmar Bergman Lasse Hallström and Dolph Lundgren the Kingdom of the Swedes has also made a cinematic resurgence as of late starting with the bloody good vampire kid flick Let the Right One In and followed by the scorching hot feminist revenge Millennium trilogy — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo The Girl Who Played with Fire and the upcoming The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest — based on author-journalist Stieg Larsson’s bestselling books.

Behind the scenes it’s interesting to note that Daniel Alfredson director of the film trilogy’s second and third titles is the older brother of Tomas Alfredson director of Let the Right One In. Further these cinematic siblings are also the offspring of famed Swedish actor-writer-director Hans Alfredson active since the late ’50s and also a Hornet’s Nest cast member. For the Alfredson family film is the only world they’ve ever inhabited.

“I’m simply not used to anything else” Daniel Alfredson says with a laugh. “This industry is something my brother and I were born into and it feels natural for us to keep up the family business. When I was 20 or 22 I made the decision that I shouldn’t work in film but then things started happening and I just said ‘Oh well.’”

One of these humbly stated “things” that fell into Alfredson’s lap was a manuscript of Larsson’s first novel then titled Män som hatar kvinnor or in English Men Who Hate Women . He raced through the crime story and fell in love with its real-life settings spread throughout his native Stockholm and Gothenburg and its vicious female protagonist and expert computer hacker Lisbeth Salander also the owner of the book’s titular tattoo.

“At that time I was working for a public service company in Sweden and we had contact with all of the big publishers” Alfredson explains. “One of them had these book scripts from Stieg Larsson and they were asking us if we were interested in making a TV show from them. That was the first idea. I read the first and second books three or four months before they were released in Sweden and thought they were great. I loved the character of Lisbeth Salander especially. She stuck with me.”

One of the most striking aspects of Alfredson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire adaptation is the unhurried pace at which its story unfolds free of the ADD jump cuts seizure-inducing fight scenes and obligatory car chases typical of big-budget blockbusters. Rather while Fire does include a handful of graphically violent sequences and one of the steamiest girl-on-girl sex scenes this side of Mulholland Dr. it all works within the plot rather than being written in purely for teenage males.

“We stuck to a sort of Swedish way of making this film” chuckles Alfredson. “We always try to insert some emotion while the story is being told and try not to be so intense all the time. I think if you read the novels they have that pace as well so it was our intention to stay close to the original books.”

“As for the sex scene I thought it was very important for the character because it showed a different side of her” he continues. “She’s practically all alone throughout the rest of the film while the sex scene shows that she can be caring and loving. That said I’m surprised people in North America find it all that explicit. Back in Sweden there hasn’t even been one journalist who’s asked me about it yet.”