CRITIC dividing book and film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be discussed by an English literature expert ahead of a screening.
Dr Emma Rees from the University of Chester will explore the themes of the work before the film is shown in the city.
As part of the Chester Performs festival, the senior lecturer in English will discuss the adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novel to screen, drawing out the relationship between book and film and presenting her personal take on both.Š
In the film – set for a Hollywood remake in 2011, rumoured to star Brad Pitt – Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander are hired to investigate the disappearance of Harriet Vanger some 40 years ago.
When the pair link her disappearance to a number of grotesque murders they unravel a dark family history and find out just how far the dysfunctional Vangers are prepared to go to protect themselves.
Part of Dr Rees’s discussion will cover the literary merits of the book, the idea of social facade versus grim reality, misogyny, and the ethics of violence on film as well as the two lead characters, Blomkvist and Salander.
“The parallels between Blomkvist and his creator, Larsson, are many,” said Dr Rees.
“Both are men in their 40s who work obsessively for militant left wing newspapers. Where the characters diverge, however, is in Blomkvist's seemingly irresistible power to draw women into sexual trysts with him at improbably regular intervals.
“For all his politically-correct feminist credentials, Larsson could not help, one feels, but live vicariously through the insatiable and irresistible womaniser, Blomkvist.”
She added: “Lisbeth Salander is a very problematic character. She’s depicted by Larsson in his three novels (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest) as being literally anti-social, a computer hacker with a dark past which has led her to be innately distrustful of everyone she meets, especially men.
“She is something of a caricature – a bit too savvy and too rebellious to be much more than a cartoon stereotype in the Tank Girl tradition, but she is also an ‘everywoman’, righting wrongs against women in a startlingly brutal way that sometimes, critics might argue, verges on the unethical.”
Dr Rees will also discuss the strange circumstances of the author’s life and death – a subject that has long fascinated fans of his work.
She explained: “Larsson was an anti-fascist activist and journalist based in Sweden. He never married his long-term partner, Eva Gabrielsson, because getting married in Sweden means publishing your address, and Larsson feared for Eva’s safety because of threats he’d received from neo-Nazi organisations.
“In 2004, the lifts at Larsson’s workplace were out of order and, forced to climb several flights of stairs to his office, he died from a massive heart attack. He was 50 years old.
“His untimely death was officially attributed to his obesity, workaholic tendencies, and heavy smoking habit yet various conspiracy theories are in circulation noting that his death was so bizarre that it could only have been somehow brought about by right-wingers.”
This Swedish film adaptation (which has English subtitles) of the first novel from the international best-selling Millennium trilogy will be shown at St Mary's Centre, St Mary's Hill, Chester on Tuesday June 1, immediately following Dr Rees’s 7pm talk.
Tickets for the event, priced £6/£4, can be booked at www.chesterperforms.com, by calling 0843 208 0500 or from Chester Tourist Information.