Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Stieg Larsson: The Man Who Played With Fire’

Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Stieg Larsson: The Man Who Played With Fire’

Sweden’s Stieg Larsson earned acclaim in what some international readers know as his fictional Dragon Tattoo trilogy. But Henrik Georgsson’s documentary Stieg Larsson: The Man who Played with Fire shows something else. That he embodied a real life version of those fictional heroes. Through reenactments, it depicted his investigation of the ideologies and strategies of the far right.

In depicting Larsson’s life and work, this movie doesn’t spoon feed its audiences. There are references here to such things as The Turner Diaries, which inspired white supremacists to commit crimes. The reenactments remind us of the real Larsson and his bookish appearance. Within someone who looks like him is a person that scared Swedish Nazis enough to try to stop him.

These white supremacists threatened both him and his colleagues at Expo, a magazine he co-founded at 1995. Footage and photos exists of those crime scenes which thankfully don’t have graphic depictions of their victims. The movie uses those events as catalysts for two things. The first is the reaction towards those attacks, and the second is the conflict between Larsson and his colleagues.

Despite those personal setbacks, Larsson became a figure in Swedish news shows. That archive footage shows warns audiences of how white supremacists have legitimized themselves as the Swedish Democrats. What’s missing from this film is some information. That party and others like it have garnered 18% of political power in Scandinavia.

There are, lastly, portions in this film capturing blurry footage of right wing extremists trying to threaten journalists. That footage follows talking heads of people who were close to Larsson. They argue that he was eviscerating these people instead of giving them more screen time. This doc tries to argue that same point. It’s not the easiest argument to make but the film survives despite of it.


  • Release Date: 5/1/2019
This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
Comments are closed.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-61364310-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');