Millennium Series

Lisbeth Salander

The Millennium series (1954 – 2004) is a series of bestselling novels originally written in Swedish by the late Stieg Larsson. The primary characters in the series are Lisbeth Salander, an intelligent, eccentric woman in her twenties with a photographic memory and poor social skills, and Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist and editor of a magazine called ‘Millennium.’ Blomkvist, the character, has a history similar to Larsson, the author.

There are three books in the series: ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,’ ‘The Girl Who Played with Fire,’ and ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.’ When he died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004, Larsson left behind manuscripts of the completed but unpublished novels written as a series. He had written them for his own pleasure after returning home from his job in the evening, and had made no attempt to get them published until shortly before his death.

When Larsson was 15 years old, he witnessed the gang rape of a girl, which led to his lifelong abhorrence of violence and abuse against women. The author never forgave himself for failing to help the girl, which inspired the themes of sexual violence against women in his books. Larsson was also influenced by the murders of three women (Melissa Nordell, Fadime Sahindal, and Catrine Da Costa) in writing the ‘Millennium’ series. All three women were killed either at the hands of men or as victims of horrific crimes. To Larsson there was no difference, and ‘systematic violence’ against women highly affected and inspired him to take action against these crimes through his writing. Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson’s longtime partner, wrote that ‘the trilogy allowed Stieg to denounce everyone he loathed for their cowardice, their irresponsibility, and their opportunism: couch-potato activists, sunny-day warriors, fair-weather skippers who pick and choose their causes; false friends who used him to advance their own careers; unscrupulous company heads and shareholders who wangle themselves huge bonuses… Seen in this light, Stieg couldn’t have had any better therapy for what ailed his soul than writing his novels.’

Larsson wrote about three-quarters of a fourth novel before his sudden death in 2004. Gabrielsson is in possession of the notebook computer with the manuscript but does not own the rights to Larsson’s work. This is because Larsson, in an attempt to protect her from the people he was investigating in real life (Swedish Neo-Nazis and racists), never married and wrote his will without any witness (thus making it invalid according to Swedish law). Thus, at his death, his family takes the bulk of his estate. Outlines or manuscripts for one or two more books may exist.

The Swedish film production company Yellow Bird has produced film versions of the ‘Millennium Trilogy,’ co-produced with The Danish film production company Nordisk Film and television company, which were released in Scandinavia in 2009. In 2010, the films were shown in an extended version of approximately 180 minutes per film as a six-part miniseries (each film divided in two parts of 90 minutes) on Swedish television.

Yellow Bird, Relativity Media, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, and BBC Films have partnered with Sony Pictures to produce an American adaptation of the trilogy. The films are to be written by Steven Zaillian, directed by David Fincher and produced by Scott Rudin, with Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander.

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