Today I screened Millennium: The Story, a documentary about author Stieg Larsson.
A look at the author's life from birth to death, this informative film by Lawrence Lownethal taught me a great deal about this famous man.
Larsson grew up in a modest country home with no hot water, sleeping in the same bed with all of his family members for warmth. They were a happy family and his childhood was good. He traveled to many places as a politically charged adult, but spent most of his time in Stockholm, where his famous novels are set.
His life mirrored that of his books' hero, Mikael Blomkvist, as Larsson was an investigative journalist for a quarterly magazine (Expo) just like his alter ego was with Millennium. His colleagues joked that Mikael was a projection of what Stieg always wanted to be, having lots of women and sex. Unfortunately, the true parallels of the mens' lives were the violent ones. Larsson was always looking over his shoulder as the target of neo-nazi groups he had publicly condemned. For this reason, he never married his partner of over thirty years or listed his address as the same as hers publicly. He thought that tricking the bad guys into believing he was alone would protect her from their wrath, and apparently he succeeded. However, because he never married her, his estate is the source of constant controversy.
When he died at age 50 from a sudden heart attack, his books had not yet become the phenomenon they are today. In fact, he never saw a penny of his own success.
Of course they went on to break sales records and secure multimillion dollar movie deals, so quite a fortune was to be made. But who does it belong to? The family who raised him and will forever be linked by blood, or the woman he chose as his family for three decades? The courts say it's the family.
His surviving relatives (Dad and Brother both speak in this film) claim to not want the large sums of money for themselves. On camera his father says he has no interest in fancy cars and just wants a "quiet life." They also want to put some of the money toward women's charities, which surely would've pleased the author.
Then there's the matter of the unfinished book. Larsson was 3/4 of the way through the fourth book in the series (he planned to write 10) and so there is a debate about completing and publishing that book.
Let this be a lesson to all of us: it's important to create a will that clearly states your wishes, no matter how many years you assume you have left to live.
It feels like there is no right answer. In a perfect world, the common-law wife and the surviving relatives would split everything down the middle, but legally it's not that simple.
The documentary does a very good job of not "taking sides" and truly celebrating the wonder that was the author.
I truly enjoyed learning little trivia facts (he loved to eat pizza, just like his characters and also based part of Lisbeth on Pippi Longstocking). I also enjoyed seeing the movie versions of Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) praising the stories, and learning that there is a Millennium tour that I can take the next time I'm in Stockholm.
After reading the books, seeing the movies and watching this documentary, I'm certain I will!