Millennium actress slams Swedish ‘Jante’ tradition

Currently back in her native Sweden at the Gothenburg Film Festival, Stieg Larsson star and London resident Noomi Rapace says she finds the Swedish attitude to success "oppressive".

Millennium actress Noomi Rapace is in Sweden to promote her most recent blockbuster, The Drop. But the Hollywood star says she no longer feels at home in her native country. 

“I have always felt like an outsider. I wanted to be the best at everything and you are not allowed to say that,” the Swedish actress tells Swedish newspaper Metro.

The 35-year-old star, whose movie is showing at the Gothenburg Film Festival, has hit out at a 90-year-old Scandinavian tradition: 'jantelagen' or the Jante Law.

The phenomenon, which discourages individual achievement and instead encourages collective rewards was coined by Danish-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose in 1933 but is also deeply ingrained in Swedish culture and society. 

It goes hand in hand with the untranslatable Swedish word 'lagom', which roughly means 'sufficient', 'just enough', 'average' or 'just right' in English.

Noomi Rapace – who now lives in London with her 11-year-old son Lev – says she finds this attitude destructive.

“It’s pretty comical that Zlatan is a hero in this country. He’s the opposite of all that – he wanted to become the best and everyone loves him now that he is.”

Noomi Rapace herself is anything but 'lagom'. When she takes on a role she goes all in, be it Lisbeth Salander in the Stieg Larsson Millennium series or a CIA agent in upcoming thriller Unlocked – also starring Michael Douglas and Orlando Bloom – which she has just finished shooting.

“We shot a scene where I was kicking a sack. I didn’t notice I scraped up both my knuckles and elbows so it started bleeding,” she told Metro.


Lisbeth Salander is back in fifth Millennium book

The Millennium series' famous computer hacker Lisbeth Salander is set to grip readers' imaginations again as the fifth volume hits the bookshelves on Thursday.

Lisbeth Salander is back in fifth Millennium book
Author David Lagercrantz. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

The new book by the 55-year-old David Lagercrantz, titled 'The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye', promised to reveal more secrets surrounding the mysterious Salander's troubled childhood and the true meaning behind her iconic dragon-shaped tattoo.

When Lagercrantz's 'The Girl in the Spider's Web', which received mixed reviews, was launched in 2015, he was met with overcrowded press conferences, journalists waiting in the queue for interviews, and he signed books until midnight.

The launch of the fifth volume is more low key as Lagercrantz will make no public appearance until he kicks off his book tour on September 10th.

'The Girl in the Spider's Web' was the first to continue the trilogy conceived by Stieg Larsson, who became one of the world's best-loved crime writers.

But Larsson's fame came posthumously as he died at the age of 50 from a heart attack in 2004, a year before the release of the first book in the series, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo', followed by 'The Girl Who Played with Fire' (2006) and 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest' (2007).

'More banal'

While many Larsson fans rejoiced over the continuation of the trilogy when Lagercrantz was selected to write the fourth book, some – including Larsson's longtime partner Eva Gabrielsson – vehemently opposed him taking up the torch, calling him “a totally idiotic choice”.

“Everybody was very curious. We wanted to see if he was going to succeed,” Kerstin Bergman, literature professor at Lund University, told AFP.

“It was a good crime novel, very different from Stieg Larsson's,” she said, referring to the fourth book, which sold six million copies in 47 countries.

“There were introspective characters,” Bergman added.

Lagercrantz intends to transform the series and convince those who criticize his endeavour.

But as much as readers can't get enough of Salander's punk-rock style and feminist flair, the hype over Lagercrantz's continuation of the series is not what it used to be.

“Now it's more banal. People love characters and want to read about their adventures,” said Bergman, who is also a specialist in Nordic Noir, a genre that mixes crime fiction and social criticism.

“Continuing the series as it did is extremely unusual (…) it's an exclusively commercial project, but the choice of Lagercrantz is probably the best,” Bergman said.

'More sensitive character'

In 'The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye', Lagercrantz throws Salander “into the worst prison for women, where she immediately encounters a lot of problems”, he told AFP in the spring.

Alongside Salander, readers will find Mikael Blomqvist, a talented investigative journalist who's also worn out by life.

As the duo investigate the abuse of power and the social injustice that Salander has gone through, they try to overcome new obstacles.

And if the author believes that Salander has seen enough in the previous crime novels, then the worst may be yet to come.

Lagercrantz has admitted that bringing this young woman with a dark past back to life in the books has caused him a headache. Contrary to Stieg Larsson, Lagercrantz said he would have chosen a heroine with a “sweeter, nicer and more sensitive” character.

In a relentless search for inspiration, Lagercrantz wrote on his publishing company's website that he interviewed “doctors, archivists, robotics researchers, Bangladeshi bloggers threatened to death” and visited a prison in south-eastern Sweden.

'The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye' is to be published in 34 countries. Twenty-six of these countries, including Sweden, Britain, the United States, Germany and France, will release the book on Thursday.

A former journalist, Lagercrantz was previously best known for his biography of footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Lagercrantz has also signed on to write the sixth book, which he insisted would be his last in the series.

Article written by AFP's Camille Bas-Wohlert