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The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018) reboots the Millennium franchise for a new audience. With The Crown’s Claire Foy taking over from Rooney Mara as everyone’s favourite vigilante hacker, Lisbeth Salander, and Fede Álvarez in the director’s chair, the movie reinvigorates a universe created by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson.
Salander is a heroine for the #MeToo era as she continues on her quest to be an angel of vengeance for abused women. Alongside her faithful sidekick, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason), and with the help of some nifty new gadgets, she navigates a tangled web of deceit, spies and corrupt officials.
Sufficiently punked up, British actor Foy is unrecognisable from her turn as Queen Elizabeth II as she evades secret service agents in her battle to save the world from possible nuclear Armageddon, all the while being relentlessly hounded by ghosts from her past.
Key to the movie’s stylish look was the choice of filming locations: Germany’s capital Berlin stands in for Stockholm in Sweden, where the series is principally set. The filmmakers wanted to portray the grimy heart of The Girl in the Spider’s Web as vividly as possible.
“Fede didn’t want to show Sweden and Stockholm as it is because Stockholm is a very sweet city, a very beautiful city, very picturesque,” says Klaude Gross Darrelmann, the film’s location manager. “He wanted the dark side of the city and we had to find a lot of these locations in Berlin.”
Álvarez was keen to show a side of Stockholm different from what tourists might expect. “We worked hard to show you this face of Stockholm that we’re interested in; this is not the Europe of old buildings,” he says. “It’s actually more of a modern city, representing a very cosmopolitan Europe, and you’ll feel that in the movie – every character seems to be from a different part of the world.”
The movie was shot in 30 locations in Berlin – including Tresor, an underground techno nightclub, former National Security Agency (NSA) spy station Teufelsberg and a private apartment on top of Sammlung Boros, an art gallery in a converted bunker – as well as in Hamburg, Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria.
For producer Elizabeth Cantillon, the city had everything they needed. “We’re going for Nordic noir and Berlin offered a lot of that same vibe because in the winter it’s very beautiful but it’s very grey and it has a sort of romantic quality to it,” she explains. “It’s almost black and white in real life so it provided a lot of strong visual imagery for Fede.”
The film is a sequel to David Fincher’s critically acclaimed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and the second Hollywood take on the Millennium series. Larsson’s trilogy and the two follow-ups penned by Swedish journalist David Lagercrantz have sold millions of copies worldwide.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is available to purchase from Sony Pictures on iTunes in the US from 22 January and from 16 March in the UK; it’s out on Blu-ray in the US from 5 February and in the UK from 25 March.