Cold Case Hammarskjöld
(director/writer: Mads Brügger; cinematographer: Tore Vollan; editor: Nicolás Norgaard Staffolani; music: John Erik Kaada; cast: Mads Brügger, Göran Björkdahl, Alexander Jones, Jan Beuckels, René Goor, Tonie Groenewald, De Wet Potgieter; Runtime: 128; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Peter Engel, Andreas Rocksen, Bjarte M. Tveit; Magnolia Pictures; 2019-Denmark/Norway/Sweden/Belgium-in English, Danish and French, with English subtitles)
“The documentary thriller is based on his belief that there may be more going on here regarding Hammarskjöld’s death than the authorities were revealing. “
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Danish director, provocateur, journalist and satirist Mads Brügger (“The Red Chapel”/”The Ambassador”) makes non-fiction films that might be fiction films. He also loves putting himself in the middle of his muckraking documentaries–here he roves around Africa in a pith helmet. If nothing else, he’s entertaining. The documentary thriller is based on his belief that there may be more going on here regarding Hammarskjöld’s death than the authorities were revealing.
In 1961, the 56-year-old United Nations secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane mysteriously crashed, killing Hammarskjöld and most of the crew, in Ndola, Rhodesia. Dag was negotiating a cease-fire between troops in the Republic of Katanga and U.N. forces (the conflict was over the vying for power in the Congo, for their rich natural resources, of both the Soviet Union and Belgium). The case is still unsolved 50-plus years later. In 1953, Hammarskjöld becomes the UN secretary-general.
Mads offers several conspiracy theories on the death of the the great Swedish statesman, economist and diplomat who helped formulate the Marshall Plan to rebuild postwar Europe.
Since 2011 independent Swedish investigator Göran Björkdahl has come to believe that it may not have been a crash but that his plane was shot down as a political assassination. Brügger teams up with Björkdahl, and they lay out their ample supply of evidence trying to clear things up. Mads claims that the story he and Björkdahl have stumbled upon is either “the world’s biggest murder mystery, or the world’s most idiotic conspiracy theory.” No final answers are reached, but a diverting historical mystery story is filmed even if the investigative reporting here is questionable and Mads is viewed as an untrustworthy documentarian.
The film works best for the viewer interested in the odd conspiracy theories put forth and all the controversies they stir up.
REVIEWED ON 8/17/2019 GRADE: