‘Cold Case Hammarskjöld’ Review: A Political Mystery Uncovers a Horrifying Conspiracy in This True Crime Doc

/Film | 3/4/2019 | Abby Olcese
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In 1961, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash on his way to broker a peace deal in the Congo. The official stated cause of the crash was pilot error. However, considering Hammarskjöld was an outspoken proponent of African countries retaining autonomy over their resources, and that the rebel leader he was meeting with was a puppet of a Belgian mining company, rumors circulated for years that foul play was afoot.

Danish journalist Mads Brügger’s documentary, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, looks into the details of that case, and explores the very likely possibility that Hammarskjöld’s death was in fact a murder. Brügger, a gonzo provocateur known for genre-blending docs like The Red Chapel and The Ambassador, is joined in his research by Swedish private investigator Göran Björkdahl, who has his own connection to the case. Along the way, their investigation uncovers an even bigger conspiracy involving imperialism, murder and attempted genocide, one with staggering implications.

Case - Brügger - Films - Amount - Shenanigans

As is the case with many of Brügger’s films, there are a fair amount of self-aware shenanigans involved in the movie’s framework. Brügger combines the clandestine subject matter of Jon Ronson, the performative streak of Michael Moore and the shamelessness of Hunter S. Thompson, to the point where it can be tough to tell how sincere he is about the work. But, to his credit, the journalist is pretty up-front about his motives. He flat-out tells us his main interest in the Hammarskjöld case is that it gives him an excuse to dive into weird conspiracy theories and secret organizations. The film’s performative elements, like trying to locate the remains of Hammarskjöld’s plane with a metal detector and a couple of shovels, or hiring a couple of African secretaries to take dictation, are there to help bring dramatic interest to a story Brügger fears isn’t panning...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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