Cold Case Hammarskjold
Directed by: Mads Brugger
Starring: Mads Brugger and Goran Bjorkdahl
Classification: PG; 127 minutes
In preparation for his documentative inquiry into the mysterious 1961 plane crash in Africa that killed United Nations secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold, the Danish filmmaker, journalist and provocateur Mads Brugger prepared peculiar provisions for himself and Swedish private investigator Goran Bjorkdahl: Two shovels, two cigars and a pair of pith helmets “to protect our Scandinavian skin.”
The shovels would come in handy – when rabbit holes turn up nothing, the inimitable Brugger is happy to dig more of his own.
The documentary is a gas, with all the conspiracy-theory weirdness of Oliver Stone’s JFK, but with the added attraction of Brugger’s gonzo-journalism shenanigans. Some six years in, after roaming around archives in Africa and Europe and conducting an “enormous amount of interviews with elderly, white, liver-spotted men,” the filmmaker is discouraged that his leads involving Belgian mercenaries, a secret African society and a diabolical man dressed in white had resulted in more questions than answers. But then, as he attempts to salvage his “shipwrecked” film with crafty narrative techniques and other “tricks of the trade,” Brugger and his mild-mannered sidekick come across vital new information.
Maybe it’s real or maybe it’s wackadoodle, but a cold-case investigation is heated up considerably and imaginatively by Brugger’s charismatic film.
Cold Case Hammarskjold opens Aug. 16 in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.