Cold Case Hammarskjöld is a movie that if told as a narrative you would have a hard time believe it were true. This documentary is a masterclass in investigative journalism, showing what happens when you dig deep enough and long enough for a story.
Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Björkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations who’s plane crashed in Africa in 1961. They meet with people who saw the plane crash, knew Hammarskjöld, and even some who have their own conspiracies as to what may have happened. But as Brügger and Björkdahl get deeper, they discover something even bigger than just Hammarskjöld.
The film shows us Brügger and Björkdahl’s investigation over six years, showing us nearly every detail of their investigation. What starts off as a somewhat wild goose chase conspiracy theory turns into a starling, heart-racing look at something bigger, deeper, and more shocking. Watching the film, I got the same feeling I had when I first saw David Fincher’s masterpiece, Zodiac, another sprawling true crime story. Every clue, every twist, and every new revelation had my jaw on the floor, my blood rushing, and my stomach turning. This is a film that requires intricate attention, as the middle of the film brings in a lot of new characters, new theories, and new stories. But Brügger brings it all back brilliantly, which only makes the final half hour of the film truly shocking.
Cold Case Hammarskjöld is an outstanding piece of filmmaking and journalism. It is the best documentary of 2019 so far and one of the year’s best films.
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