Raise your hand if you want to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now put your hand down if you’ve already seen the original. Again, put your hand down if you’ve read the book. In Swedish? Ok, ok, that’s asking a bit much. But seeing as there are so few of you with your hands left up, let’s start with a quick background.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was originally a book written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. It was followed by the other two books in the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. The three quickly became fast fan favorites and were translated into English, along with several other languages. The first book was then turned into a movie in Sweden, Män som hatar kvinnor. (In English this apparently means The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.)
So for those of you hearing about and seeing this movie for the first time, please keep in mind that this is a remake based off of a book, which David Fincher probably read in English, not Swedish.
Many an audience member would expect The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to simply be another attempt by the United States to make a couple of extra bucks off of someone else’s genius. However, Fincher’s version of this cult classic does not disappoint. With beautiful cinematography, actors who fully embody their characters, and a plot unlike any other, this film keeps you on the edge of your seat whether you know what’s coming or not.
The story begins as a two-in-one. First we meet Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a reporter who’s just been convicted on several counts of libel. Next, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is introduced; a ward of the state whose introverted and anti-social tendencies were misinterpreted in her youth as ineptitude. The two meet when Blomkvist begins investigating the alleged death of a family member of Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who’s bank account ranks him at baller, or bällör in Swedish.
The film keeps to the scene-setting of beautiful Sweden, instead of attempting to change the movie to a setting in the U.S. This decision pays off in the long run with the movie seeming authentic and true to the plot. Shit like this would never happen in northern Minnesota, I hope.
Like the setting, there were very few things actually omitted from the original plot line. However, aspects in this version seemed much more set in stone compared to the original movie and book. The play between character relationships is so certain that it leaves the audience with one less thing to contemplate, opposed to the twisted mazes of thought that viewers experienced in the Swedish version.
While Fincher strived for an aesthetic true to the original, this movie still shows Hollywood influences, although not necessarily in a negative way. Even I can enjoy the blatant abuse of Daniel Craig’s body, because everyone enjoys walking around half-naked in a shack located in -20 degree-weather. And just so you know, Lisbeth probably wouldn’t walk around in sexy lingerie in her hotel room. Why so much sex Hollywood? A rape scene that takes place towards the beginning of the film was something that I literally had to turn away from in the original. Let’s just say Fincher’s version was tolerable in comparison.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, while a bit different from the original, is by far worth the steep nine dollars you might be paying to go see it. (Come on. You’ve already spent that on Cowboys & Aliens.) After seeing it I was left thinking whether or not this type of film would originally be made in the U.S. Alas, another Swede has brought us a fantastic story. Although at times The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo makes the audience uncomfortable, the curving plot line and anticipatory anxiousness makes it well worth the watch.