Monday, December 26, 2011

To The Movies: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

When a storyline from a book is turned into a movie, the movie becomes its own text. The basic storyline may be the same, but when changes are made in order to fit the movie within a time limit or to highlight an element or theme that the people involved in the movie feels is important—they make the story their own. I will focus these features on movies made based on books I have read—I want to look beyond whether I think the movie is better or worse than the book. I want to appreciate and review the movie as a companion to the book.

Genre: Drama, Thriller
Actors: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, and Christopher Plummer
Director: David Fincher
Scriptwriter: Steven Zaillian
Release Date: December 20, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Movie Info: IMDB | Website
Review of The Millennium Trilogy: Here
Rating: 3 Stars
Purchased ticket.

In A Nutshell:
I loved the books!  I loved the Swedish versions of the movies!  I went to see this movie with some apprehension--how will it compare.  In the end, I am glad I watched it but I have a few concerns about what I saw.


After seeing this movie poster--I did not have high hopes for this movie.  The image did not necessarily offend me, but I could not see a woman like Lisbeth, who had been so thoroughly victimized by society, actually posing like that.   I have also watched the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and I loved it.  Why did we need another version?  I mention these two issues because I feel that they may have affected my feelings about this movie.

There were things I really liked about this movie.  I loved that it was longer--and that with the added length we got to see more of the details from the book.  We got to see more of the process that lead Mikael and Lisbeth to uncover the truth.  It was those details that drew me into the book--and I loved seeing them come to life on the screen.

But there were a few more things that I did not like about the move.  First (and I am warning you now that this one is a spoiler), they changed the ending.  Rather than having Anita Vanger and Harriet Vanger living separate lives in separate countries--they had Harriet taking over Anita's life after her untimely death 20 years earlier.  Why?  I also question how realistic this modification is.  What are the chances that someone in the Vanger family would not have travelled to London in 20 years and in traveling to London would not have looked up their family member who lived there?  I understand that this family was dysfunctional--but the risk seemed a little too high for me considering how easily Mikael found Anita/Harriet in London.

Second (I really don't feel this is a spoiler), the opening sequence with the leading cast members' name listed.  The sequence is very fast and graphically interesting, but it is too fast.  It is hard to determine what the pictures actually depict--and consequently the meaning they are trying to convey.  And without understanding the meaning it felt like a awful lot of time to waste in the course of the story.  This sequence is also situated between the opening clip and the rest of the movie--so the lack of meaning stood out to me quite substantially.  The imagery also did not come up later--so it seemed out of place.

Third (could be considered by some to be a spoiler), I missed having the end tied to the beginning.  In the book--it was such an important moment when Harriet, Henrik and Mikael are looking at the flowers and she explains that she sent them hoping that Henrik would know that she was safe somewhere.  In the movie--their story ends at Harriet and Henrik hugging at the front door.  I missed that imagery and that moment that tied back to the opening sequence--the moment when Henrik decided that he was going to find out what happened to Harriet no matter what.  

I do not regret watching the movie--in fact I will say that I am glad I went to see the movie.  But I liked the Swedish version more and will probably buy that version rather than waiting for this version to come out on DVD.

It comes in an extended version!! I want it!!


  1. Great review. Like you, I love the books and the Swedish films and was not happy when I heard Hollywood was producing a new version. Why do we need it when the Swedish films were so good?
    I might see the US version just to compare, but I too will be buying the Swedish ones on Bluray soon!

  2. I will watch the American version but still don't know why there had to be one. The Swedish films are fantastic!

    XOXO Angela's Anxious Life

  3. @Nicki I bet the Swedish version on bluray will be awesome!

    @Angie My personal opinion is that it was Larsson's family trying to make more money on his story--which annoys me a little because from what I have read about him I do not think he would have made the same decisions.