The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a powerful, gruesome story about a horribly abused woman who teams up with a wounded man to solve a crime and mend her severed psyche. Lisbeth and Michael are dark characters wrapped tightly within a terrifying tale of betrayal, incest, rape and murder. The challenging task of translating Stieg Larsons frightening story that draws a blackened cloud looming unmercifully above complex characters, called for a very skilled visual storyteller, to which both Oplev and Fincher obliged masterfully in their own unique and disturbing ways.
After watching the first (Swedish) movie I was adamant that there could be no other Lisbeth Salander. Noomi Rapace portrayed the character effortlessly. It was as if the female protagonist literally stomped her steal-toed boots out of the pages of my book onto the big screen. From her girlish body-type, to her aggressive and reclusive attitude, she was the Lisbeth from my imagination. The original movie found a way to capture the dark and sexy tone of the book, weaving in and out of the tales intricate ebbs and flows without convoluting it. And even though the director changed some of the plot, it stylized the movie and gave it a cinematic voice. It wasn’t flawless, but it was great.
When I heard that American studios were planning on taking the Swedish version and redoing it, as they do with so many other foreign films, I nearly gagged. NO! Why reinvent the wheel? It doesn’t usually end well. Besides, the kick-ass girl, brutalized by everyone, who eventually finds retribution (in a very unconventional way) already exists so why find another to do what has already been done to perfection? Then I read that the director that signed onto the project was David Fincher and I slowly began to feast of my words. Fincher is the visual equivalent of Stieig Larson. His directorial style is dark, foreboding and sexy, stunning the audience with eerily rhythmic pacing. His tales are sinister and if this book is anything…it is sinister. So I waited with bated breath until I sat in a darkened theater about a year later and saw the trailer that changed it all.
Karen O’s soprano screams over Trent Reznor’s bass pounding rendition of Immigrant Song (Led Zepplin) while flashes of snow and death and Lisbeth and Michael and mansions assaulted my senses, giving me goose bumps. I knew then that this movie was going to thrill me, make me want to read the book again and forget that the Swedish version ever even existed. I can’t tell you how many times I watched that trailer over and over again anticipating the full length extravaganza that would undoubtedly follow.
The movie came out around Christmas and I was positive it was going to be a big hit…shows you what I know. Maybe everyone already had his or her fill of Dragon Tattoos, maybe it was too heavy and dark, but it wasn’t the runaway hit that I felt it would (should) be. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best movie of the year, or Finchers for that matter, but it was better than I had expected and it did the book justice. The movie was almost verbatim to the novel, while the pacing and acting were near phenomenal. It showed me that the changes made in the original film weren’t really necessary, the story should have been told as it was envisioned by the author and Fincher affirmed my faith in Daniel Craig’s unbelievable sexiness…holy hell!
In the end, I loved both movies, each creating completely different emotional ties to the same story. For those of you who haven’t checked them out, please do. I can’t promise you’ll love them as I did and be warned they are not for the faint of heart. They brutally and honestly depict some very disturbing scenes involving extremely sexual and sadistic acts of violence, but as you will see in the movie…no bad deed goes unpunished and Karma is a bitch name Lisbeth.
Watch the best teaser trailer ever…in my expert opinion.
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