The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Why Even Bother with an American Version?

After a long wait, Netflix finally delivered the Swedish version of the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo based on the famous book of the same name.  Watching it, the main thing I think is, “Why even bother remaking it?”

The movie is so complete that I honestly don’t know how Hollywood believes it can improve upon it. But then again, I’m not searching for the next big moneymaking franchise. Maybe it’s because it will be in English? Maybe it’s because of the actor Daniel Craig in the lead role? Maybe it’s because of the media hoopla surrounding the casting of the unknown Rooney Mara as the computer hacker Lisabeth Salander? All of these reasons I see as major obstacles.

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the Swedish film is a good and solid adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s story and makes up for where the novel lacks – characterization and setting. And the actor’s do a brilliant job bringing the story to life. The strong and smart character of Mikael (played by Michael Nyqvist) comes across as soft and lonely…vulnerable. This makes the audience care more and the investment in his story is increased. Something that I fear will be lost with the character’s portrayal by Daniel Craig, known for hard, emotionless roles (I mean he WAS James Bond).  The very strange and violent and introverted Lisabeth (played by the fantastic Noomi Rapace) – now here’s the biggest problem. This role is so incredibly well defined by the Swedish actress that I think anyone else’s portrayal will fail in comparison. I worry for the poor unknown. Let’s just hope Mara has the depth, the bravery, to transform herself as well as Rapace and then bring something to the role that hasn’t already been seen. No pressure.

There are other issues – the Swedish film uses the cold, landscape of the countryside as if it were another character in the book. If they film the American version in a different location it could rob the story of an important authentic element. Also, the dialogue in the Swedish version, although subtitled in English, adds an extra an unexpected touch. The rhythm of the language just adds to its authenticity, to its mystique, to what makes the story something special.

It’s a waiting game now to see what the American version director (David Fincher – Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) has in store for this movie. But at least the next Swedish installment – The Girl That Played with Fire – is available on DVD.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – On Board the Millenium Train

Funny things happen when the electricity goes out. A quiet takes over. Things that make a natural noise are louder. There’s no TV. No lights. The air seems so still that at first it’s a shock to figure out something to do. But after digging in a drawer to find my flashlight, I settled in the corner of my couch and cracked open Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I heard a lot about this book – from the untimely death of its author to the buzz now in Hollywood about the American film version (Daniel Craig has just been announced to play the male protagonist Mikael Blomkvist). But all the news didn’t do much to put this book on the top of my list. In fact, I waited a long time to finally dive into it. Honestly, I can blame the power outage for my motivation.

The book is interesting for sure. For the two people who read this blog that might not know already, it takes place in Sweden and there is a definite rhythm to the language. Larsson doesn’t spend a lot of time in descriptive narrative. The exposition is not obvious, which is difficult to achieve, but there is a large amount of info to keep straight, making it a bit cerebral. Also, there is very little characterization. It’s extremely hard to determine who to care for or if you should even bother.

This is not a happy book. It’s dark. Gloomy. There are some ugly twists and turns in the plot and the pacing. Reading it in the dark probably didn’t help.  But I’ve added the Swedish film version to my Netflix queue and am anxious to see the adaptation.