Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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As an addendum to my post on Rooney Mara and her upcoming role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, my wife and I happened to be surfing Netflix and we came across the Swedish version of the movie that came out in 2009. I don't know what rock I've been living under, but I didn't realize there was a Swedish version of the movie. I'd heard of the book, but I'd only become interested when I saw that David Fincher was directing (what I now realize is) the American remake.

This was a dark, dark movie. It had a lot of Se7en overtones to it, largely because of the Biblical references to the various murders and the gritty and understated style of the protagonists. The pacing was slower than Hollywood movies, but I liked that about it. I get a bit tired of feeling like a movie has been placed under the pacing of a metronome, and it was nice to come to the movie, as opposed to the movie being thrust upon me, if you get my meaning.

The actress who played Lisbeth Salander, Noomi Rapace, did a great job with her role. It's tough to play someone who's disturbed. Too often it comes across as batshit crazy or forced. Not so with Rapace's Lisbeth. She was tetched, you could tell that easily, but you could also tell that she held it together through sheer force of will. Not that the crazy didn't come out now and again—it certainly needed to—but it was understated (as compared to Hollywood standards) and it was human. It was both believable and cruel, and I commend both actress and director for pulling this off.

The other standout was the other lead role, Mikael Blomkvist, played by Michael Nyqvist. He played a savvy reporter that ended up getting caught in a set-up to discredit his name. Having lost his ability to effectively do his job as a investigative journalist, he was hired by a member of a powerful Swedish family to solve a murder that happened four decades earlier. Nyqvist did a wonderful job as well, playing a man who was somewhat out of his element in the small Swedish town where the murder took place, while also drawing upon all the skills he'd developed over the course of his career.

The movie is violent. It deals a lot with psycho-sexual issues with many characters and from many different angles. That was the most difficult part of the movie to deal with. Because this movie connected with me on a lower level than most films, there were times where I had to disconnect and remind myself that it was a movie. But if you can handle it, this is a movie well worth watching. I really enjoyed the way the past played against the future. I liked that they were dealing with both modern technology–computers, the internet, and hacking–while simultaneously dealing with ancient photos and archaic police and government bureaucracies.

Also, just on a simple personal note, I'm 1/2 Swedish, and I've been there twice. It was nice to pick up again on the cadence of the language and the geography of Sweden.

When I get the time, I'll be watching the others in this series, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.


  1. Livia Llewellyn

    February 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Just an FYI – the Swedish movies were actually originally a TV miniseries that was recut (i.e. cut down) and repackaged as movies for foreign distribution. So, if the pacing seems a bit cinematically off, especially in the last two movies, it's because they weren't originally intended to be seen in two-hour chunks.

  2. Brad

    February 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    That makes a lot of sense. They did a decent job of cutting, but one of the things I noticed was that the dramatic presentation was, as you say, off. There were a lot of "endings" to the movie, which gave it more of a novel's pacing than a typical movie. It reminded me a bit of Chinese cinema, which has much the same feel — things going on for (much?) longer than we're used to in the U.S.

    But wow, a TV series? It was awfully intense for TV. Was it Swedish cable or the equivalent of the BBC?

  3. Terry

    February 4, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Having seen the first two films and planning to see the third,  i am not planning to see the American versions.  i see no good reason for them and I loathe Hollywood for doing this kind of thing.  The trilogy (books) lead me to find the Henning Mankell series, too, which i love.
    i love experiencing a different mindset to pacing, acting and everything. i'm pretty sick of Hollywood. 

  4. Livia Llewellyn

    February 4, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    It was Swedish cable, not the BBC – and the full, uncut versions are now available on DVD, if it's something you'd be interested in (beyond watching on Netflix, that is).
    Also: David Fincher currently only has plans to remake "Dragon Tattoo", and not the other two. I think if the others are remade by American studios, it will depend solely on the financial success of the first one, and even then, Mara and Craig may not reprise their roles, which would be…weird.