Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, American Version

By Laura P. Valtorta

Lisbeth Salander does not care what the world thinks of her, nor would she ever fix coffee or breakfast for anyone. She is the hero of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel, Man som hatar Kvinnor (Men who Hate Women). The American screenwriter, Steven Zaillian, fails to realize this, while the Swedish screenwriters of the 2009 film, Nikolia Arcie and Rasmussen Heisterberg, got it right on target.

Everyone should read all three books and see all three Swedish movies before they watch the American imitation.

The American film hands too much power to Michael, Lisbeth’s counterpoint. It was LIsbeth who solved the mystery of the bible verses in the book, not Michael. The American film turns that around.

The American director, David Fincher, also takes away one of Lisbeth’s key scenes. When Michael comes looking for Lisbeth, who has been hacking into his computer, he confronts her in her tiny, messy apartment sleeping with her longtime lover, Miriam. In the Swedish version (and in the book), Lisbeth stands there staring hard at the intruder. She does not care what Michael sees, and she allows him to drink spoiled coffee, which he spits out into the sink. The American story has Lisbeth ashamed of her lover and practically cowering, as Michael chases Miriam out. The Swedish Lisbeth would never allow that.

The real Lisbeth would never make breakfast for Michael, either, but strangely, that happens in the American film after they make love for the first time. In the Swedish film, Michael makes the breakfast and Lisbeth wolfs it down.

The worst indignity of this American imitation film is when Lisbeth asks permission to execute the murderer. In the book, Lisbeth allows him to die, but Michael chastises her for it afterwards.

Great acting saves the American film, despite the misogynistic screenplay and bad directing. Thanks to Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, this film is worth watching. Even Robin Wright is fun to hate. Lisbeth’s costumes are excellent as well.


Anonymous said...

Your comments about Hollywood's remake of the Dragon Tattoo demonstrates that Hollywood directors, as a rule, don't know how to deal with strong female protagonists.


Anonymous said...

Why oh why make a sequel. Oh well, I guess it's always the same story anyway, as Kal Bashir says.

Anonymous said...

i think that american version failed - it makes me wonder why they tried to remake it. they tried so hard to be better than the original one. it is why they made such a drama that salander makes breakfast which means that the movie is 'imitating' the swedish one.
there was no way for them to be better than the original one - script and acting as well - especially salander role. Rooney is pretty but too weak for this role. they had to choose someone with more charisma or maybe Noomi was too good.