Friday, June 29, 2012


"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is part of the "Millennium trilogy" of crime novels written by Swedish journalist/writer Steig Larsson who died in 2004. It was adapted into 2 films. The Swedish movie was released in 2009 while Hollywood released its remake last year.

I watched both films, first the Hollywood version followed immediately by the original. I was tuned to a very dark thriller that focused on murders, corporate greed, corruption and brutal acts of bestiality for almost 5 hours. Phew.

So this review will be a comparison of the two films with basically the same main characters in the persons of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander a researcher who has had a difficult life. Together they must solve the mystery behind the disappearance of Harriet Vanger, 40 years ago. She is the niece of Henrik Vanger, a wealthy industrialist who has been haunted by her disappearance from their huge estate in Hedestad, a mountainous town in northern Sweden.

The Hollywood version had a very bleak cinematography with a heavily snowed environment providing the backdrop and it seems like most of the angles were shot during the night time. While in the Swedish film, the cinematography was a bit brighter but not sunshiny bright. There were still a lot of shots with snow in it but no dark overtones.

David Fincher presented the film with flashbacks using much younger actors to portray the Vanger family in the 1960s. He chose to add more footage on the part where Lisbeth goes on her clandestine mission to expose Wennerstrom's shady deals. The film was well edited with an edgy soundtrack filled with intensely loud music to highlight dramatic moments. It had a more gripping tone but the last 30 minutes felt like it had to quicken the pace to wrap up all the loose ends.

The original plot used black and white scenes for its flashbacks. I also gathered additional details about the characters which weren’t mentioned in the Hollywood version. The main film was focused more on the duo gathering more information about the gruesome murders which had a vital link to the disappearance of Harriet Vanger. The slow pace of the film made some scenes a bit dragging and the abrupt editing didn’t help either.

Both Daniel Craig and Michael Nyqvist were believable as Blomkvist, the disgraced and disgruntled journalist who is vindicated in the end. It was pretty obvious that Daniel Craig was not comfortable taping in the below zero degrees temperatures. There were times I swear I could see him shivering from the cold. But in my opinion, Daniel Craig’s Blomkvist had more depth and his characterization was more current.

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth looked a lot older than 24. Her Lisbeth was more ‘charming’ even though she has a dark personality lurking behind the fa├žade. She was less menacing but nevertheless quite tough and street smart. Rooney Mara as Lisbeth was a brooding, mysterious hacker who lacked social skills but tough as nails when the situation called for it. Her piercing and icy glance can cut through paper but once she warmed up to a person she can be quite ‘nice’ for lack of a better word.

To conclude, I believe the Hollywood remake had a more gripping way of presenting the dark plot. It was more edgy and current. But the original version wasn’t bad either as it provided more behind the scenes details about the plot and the characters. I admit I’ve never read the novels but watching both films (one after the one= 5 long hours) was quite a thrill!

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