Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011

I’m not a great admirer of David Fincher’s recent work. Zodiac (2007) was completely devoid of any real tension, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) was tiresomely long and tedious and although I would agree that it was cleverly written The Social Network (2010) was interesting without being dynamic. There’s always a tendency toward flashy technique in Fincher’s output. His latest attempt at directorial immortality, the reworking of the brilliant Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), is no exception; a glitzy out of place opening credit sequence and flamboyant soundtrack does not make up for the films obvious failings. 

This unnecessary reworking of the first part of Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) was the subject of this week’s RBC Film Club evening. Our very own Filmmaker Alec Barclay gave a fine introduction to the evening and took a rather fiery discussion that followed the viewing.  Alec explained that this version of the film, was still set in Sweden but with it’s large Hollywood style budget could afford some well known actors and actresses although the relatively unknown Rooney Mara takes over the role of Lisbeth Salander previously played by Noomi Rapace with Daniel Craig taking time off from his day job as the British spy James Bond to play Larsson’s alter ego, the investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Alec went on to talk about the soundtrack, which resurrects Led Zeppelins Immigrant Song this time sung by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and was created by the same team who won an Academy Award for the music for The Social Network, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Atticus Ross son of Radio Caroline founder Ian Ross.

The original Lisbeth Salander.

Fincher's Lisbeth Salander

This is the first part of Larsson’s Trilogy, for which to date 65 million books have been sold, it depicts the relationship between the middle-aged left wing investigative journalist and the young bi-sexual ward of the state, researcher and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. The pair join forces to investigate the disappearance, some 40 years previous, of the great niece of Hendric Vanger, (Christopher Plummer) the 82 year-old former Chief Executive Officer of a group of companies owned by a very wealthy Swedish dynasty.

Hendric Vanger and Mikael Blomkist.

I personally have two main problems with Fincher’s USA remake. Lisbeth Salander is an iconic character, one I will always associate with Noomi Repace’s inspired performance. There’s an authenticity in the way she, and Michael Nyqvist who plays Blomkvist in the original film, portrays the main characters. In my opinion Fincher goes to far in softening Lisbeth’s image, which does not convey her deep hatred for men. In the original she only had sex with Blomkvist to satisfy her carnal desires whereas in the remake she seems to fall in love with the journalist also at the climax of the film she asked Blomkvist permission to kill the ‘villain’ the real anti authoritarian punk would not seek permission! My second gripe is that the strength of original film, directed by Neils Arden Oplev, is in the way it transposed Larsson’s written word onto the screen. In this inferior interpretation Steven Zaillian takes unnecessary liberties with the novels narrative including changing the ending along with the important fact that Blomkvist’s mysterious list of telephone numbers was solved by someone other than Lisbeth and while we are on the subject what happened to Blomkvist’s prison sentence?

Finally I will ask again the question’s that was raised many times during Monday nights discussion: why did the Americans remake a brilliant Swedish thriller, other than the fact that they can’t read and secondly why on earth did half the cast speak with dodgy Swedish accents (the exception being Sellan Skarsgard who is Swedish) and the other half did not? Perhaps Mr Fincher would have been better to have set the story in America, he made so many unnecessary changes one more would have not made a lot of difference.

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