The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
It is amazing how there have been people who have been really excited for this film, while others simply have not. Based on the popular book series by Stieg Larsson and the original Swedish version of the film, quite honestly this American version adaptation came out of nowhere. Perhaps movies that come out like that are the ones that can really motivate people to go to theaters and watch them. However, based on the fact that it is an American version of a Swedish book and film, that was its blessing and its downfall. For those that have not read the books, it may create a new group of fans, but it is the cons of being the American version that outweigh the pros.
For starters, films that are based on books already set themselves up for a lot of criticism. While it is impossible to feature every detail of the book in films due to time constraints, there is always the possibility to include the very detailed and best parts of the book. However, as many have noticed, this is a very difficult task to achieve because every director has his or vision of what they would like to present in the film. Perhaps the biggest challenge is finding the balance between being very committed to the book, and not being committed at all. Generally speaking, it is the films that are not committed to following the details of the book that often fail to get a large following. But speaking from a film perspective, that can also help films to make a voice for themselves. Even though a film may be based on a book, it is still its own narrative form; the film has its own story to tell because in many ways, it is not telling the same story as the book.
Whether you’re analyzing the actors and actresses that have been cast, the director, the plot and story, or any aspect of the film, it presents a story that may or not be like what you envisioned as you read the books that films are based on. Take for example one of the film’s main characters, Mikael Blomkvist, played by Daniel Craig. Whether you have read the books or not, the actor that was cast as Mikael in the Swedish version reflects an average joe type of person. A relatively unknown actor who embraced the character of Mikael with great ease. An actor who is not physically overwhelming, but plays the role of a determined journalist very well. Which leads to the casting of Craig, who has generally been cast to play very strong, physically imposing characters. The character of Mikael is a very drastic change in character compared to roles he is known to play given his recent roles in James Bond films, and his role in Cowboys and Aliens. Craig delivers a very convincing role as a journalist who is looking to redeem himself and solve the case he has been given to resolve.
Which brings us to the film’s protagonist: the girl with the dragon tattoo. A female character unlike any other that you may have seen before. While she is not a villain in any way, Lisbeth is a dark, mysterious, and powerful character. Played brilliantly by Rooney Mara, she presents this character with a dark and complicated history with great command that is equal to the performance of Noomi Rapace in the Swedish version. You cannot help but feel intrigued about her character because she is a character that you know very little about. What you know of her is what you can see of her; so it raises your interest in getting to know her history and more about her.
Now if you take away the performances of Craig and Mara, then what you are left with is a film that did not look to establish its own voice. In essence, you are looking at the Swedish version but in English. This is a rare exception where a film’s strong dedication to the book kept it from being successful. There is a sense of a pride that comes with the presentation of an American adaptation of a foreign film; and that pride lacks significantly when the American version does not speak for itself. When there are literally very few differences between this film and the Swedish version, it leaves much to be desired. David Fincher delivers a film that is dark, provocative, and psychologically thrilling like its Swedish predecessor, but it needed a stronger voice.