Why you should not watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

There is advertising for this film everywhere, so I couldn’t ignore this issue anymore. Not that I would have been silent on this otherwise, but now I want to convince people even more not to see this film in order to counter the marketing offensive. The film I’m talking about is the English version from 2011 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; there also is a Swedish version made in 2009.

On the one hand, remakes can be worthwhile. For example, I like both Infernal Affairs and The Departed. I think The Departed contributed something substantial over the original from Hong Kong. Also, more unfortunately a remake seemed to be justified because Infernal Affairs was barely known in the West. On the other hand, while I must admit that I have not seen the English version of 2011, let me point at the scores at Metacritic. The Swedish original scores 76 and the English remake scores 71. And that’s with a $13 million budget for the former and a $90 million budget for the latter. The Swedish original was not obscure, in fact it was broadcast by a Dutch public broadcaster a few weeks ago. There is merely a gap of two years between the release of the two films. So when the quality, age or availability of the Swedish original is taken into account, there is no reason to see the remake. This is yet another effort of Hollywood to steal foreign films so they can make easy cash off fools who can’t be bothered to read the English subtitles when they see the Swedish original.

So, unless a remake makes a significant contribution in comparison to the original, let’s refuse to reward the filmmakers for remakes like this. Vote with your wallet so Hollywood learns to be more creative instead of promoting the production of shameless copies. The English remake is on the same level as counterfeit clothes.

2 thoughts on “Why you should not watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

  1. Quality of a film will always win out over smoke and mirror issues the writer here brings up. First, the 2011 Girl with a Dragon Tattoo is NOT a remake. In a press release dated February, 2009, an executive for Yellow Bird, Soren Starmose, stated that they were negotiations for a Hollywood adaptation of the bestseller. To say that Hollywood was looking to remake a film that hadn’t been released or hadn’t yet found an international distributor makes no sense. Hollywood was going to make an adaptation (not a remake)regardless of whether the films were ever made. It is worth noting that Yellow Bird originally produced the films for television and were pressured to release them in theaters. Hollywood can’t be the only for-profit-bad-guy as Swedish film industry was also milking their mini-series quality adaptations of Larsson’s work. These films are Swedish but they’re not Bergman.
    In the end, regardless of timing, quality wins out. There are so many ways Hollywood could have cheapened the adaptation but Sony hired a talented screenwriter, put the project in the hands of a visionary director, gave him a budget and final cut. They fully developed one film in the time it took Yellow Bird to crank out three television quality movies. To write off a film under false assumption that it was a cheap Hollywood remake is as shallow as not seeing a film because of subtitles.

    The added dimension I think Fincher brings to this story has to be pointed out especially the psychology of his frame.

    For example: The office rape sequence contains an unusual high angle shot where a character appears upside down vertically. Fincher had a choice to plant the camera anywhere in that room — behind either of the characters, on the side, in the corner, etc. The choice brings a deeper psychology to the character in the event creating the effect that they are lying down and the act is happening willingly from a perspective of the perpetrator.

    Another high angle shot soon follows with first reveal of the dragon tattoo: one of the characters own self scars perpetrated on herself. This shot that happens only one other time in the film but within the same visual passage and forms a visual melody. On second viewing, the film is full of them.

    Kubrick once said, “How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: ‘The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.” Nothing is written on the bottom of the film or forced but it’s there for rediscovery. In that way, over the shoulder the close ups of the semi circular hook of an earring, to bloody water down the drain to an expensive earring tumbling of one down the drain in the film’s final act bring a poetry that only moving pictures have.

  2. Thank you very much for your comment. I agree that I was wrong, I was primarily motivated to write this after reading [1] about Oplev’s (the director of the Swedish version) displeasure with the American version. Maybe because I sympathize with him as he is agonized to see that the American version rakes in more revenue than his version, even though he was first with a better adaptation (according to Metacritic).

    Thank you for taking the time to write this interesting opinion to the contrary. As I already mentioned in my post I didn’t watch the film before writing this because I wanted to get it off my chest, but it wasn’t fair of me to judge it without watching it.

    [1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/nov/09/girl-dragon-tattoo-american-remake

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