The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo vs The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) (2011)



I’d intended to read the book before seeing either film, but good intentions pave the road to hell, or so they say. I was at the cinema a few weeks ago and it was the only film on that I wanted to see that was starting at the right time, so I saw the remake.  I just recently watched the original Swedish film on DVD.

Firstly, I was very surprised by the ‘Hollywood’ remake. It didn’t feel very Hollywood, apart from having the main character played by Daniel Craig. It had a real darkness, and the actors often looked their age. And unattractive – or at least, not as totally attractive as you expect in Hollywood films. I was a bit annoyed about varying accents at first, but got so immersed in the story that I soon forgot this.

There were a lot of similarities between the two films, which seems a ridiculous thing to say given they were both based on the same book. Surprisingly, there were also a lot of differences – and here come the spoilers. I don’t recall the second film mentioning anything about Blomkvist being sent to jail, and the first film has Lisbeth being randomly attacked by a group of thuggish males, as opposed to having a single man grab her bag.

So, how to decide which is better? The group of thugs seems to me to build directly on Lisbeth’s anti-social behaviour and deep distrust of men. On the other hand, I much prefer the performance of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth to Noomi Rapace in the original. The rape scene in the remake was far too graphic for my liking – whilst I don’t mind having to shut my eyes for parts of movies that I can’t watch, the Swedish certainly got the event across without the trauma to the audience of the remake.

Again, how can I decide which is better? I have read reviews that prefer the original because it is more arthouse, and that hate the remake because of Daniel Craig. Certainly, Michael Nyqvist brings a lot more warmth to the character, especially when he is interacting with the people that he interviews during his investigation. Unlike so many remakes (the US The Vanishing remake of the Dutch film Spoorloos – don’t bother with the remake. Really don’t), this one seems close to the original without being a scene for scene copy. I really look forward to reading the book now to see which is closest to the book. Although to get totally pedantic, I am aware that it is a translation, and so I don’t know what has been gained or lost in the translation.

Do I have to make a decision? I don’t want to. How about I say… ah, dammit. I think I preferred the remake until I got to the last half hour or so. The remake just confused things – it was so much better when Blomqvist hadn’t figured it out when he gets to the killer’s house. That look of sudden realisation, the moment before panic-  ah, it was fabulous. The end of the original for me was way better. In the remake, Lisbeth asked if she could kill the baddie, but I liked it a lot more in the original when she didn’t. Not asking gave her a lot more power, I reckon. Asking made her submissive to him – and don’t get me started on the rubbish with the leather jacket.

I’ll read the book and then write Girl with a Dragon Tattoo cubed – just give me a few months…

2 thoughts on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo vs The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) (2011)

  1. I also saw the movie – the version with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig of course and I too thought the rape scene was too graphic, but on the whole thought the movie was not too bad. But I’m itching to read the book too when I can get hold of it and have the time because I’m sure it will be a book I won’t be able to put down till I’ve read the whole of it. I have a strong feeling the book will have so much more to it than the film – but that’s the case with a lot of books on which films are based I think. Anyway thanks for posting this Margaret and I really enjoyed reading your views.

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