The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Written by Stieg Larsson
I am a huge fan of the Millennium Trilogy. While I would recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to virtually anyone, I would suggest it mostly to dedicated readers and for two reasons. First, while Dragon Tattoo is a suspenseful read, anyone who has finished it will tell you the first 50-75 pages of the novel are tough. Stieg Larsson uses a large portion of the novel to introduce characters, plotlines, and an overload of information, which makes the beginning of Dragon Tattoo very boring and hard to get through. So, before you read this book, you must be dedicated to making it past the all the loose ends and on to the juicy details. Second, once you read Dragon Tattoo, the succeeding novels The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest are soon to follow. Essentially, you aren’t just reading one book…you’re reading three.
Now, onto the important stuff. Stieg Larsson is something of a genius in the way Dragon Tattoo is crafted. His two main characters are total opposites in general terms but, once unified, complement each other perfectly. Mikhail Blomkvist, being somewhat of a ladies man and plain in both the physical and emotional sense. He has intimate relationships with several women throughout the course of the novel and seems like the average man Lisbeth Salander would despise. Salander is clearly the star of the Millennium Trilogy. Her asocial behavior, dark fashion sense and rough around the edges attitude doesn’t make her particularly relatable, but she demands respect and is shown in many different lights. Particularly, Larsson’s choice to show Salander at points of vulnerability make her seem more like a genuine person, rather than an ultra-feminist heroine type that no normal person could actually be.
Characters aside, the plotline of Dragon Tattoo was the definition of a crime mystery. As someone who often senses the twists and surprising turns in the movie, with this novel’s plot I was utterly lost—and I enjoyed it. It makes the book very difficult to put down. I did find the ending to be slightly dragged-out. Once the Vanger mystery is solved I did not need the excess filler information that Larsson is very fond of, there are at least 100 pages of continuous plot once the mystery is solved and, while it was interesting and definitely added to the novel, it did not seem essential. Those were the major qualms I had with Dragon Tattoo—unnecessary tidbits of information that were hard for me, as a reader, to digest.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Directed by David Fincher
I thoroughly enjoyed Fincher’s translation of the novel as it stayed very true to the majority of text and kept you on the edge of your seat. I found Rooney Mara’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander to be quite fantastic and spot-on; she was clearly the frontrunner of the films actors. Daniel Craig was just okay as Mikhail Blomkvist. His accent wait heinous, but his acting was average and he fulfilled the role as it needed to be.
There were a few theatrical choices that I did not understand. To start, the opening credits were so incredibly bizarre and disconnected from the rest of the film I found it did not make any sense, whatsoever. Basically, it was a compilation of computer-generated images related to all things Salander, covered in slick black oil and set to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” performed by Karen O and Trent Reznor. I can see the purpose in highlighting Salander’s role—after all, she is the girl with the dragon tattoo—but this dark, rock n’ roll opening sequence just did not fit in with the rest of the movie.
In general, the movie did not go as in-depth with some of the stories plotlines, which is acceptable. The film accomplishes in a few minutes what the novel could not. The Blomkvist/Wennerstrom libel case comes across thoroughly and understandably. I was upset that Fincher decided to nix Blomkvist’s jail stint. I know that films have time constraints, and at 2 hours and 30 minutes of screen time I am aware that Fincher had precious little of it. However, I felt the severity of Blomkvist going to jail and the seriousness of the issue was overlooked.
Of course, the biggest change from book-to-movie was the ending. In my personal opinion, I felt the “real” ending would have dragged the movie out way too much. These are the sacrifices mooks must make! All in all, I felt Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was very successful and a breath of fresh air. With a complex novel such as Larsson’s it is easy to seriously screw up the film translation of it, but Fincher did a really phenomenal job and I look forward to the succeeding movies.
Mook Rating – ★ ★ ★ ★