Monday, February 6, 2012

Puncturing My Thought Balloon: David Fincher’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’


What I planned to be a book vs. film post about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo turned out to be an unintelligible mess of hyperfangirlism (it was an eyesore to the regular blog-hoppers, I tell you), so I had to go over it again and omit the unnecessary keysmashery of love. :p I’m no film critic, but here’s what I thought of David Fincher’s take on the first installment of the Millenium Trilogy:

❏ The opening sequence. First things first! Fincher wowed me with the opening credits. I’ve seen it a couple of nights ago via Facebook, but it didn’t diminish my awe upon seeing it on the big screen. I heard it was supposed to be Lisbeth’s dream, and what else could be the best way to know more about a mystery-on-two-legs but to tap into her subconscious? It’s amazing. There are a keyboard and some wires, a lit matchstick, and  shape-shifting gasoline flowing from the remains of a wrecked car(?).


I simply love the way the gasoline  coagulates into different shapes that depict opposing ideas. There’s  a kissing couple pulling away from each other like some jellified Siamese twins, and there’s also a masculine hand throwing hard blows at the face of a woman until it shatters into smaller drops. There’s a flower blossoming delicately while a  cluster of cruel hands covers the face of a screaming girl (which to me looked like the petals of a monstrous flower closing around an unlucky prey).

Passion and rage, innocence and corruption…seriously, everything about this is violently beautiful. I think it effectively communicates not only the personality of the title character but also the nature of the movie itself. Initially I thought it has more to do with The Girl Who Played With Fire, with Lisbeth wanting to drench her male captor with gasoline and set him aflame, but I figured it’s connected to the way Martin Vanger died in the movie. *hints*

You can watch the sequence here.

❏ Rooney Mara. In my honest opinion, Rooney nailed Lisbeth Salander’s character to perfection.  She effectively encased herself in the same hard shell as Lisbeth and still let out all the things that define the character—the spunk, the iron will, the rage she couldn’t keep at bay, her intense albeit off-kilter way of achieving justice, and that little shade of fragility that still makes her the human we know from the pages of the first Millennium book. After seeing Fincher’s adaptation, the name Rooney became synonymous with Lisbeth in my mental thesaurus. I haven’t seen the original Swedish version yet (I will!), but I guess it’s hard to ‘dethrone’ Rooney for me now.


❏ The Irony. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie for the most part. But based on most of the audience’s reactions, I think it wasn’t that successful in relaying what Larsson is really trying to say. Did they even try to convey it in the first place? The book (which is originally and aptly entitled “Men Who Hate Women”) is meant to call for action against rape, trafficking, and any kind of abuse perpetrated by male suspects. Lisbeth is supposed to be the embodiment of this action, and I guess only those who’ve mulled over what the book is all about will realize this. I was too excited to realize right off the bat that the film subverted the very essence of it. Did it objectify Lisbeth? Again, based on the comments that treat the girl as if she’s some kind of a sex symbol, I think it did. I'll appreciate you leaving your two cents.

❏ “I am a Rapist Pig.” The scenes with Nils Bjurman are as harrowing as the ones in the book, but I have to admit that Rooney’s screams and her showcase of apathetic brutality made the scenes all the more disturbing. Hell hath no fury like a Lisbeth Salander scorned! And oh, heed it girls—Taser guns are the new pepper sprays. :p

❏ The Hunt. No rants about the tag-team: Lisbeth and Blomkvist’s search for the woman-killer was translated well on screen, from the Leviticus connection to the old photographs of the Children’s Parade. I know you don’t want to read any of my feminist blatherings anymore, but  they could have zeroed in on the gender-based crimes more. Just saying.


❏ Stieg Blomkvist! I’m very sorry, but Blomkvist still felt like a Gary Stu to me, both in the book and in the movie. I look up to Larsson and I love Craig, but it’s hard to ignore that Blomkvist is the author’s own glorified fictional alter ego—a thinly veiled one at that.
❏❏ Why, Don Juan? Why am I asking this? I already know Blomkvist is a self-insert. He doesn’t interest me whatsoever, and I loathe how he so effortlessly draw girls to bed. Come the eff on. Even Lisbeth? :(
❏❏❏ Why, Don Juan (part II)? Blomkvist is the Millennium trilogy’s Achilles’ Heel. I just have to say that in a different line.
❏ The ‘Parents’. I’m aware of the limits of a two-and-a-half-hour movie versus a 700-page book, but I wish they didn’t completely leave out the subplot about Lisbeth Salander’s mother. I thought it would be much better if they included bits of it, at least for the sake of a glimpse of her private life. But then again maybe that’s what they’re aiming for her character—enigmatic ‘til the end.  I hope they make up for it in the next film installments.


Anyhoo, I kind of wish the same thing about Milton Security CEO Dragan Armansky. I know he’s just a minor character, but he’s one of the few men that actually cares for Lisbeth in the book…at least after he snaps out of his inexplicable attraction to her and begins to stand as her surrogate father of some kind. Meanwhile, the scenes Lisbeth had with Palmgren show a little of her softer side. I especially loved the chess scene near the end. :’)

❏ Mimmi Wu. I just felt like mentioning her, okay? She’s Lisbeth’s lesbian friend and occasional lover. :p I thought they’d leave her out because Larsson just mentioned her in passing (in the first book).

❏ Babysitting Blomkvist. Maybe it was mentioned in the movie and I just missed it? I liked how in the book, Blomkvist has already met Harriet and Anita when he’s still a toddler. Aside from backing up the supposed closeness of the two girls, mentioning this will also bring Blomkvist father’s into the picture, which will make Henrik’s choice about hiring Blomkvist more believable. Yeah, yeah, you can’t cram everything in the movie. But dang, a line or two about it would suffice.

❏ Enya. THIS. The non-stop earworm after I heard it! Haha. Remember the scene where Martin Vanger traps Blomkvist in his torture chamber? It had me cracking up like crazy. I know it’s inappropriate, but the moment I heard “Orinoco Flow,” I lost it. The track being chosen as a ‘murderous’ tune is said to be Daniel Craig’s fault. :)

❏ "To Sally, Who Taught me the Benefits of Golf." I have to include this, because the movie didn’t. It was written on the dedication page of Blomkvist’s “revenge” report for Wennerström, referring to Lisbeth saving him from Martin in the latter’s murder den.

❏ The Anita-Harriet Twist.  Practically still the same the ending, but Fincher twisted it up in a manner that will be able to surprise even the ones who’ve read books. It’s very  well-played, though if you ask me the book’s original ending is still better.

❏ The Investment. Need I say more? I enjoyed every minute of it. I haven’t read the last two books yet, so I still don’t know if they’d ever find out it’s Lisbeth who emptied Wennerström’s bank accounts. :p



All in all it’s still a very good movie, and it made me want to read The Girl Who Played with Fire right after I watched it. :) Still, I think I need to see the original Swedish version.


  1. I know there's an article entitled "The Pornification of Lisbeth Salander" out there, which is a jab to the American version of the film. It pretty much coincides with your thoughts under "The Irony."

    I still have to see the movie, but I'm not getting my hopes up high. Disappointment just pops up when I'm expecting too much. Hehe.

    1. Really? I have to read that one!

      Now that I think about it, the very essence of the book is quite undermined when it is introduced in the English language. Also, 'Men Who Hate Women' is a simpler and more appropriate title, imho.

      It's still a good movie! Tell me what you think about it after you watch it. ;)

    2. Alas, I haven't been able to watch it. But I got a decent torrent, and the download will finish anytime soon. :D I will tell you what I think. Perhaps I'm going to post a Tumblr entry about it.

      Anyway, here's the article:

      It's quite old and actually focuses on the early American poster.

  2. OMG. Reading this makes me want to read the book. I actually bought the book right after watching the movie, because I'm left wondering, plus I can't fully understand what their saying! LOL.

    1. Hey, Aika! :)
      Do read the book! It's slow at first, and the members of Vanger family are hard to remember, but halfway through you'll feel the thrill brought about by the "hunt." :)

  3. The Swedish edition is just great. Actually so great I nearly threw up doing the rape of Lisbeth. Such a disturbing and intense scene! So read.

    1. Anne! :)
      You're not the first one to say that. Yes, I'll definitely watch it.

  4. Nice to see your insights about this movie! I'm still wary of this because of the way they blunted the feminism side of the book, but I think they did a pretty good job in making it entertaining.

    1. You're not the only one! This is one of the reasons why most people prefer the Swedish version. But it's great, really. You should watch it. :)

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