The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – at the Academy Awards

By Izzy Woods

The Academy Awards posted their final list of potential winners for the 84th award show due on February 26th. Known as the Oscars to the rest of the world, the biggest surprise is the movies that are missing from the nominations list, particularly The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for Best Picture.

Even if you’ve spent the past three years on a Mediterranean cruise you will have heard of the Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, the author who wrote three books in a trilogy called the Millennium Series. The first of those crime fiction novels, called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, hit the shelves in 2005. It was turned into a movie, in Swedish, in 2009 and Hollywood issued its own version late in 2011, with the other two books in the set finding their way to Hollywood in 2012 and 2013.

There is a good chance that you will have read at least one, if not all three of the books in either hardback, paperback or via a recent eBook purchase. You will be one of 65 million people who have digested the series.

Daniel Craig is not James Bond

In the 2011 release, the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, plays the magazine journalist Mikael Blomqvist. He’s better in this role than in his recent Bond appearances where James Bond as we knew him has changed out of all recognition. In Craig here, we recognize Blomqvist.

Rooney Mara plays the movie’s heroine, Lisbeth Salander. She’s a computer hacker, completely anti social and driven by her own vindictiveness. Rooney plays the part well, but not as brilliantly as Noomi Rapace, introduced to us in the Swedish movie. The new Lisbeth is not as cold as you would have imagined from the book so she takes some getting used to.

The Swedish version has more naked flesh and considerably more brutality. Perhaps the director of this latest account decided that as you had no doubt read the book before seeing the movie, you didn’t need visual proof of the violence already in your mind.

Where the movie doesn’t match the book

For those – most of you – who have read the book, there are a number of difficult transitions from paperback to screen. You have to consider that the book is over 500 pages in length. This was then translated down to just over 2 ½ hours screen time. Screenplay writers suggest that one page of a script equals one minute on screen, so in effect 350 pages of the book were cut out or disregarded.

As an example, but without giving spoilers to those who haven’t seen this latest movie version yet, the lady in London and the lady in Australia in the book have been molded into one person for the movie. This will cause problems in the next two books as the lady moves on to play a prominent role.

The author, Stieg Larsson, suggested that he thought Lisbeth Salander’s character was an adult version of the Swedish classic, Pippi Longstocking, written by Astrid Lindgren. With the amount of sheer terror, violence and depravity shown in this movie, you would have to hope your children don’t see this until they are well into their twenties as faded memories of Pippi may bring on a visit to your psychoanalyst.

The movie did gain some nominations

So the people in the know have been given a number of nominations for the awards, but completely missed the movie as best picture. Perhaps the camerawork, editing and sound were enough to give us a first class glimpse of Sweden, but not enough of the story.

Rooney Mara received a nomination for the lead actress award. Jeff Cronenweth has been listed for his camerawork while Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall are listed for film editing. Ren Klyce has been chosen for sound editing and colleagues David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson for sound mixing.

It is an individual choice of whether you prefer the book, the first movie, or the second movie. Whichever, there is no doubt that director David Fincher has brought the book to the big screen in a very good film, only spoiled if you have already seen the Swedish version.


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