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A Brief Movie Note


I’m ambivalent about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But you have to admit that it was inspired for Fincher to make the first villain a dead ringer for Mark Steyn and the second one an Enya fan.

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  • Barbara

    I thought the Enya fan was doing a Bill Pullman impression there for a bit.

    Did you see the original Swedish movie? I like that one better I think. Lisbeth seemed to be stronger, I think. And Blomkvist also seemed weaker.

    The cinematographer was the best thing about the movie, IMO.

  • Ronnie P

    I haven’t seen the new one, but thought the Swedish original stunk. Typical problems with compressing a long-ish novel into a film. The characters were fine, though.

    • pete

      I disagree. I thought the [Swedish] movie improved the book by lopping off extraneous subplots, thus not only solving the inherent novel-to-movie length problem but sharpening the whole thing. I haven’t seen the new one yet, but intend to, even though I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it’s as good.

  • DivGuy

    Dragon Tattoo is a terrible book, a dreary slog through the ugly subconscious of a man who apparently thought he was writing a taut political thriller. I’ve found Fincher almost always interesting, and always a master of style, even when that style is in the service of a story I hate. So I’ll see it, even if just to be conflicted about it. I’m glad to hear it’s conflicting.

    • c u n d gulag

      You didn’t’ like it?
      I thought I wouldn’t like it either, but I was pleasantly surprised and ended up really liking it.

      I’ve finished reading the trilogy, and I must say that based on his writing, and some other Swedish crime writers I’ve read, I find the Swedish author’s characters a bit more realistic than some of the American writers. At least they’re not all some sort of supermen.

      I’m tired of American crime novel writers coming up with more and more bizarre plot twists and turns, character obfuscation, and people getting out of absolutely impossible situations.
      And I’ve got to admit, the escape at the end was pure American corn.

      I doubt I’ll ever watch the movie. The book is almost always better – with the notable exceptions of “Gone With the Wind” and “The Godfather.” I’m sure there are others, but I can’t think of them offhand.

      • Hogan

        To Have and Have Not, Birth of a Nation. Some day I should read Who Goes There, the John Campbell story the first page of which was the basis for The Thing.

        • c u n d gulag

          There’s a know-it-all in every crowd! :-)

          Seriously, though, thanks.

          I would add the 1930’s Tarzan movies.

          But only because I’m really, REALLY partial to Maureen O’Sullivan in a short-short outfit that somehow or other ‘skirted’ the Hays Code.

          She still drives me ape!

          • Hogan

            I think the first one with Maureen O’Sullivan was pre-Hays. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she caused it, although there’s a good case for Fay Wray too.

            • Bill Murray

              technically the code was adopted in 1930, but wasn’t effectively enforced until 1934 and the first Tarzan was in 1932

          • Bill Murray

            you big gorilla

        • NBarnes

          You best not be telling me that you didn’t like The Thing. ’cause we’d have to be having words, then, you and I.

          Who Goes There? is also fantastic, of course. And The Things, for which Peter Watts won a well deserved Hugo.

          • Hogan

            Oh no, I like the Howard Hawks The Thing very much. The John Carpenter, uh, less so.

            • NBarnes

              If I’d meant The Thing From Another World, I would have said so*.


              * – Not that there’s anything wrong with The Thing From Another World, but it’s not a piece with Who Goes There?, The Thing, or The Things, which are of a kind.

              • Hogan


                Huh. I don’t remember mentioning my middle name.

      • DivGuy

        I thought the prose was at best workmanlike and the plotting was shaky.

        More importantly, the constant and fulsome depictions of rape and assault were ugly and unnecessary. It’s not feminism to abuse every female character in your novel, and it’s entirely creepy to both traumatize all your female characters and have every attractive female character fall in love with and present their heaving breasts to the barely-veiled author equivalent.

        I wasn’t enjoying the prose or the plot nearly enough to gloss over the profound creepiness of the whole enterprise.

        Tiger Beatdown says it better than I could.

        • c u n d gulag

          Thanks for the Tiger Beatdown – LOL!

          Sadly, and maybe it’s me, but I didn’t find that any more offensive than what I’ve read in American crime novels in recent years. Maybe I’ve become kind of inured to the misogyny and violence. Even from some women writers!

          And this I’ll definitely give you – usually the worse the writer is, the more violent and misogynistic their books are.

          It’s almost like they took every bad aspect of a Mickey Spillane novel and decided to multiply it a thousand-fold.

        • Bill Murray

          it’s entirely creepy to … have every attractive female character fall in love with and present their heaving breasts to the barely-veiled author equivalent.

          crap, now I’m going to have to redo “I’m so not creepy” my magnum opus

        • Anderson

          and have every attractive female character fall in love with and present their heaving breasts to the barely-veiled author equivalent

          Saying that Salander “fell in love” with Blomkvist is, uh, weird.

        • Scott Lemieux

          More importantly, the constant and fulsome depictions of rape and assault were ugly and unnecessary.

          I’ll have more about this in the fuller post, but on this very limited point I don’t agree with Doyle’s reading. The violence that Salander inflicts is actually described in substantially more detail than the assaults against women, and I don’t think that there was anything gratuitous about the descriptions. This is one area where the movies are worse.

          On the awfulness of the prose and the clunkiness of the plotting, of course, you’re right.

      • LeeEsq

        The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a pretty fun book, its basically a thriller for people with leftist political leanings. The two villains of the first book of the trilogy are pretty inspiring in their terror. The only problem was that I found Lisbeth’s sex life to be unbelievable for somebody who suffered from her psychological problems.

      • Also, The Shining, Dr. Strangelove, The Agony and the Ecstacy, Fight Club, and The Sweet Hereafter.

        • SeanH

          The Silence of the Lambs.

  • Spud

    Speaking of Swedish to American versions, I highly recommend both versions of “Let the Right One In” (“Let Me In”), with a slight preference for the original.

    The book was pretty blah, but both filmmakers knew what stuff was well worth jettisoning.

    • DivGuy

      I haven’t seen the American version, but I loved the Swedish version.

      What was brilliant was the way they aped, pitch-perfect, the style and tone of those weird 1970s Swedish coming-of-age dramas, but the structure of the plot is actually that of a horror film. Great little genre play.

      • Pith Helmet

        i saw the swedish version on netflix. didn’t even know there was an american version. now i’ll have to go find it.

    • Marek

      Just beware not to get a truncated version. I saw it in the theater, loved it, and then bought a DVD which left out some scenes. Made a big difference, not for the better.

  • efgoldman

    I just finished the second book (read the first one last year).
    They are overwritten, for sure, but they kept me going just the same.

  • Anderson

    I read the trilogy – 2d book best IMHO. Problem w/ the 3d book was that you saw the big denouement coming: Larsson should’ve sprung it on us and then given a “here’s how it happened” chapter.

    The movie was a good occasion for me to come home and explain to my 16YO that just because he can *legally* see an R-rated film next year, that doesn’t mean he *may* do so. I’m not quite sure how that got an R rating.

    … Re: Salander’s sex life, I don’t know if she really *has* “mental problems.” She hardly trusts anyone, but that seems reasonable given her past. Sex for her seems mostly physical. Maybe “having mental problems” means “acting like a guy.”

  • dave

    I’d love to know what the moral is that we should draw from the fact that a trilogy so deeply layered with the author’s evident twin desires to be a perfect crusading lefty-feminist hero and bang hot women became a runaway international publishing success.

  • Ed

    Prose can lose a lot in translation, not as much as poetry but still a lot.

    The general rule of thumb is that the better the book, the more likely it is that a translation to another medium will be inferior to one degree or another, because the better the novel the more closely style, content, and form are interwoven. Genre books like crime novels are likely to do well, since to some extent they’re movie material to begin with and they tend not to be terribly original. Haven’t read the Dragon Tattoo books so can’t comment on those.

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