The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Luckily for me, I didn’t read the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson until it was all out. It was lucky because once I did start I devoured them all. Sure, they could use some tightening up but I found the character of Lisbeth Salander to be so fascinating and wonderful that I had to know what happened next and what she was going to do about it. Terrible things happen to Lisbeth but she is not a helpless waif. She has mad hacking skills, an eidetic memory, genius level math skills and a propensity not to take crap. So, in other words I really liked the books, especially the character of Lisbeth. Hopefully the legal disputes over the fourth unfinished manuscript can be resolved and it will come to light.
For the rest of the review, I want to talk a bit about the new film and some of the choices it made. Ian Tregillis has put up a very good review here and Melinda Snodgrass has another good one here. I wanted to say a bit more and there will be some spoilers, so the rest is continued after the cut.
Overall, I think the movie did an excellent job. It was 2 hours and 40 minutes long, but it seemed to go quickly (for me.) They cut out Blomkvist’s relationship with Cecilia Vanger and his prison term from the libel conviction. Neither one of those plot lines did much for me in the book so those seemed to be fine choices.
The ending is by far the main thing that changes. In the book, Blomkvist, Lisbeth & co. bug cousin Anita’s house and find that Harriet Vanger is alive on a ranch in Australia. This occupies quite a bit of space and the movies compacting this into Harriet Vanger having taken the place of her know deceased cousin in London worked as a smoother rendering to me. So, another fine choice.
When Lisbeth starts after Martin Vanger, in the book she states, “I’m going to take him” and goes after him while Blomkvist tries to shout to her to wait but just kind of croaks as he is still hanging from his constraint. In the movie Lisbeth asks, “May I kill him?” and Blomkvist says yes. I found this change a little questionable as it takes some agency away from Lisbeth, but in truth I didn’t notice the change during the movie. I prefer the book line here.
In both the book and the movie, Martin dies in a fire after crashing is vehicle while Lisbeth was chasing him. In the book she continues on by and watches the fire from a distance. In the movie she pulls up and watches the fire close up. Either scene works for me. Seeing her silhouetted against the fire probably works better as a cinematic image. This seems like a wash with both versions working.
There has been some internet talk that Lisbeth is “sexualized” in a dis-empowering way in the movie. I didn’t particularly see it myself. It seemed to me that Lisbeth was quite in charge in the scenes with Blomkvist and Wu. In one scene she basically tells Blomkvist to be quiet while she finishes. The book portrays her as having the same relationships, so these parts seemed fine to me.
The rape scene and Lisbeth’s revenge for the rape played out pretty much as they did in the book. While not pleasant, they are fairly crucial for future developments.
In both the book and the movie I liked that Lisbeth had to do something–plant a bug or use social engineering to do her hacking. It wasn’t just typical Hollywood magic computers, so that part was nice. Her theft of Wennerstrom’s money seemed to follow how she did it in the book fairly well although the movie simplified it a bit. It left off her using an Italian pick up as an alibi and it left off Lisbeth’s direct tipoff of the Miami mob as to Wennerstrom’s whereabouts.
Blomkvist’s relationship with Berger is minimized somewhat in the movie. This is OK, but it makes the ending where Lisbeth sees him with Berger seem like more of a betrayal on Blomkvist’s part than it did in the book. But, on the other hand, this seemed like an effective scene that worked, so it seemed like an OK choice also.
So, I thought that the movie maintained the integrity of the book. It presents us with a fascinating character. I see Sony has announced that they will be doing the next two movies and I hope that they continue to maintain the high production levels.