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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - The Ex-Communicator

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December 29th, 2011


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01:28 pm - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo directed by David Fincher is either an American remake of the Swedish film or a new adaptation of the Swedish novel, not sure which. I have seen the original film but not read the novel. Very unusually I think the English-language remake is as good as the original, perhaps better. I might read the novel now, which I didn't want to before.

I found the original film a bit of a male fantasy: I thought it was implausible that assertive independent, gay, and massively attractive Noomi Rapace would throw herself at a podgy middle aged journo. In this version Lisbeth Salander's appearance is stranger (though the actress is very beautiful) and Daniel Craig as the journo is equally attractive as her, so the relationship between them is less implausible. It also seems to be better integrated with her character development. He is non-sexist and non-threatening to her - unselfconsciously, not in a 'look what a non-sexist guy I am' sort of way. You see from the woman's wary eye how his behaviour looks to her, so her warming to him becomes plausible. It might just be that I think Craig is more attractive than the original actor, but I think there's a bit more to it than that.

Fincher's version is also less sexist in the way that the brutal murders of women are portrayed. One is aware of the crimes, but they were more off-screen, less gloatingly presented, less 'woman in fridge'. The highly difficult rape scene is retained though - and once again I closed my eyes and put my fingers in my ears until it was over so I can't really say anything about it. On the whole I think this Hollywood remake is less male-centric and better balanced than the Swedish original. Not that the original was bad, or that this version has no problems, but I think in dealing with difficult source material, Fincher has done a good job. I definitely will see the next two when he makes them.

ETA - Oh, it didn't do so well at the box office so there may not be any sequels. I think perhaps people don't want to see bad sex and violence at Christmas. Sherlock Holmes II is more the kind of thing for the season. But I still say this is good stuff.

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:azdak
Date:December 29th, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure reading the book is a good idea under the crics - all the faults you mention in the Swedish film are in the book in spades. (This review sums it up beautifully http://tigerbeatdown.com/2010/07/29/the-girl-with-the-lots-of-creepy-disturbing-torture-that-pissed-me-off-on-stieg-larsson/).
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From:communicator
Date:December 29th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
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Yes, those are the problems I had with the original film, and that's why I never bothered with the novel. I think Fincher has made some effort to rebalance the male-centric vision of the original, but obviously limited by the constraints of the plot. There's part of me that wants reach out to my friends who have told me how much they love the trilogy.
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From:azdak
Date:December 29th, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
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The book also has annoying little statistics about violence against women at the start of every chapter, whose cumulative effect is to make you think Larsson believes you might as well shoot your daughters at birth if you don't want them raped. It doesn't help that not a single rapist in the book is brought to trial, or even publically accused of rape - Larsson practically says straight out that the criminal justice system can do nothing to help and that lone vigilantism is a woman's only option. Not that it'll stop her getting raped, but it'll make her feel better about it. (I really hated the book. And on top of all that, it's kind of annoyingly written, with some really tedious stretches.)
From:nancylebov
Date:December 29th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
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So, is The Screwfly Solution feminist or not? (The formatting on the page is broken, "select all" solves it well enough.)
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From:azdak
Date:December 29th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
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I don't know - I've never read it. Is there any particular reason why I should?
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From:communicator
Date:December 29th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
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It is a good short story by Alice Sheldon. It is about violence against women, but I don't think it is sexist. It is about objectification, rather than objectifying.
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From:azdak
Date:December 30th, 2011 08:34 am (UTC)
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Thank you!
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From:ajr
Date:December 29th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
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People I know in America are blaming the advertising for the film. What with the book having a huge appeal with women, they feel it was wrong for the film to go with the heavily sexist advertising it did, as it put women right off the film even if they liked the books.

I must admit to still being undecided if I'll see it myself.
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From:communicator
Date:December 29th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
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I can't remember what the advertising was like now. It didn't strike me as terribly sexist, but perhaps it was different in the US? I think this in any case pushes the boundaries of what a woman can reasonably be expected to pay to watch, when there's alternative material on the next screen. And this is probably aimed at a slightly older audience, not the very young audience that will take torture and dismemberment in its stride.
From:abigail_n
Date:December 29th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
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The poster (which I'm fairly certain was international) depicts Salander topless, with Blomkvist hugging her protectively. This article argues that it reflects a deliberate choice to make Salander seem more feminine and more sexualized as compared to Noomi Rapace's version, and that this choice is also expressed in the film.
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From:londonkds
Date:December 29th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
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I never saw that poster in the UK. That may have been due to either more thoughtful promotion or tougher regulation.
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From:communicator
Date:December 29th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
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I prefer Noomi Rapace's stronger features, so Rooney Mara seems less sexual to me, but I guess that's just personal taste.

Edited at 2011-12-29 04:13 pm (UTC)
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From:lamentables
Date:December 29th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
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I keep rereading your comments there about attractiveness...are you really suggesting that the greater the perceived disparity in 'attractiveness' (elaborated largely as relating to appearance and levels of strangeness/podginess), the less plausible a relationship seems?
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From:communicator
Date:December 29th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
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Yes absolutely. Particularly when a film shows a pretty young girl chucking herself at some old codger old enough to be her dad, in a film funded by old codgers of exactly that type.
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From:lamentables
Date:December 29th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
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Is this just a film/tv thing? What about books? And real life?
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From:communicator
Date:December 29th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
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I kind of get the impression that there is something I'm not understanding in what you are saying.

But FWIW it's the resemblance of films to real life (or their failure to resemble real life) that I am talking about. In real life men and women vary in how attractive they are - I honestly don't think that's too wildly controversial to say that. And people tend to have sexual relations with people who are about as attractive as themselves. Give or take. I don't see lots of massively unequal partnerships.

In the Swedish film (in my opinion) the male character was not that physically attractive, and yet lots and lots of very beautiful women made sexual advances at him, including Salander, who I thought was way, way better looking than him. In the remake the male character was more attractive, and the female character less attractive, so the relationship was more equal, and I thought more plausible.

I can tell that you are offended by me saying this, but I can't tell why.
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From:lamentables
Date:December 29th, 2011 09:38 pm (UTC)
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No, I was asking for clarification because I didn't understand what you were saying.

It turns out you were saying what I first thought, but I was so baffled by that idea that I assumed I was misreading.
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From:communicator
Date:December 31st, 2011 09:09 am (UTC)
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I am like your mother's partner in my prejudice against English-language remakes. The only counterexample I can think of apart from this film is The Departed, which is very good even if it isn't perhaps quite as good as the Hong Kong original, Infernal Affairs.

Armansky (if he's the guy I think) seemed protective to Salander in this film, rather than lecherous, and that's typical of the slight changes Fincher has made throughout to reduce the sexism of the atmosphere, or so it seems to me. And this did change the context for Blomkvist, because he is no longer the sole non-creepy guy. Overall I felt that in the film sexism is shown as a widespread thing, but not an all-pervasive ocean that drowns us all.

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From:communicator
Date:December 31st, 2011 09:12 am (UTC)
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Oh yeah, and I agree it was clear Berger and her husband had an open marriage. In the original film I felt she was more vulnerable, more needy of Blomqvist. Another change by Fincher which normalises the relations between men and women, and makes the women less sexually vulnerable.

The cumulative effect is quite a big change in atmosphere - I think to the better.
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From:tehomet
Date:January 4th, 2012 12:13 am (UTC)
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On the one hand, I want to see this movie because I love the director and I've heard so much about the character of Lisbeth (having not read the books, which were highly praised, nor seen the earlier movies), but on the other hand, rape scenes are triggery for me. I don't know if I will go see it, but I thank you for the thoughtful review all the same.

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