Posted by: markfender | September 12, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

It’s time to once again compare Swedish films versus their American remakes.

I thought maybe when they remade this one, they might change the setting to something Americans were more familiar with. But no. This one takes place in Sweden with the same plot beats as the original.

First off, the movie makes a weird choice to have everyone talk with slight Swedish accents. Except that Daniel Craig’s Swedish accent sometimes disappears entirely. Other times, it’s just an English accent. And some times it comes raging back. It was wildly inconsistent and didn’t really help the movie any. Rooney Mara pulls it off for the whole movie, but it somehow just made her seem retarded. Noomi Rapace was probably a better version of Lisbeth, but I didn’t hate Rooney Mara. My real issue was with her costume design. While the punked-out goth girl thing is certainly a look, Noomi Rapace pulls it off way better. They decided to dye Rooney Mara’s eyebrows blonde, which made them disappear into her dark hair and make it look like she had no eyebrows at all. It looked weird and I never fully adjusted to seeing her. Which is a shame because I’d much rather see her naked than Noomi Rapace.

There’s one other major actor problem from the film. How many Swedish actors do you know? I can pretty much name the Skarsgards. So when the only other actor you recognize is being played by Soren Skarsgard – guess who the bad guy is? The Swedish version at least, for me, held its cards a little closer to its chest in that since I didn’t recognize any of the actors, I didn’t know who the bad guy was. Maybe it was different in Sweden. Now, I think Soren Skarsgard did an excellent job. He added a few mannerisms to the torture scene that worked for the character extremely well. But the mystery is pretty much nonexistent when you cast one recognizable face amongst all the suspects.

Plot is pretty beat-for-beat. There’s some scandal, lots of snow, Nazis, rape, torture, and all the loving stuff this franchise is known for. No real changes there. The rape scene in the American version was actually more graphic than the Swedish version. I figured American squeamishness would tone that one down, but I guess not. And I guess I should just mention that the revenge tattoo was actually done by Prey for Rock and Roll first.

One final note on the American version: the credits. David Fincher loves opening credits. Usually, they add something (The reconstruction of John Doe’s diaries in Seven, the trip through the brain in Fight Club) but this time they look like a very weird James Bond opening. Lots of naked girls dancing around covered in oil. Maybe I just made that leap because of Daniel Craig. But they really felt wrong for the tone of the rest of the film.

I would recommend the Swedish version over the American version. There’s a lot of subtitles, but the mystery isn’t spoiled by casting and you can look at Noomi Rapace without being freaked out by her lack of eyebrows.


  1. So very very wrong…I don’t even have time to argue everything now. On Podcast maybe, if I can remember to bring it up.

  2. You’re on a podcast again, Dale? Awesome.

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