Tondra Dene is a movie-loving downtown girl. Between her regular Saturday night gig hosting “Solstice” house music night at Bar Smith, Tondra co-produces and hosts weekly video episodes on Directorslive.com showcasing exclusive interviews with directors, producers and actors. Catch her movie review and news column here.
About a month ago I saw the new English remake of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so I decided to watch the Swedish original (2009) for a comparison of the two films this week. The main question I have to ask (like the original Swedish filmaker Neils Arden Oplev) is why? Why make an almost identical version of a movie 3 years later from the making of the original? Are the characters and premise of the story that intriguing to want to tell it all over again without the subtitles?
Well, I’d have to say yes, the main character Lisbeth Salander, in both versions, is extremely intriguing. Think La Femme Nikita meets Æon Flux, meets Angelina Jolie from the early 90’s flick Hackers. There’s something very alluring about this punk rock, pale, androgynous female that has you spellbound in the desire to know her story, even 3 years later. And that’s just it, you don’t really discover how she became so hardcore—just like any sweet seduction, she leaves you wanting more. When Lisbeth becomes intertwined with the likes of reporter/investigator Mikael Blomkvist, the James Bond-esque vigor seems to coincide very well with his new lady danger friend. Together, they work at solving a 40-year old missing person’s case and almost become missing themselves in the process. The action sequences in both films keep you on the edge of your seat; however, the Swede style is a tad more graphically intense when showing images of victims. Speaking of disturbing images, be prepared for some unpleasant rape scenes on both antagonists and protagonists.
When it comes to the other main character, Mikael Blomkvast, I feel Daniel Craig was an excellent fit for the role; he just had that natural, inquisitive, 007-approach. The energy exchange and chemistry between Mikael and Lisbeth was fun to watch, but more believable in the English version. What I liked most about Lisbeth’s character in general is that she did not relinquish any control—to anyone. Just when you think she’s become too beaten down, she dusts herself off, puts up her dukes and fights back! She’s definitely one crafty, cybernetic, badass bitch who will get her revenge one way or another. I thought Swedish Lisbeth, Noomi Rapace, defined a more masculine image with her brute arm muscles which flowed nicely with her tough attitude. In contrast, her English counterpart, Rooney Mara, appeared more feminine and slightly frail. The original film gives some coverage of her family relations and a deeper glimpse into her past. The look and feel of the two films both take place in modern day Sweden; the Hollywood version has a crisper, edgier, HD feel and makes the original in contrast seem warmer and much like an independent movie.
The soundtrack of the latest version had some awesomely intense electro beats by composer Trent Reznor from NIN, which perfectly kept the pace of the film, making it a total joy ride. Someone asked me after watching both versions which one did I prefer most of the two? Although both were excellent in there own ways, I had to say the original, mainly because the ending of the latest was left a too little vague. However, now I’m left looking forward to the future films of this trilogy.