Elegant Yet Haunting Essay

Submitted By Nursing2
Words: 1265
Pages: 6

Elegant, Yet Haunting:
An Evaluation of the Swedish and American Film Adaptations of
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo A few months ago, a copy of the 2008 best-selling novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, found its way into my possession. Penned by the now-deceased journalist and author, Stieg Larsson, this Swedish crime novel quickly became one of my favorite books. More recently I was encouraged by a friend to watch both the Swedish and the American film adaptations of the novel. I was uneasy about this notion, as any avid reader would be. How could a movie successfully bring to life a story so elegant, yet haunting? My doubts were in vain, however, I realized after viewing the films. Both adaptations were splendid, but one emerged superior. Though the Swedish adaptation is well-beloved abroad, when the viewer considers loyalty to the original storyline, embodiment of the characters, and entertainment value, they will find that it is ultimately outdone by the American version. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an intricate tale of murder, fraud, and family scandal. Alex Berenson, a book critic for the New York Times, described the original novel as a “thoroughly ugly view of human nature.” Such a complex plot proved difficult to bring to life. However, the 2011 American film, directed by David Fincher, does an impressive job of staying true to the original sequence of events. The story’s protagonist, Mikael Blomkvist, is a journalist whose legal troubles comprise generous portions of the opening and closing segments of the novel. Fincher’s adaptation follows suit. The central plot – an investigation of the disappearance of a wealthy teenage girl some forty years prior – is also followed closely by the American film. Fincher’s version does slightly deviate from the original fate of the missing girl, though, as well as neglects to include a few fascinating, though inconsequential, subplots. These omissions, however, are necessary to condense a 500-page novel into a 158-minute film. According to New York Times critic A. O. Scott, Fincher’s adaptation “manages to hold on to the vivid and passionate essence of the book while remaining true enough to its…plot.” This faithfulness to the original novel is the American film’s most advantageous quality. This adaptation’s earlier counterpart, the 2009 Swedish film directed by Niels Arden Oplev, is nearly identical in length. However, this two-and-a-half-hour-long movie fails to incorporate much of the original content. In her review for the Los Angeles Times, Betsy Sharkey explains that Oplev performed “some major renovations on the story - changing characters, plot points, and relationships to suit his needs.” Major details of the investigation, circumstances of the characters, and emotional climaxes are eliminated. In their place, less complex elements are written in. Rather than exploring the novel’s complicated romantic affair between the protagonist and his long-time friend and editor, Erika Berger, Oplev’s film eschews the matter altogether. Instead of examining historical documents and delving into the scandalous saga of the missing girl’s family, Oplev’s characters traipse across Sweden, chasing a vague trail of clues. Overall, modifications such as these transform the story from an eerie, yet eloquent thriller to a rather undistinguished murder mystery. Second only to its elaborate plot, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s captivating characters greatly contribute to the story’s intrigue. The heroine is an exceptionally slender and fair-skinned, tattooed and pierced young computer-hacking prodigy named Lisbeth Salander. Salander is an enigma of sorts – nearly entirely withdrawn from society with violent tendencies, yet brimming with talent and an intelligent sense of humor. In David Fincher’s adaptation, she is portrayed by the American actress, Rooney Mara. Mara embodies Salander’s appearance…