By Features Staff Writer Alex Smallridge
Americans are known for remaking European films, and they are known for remaking them badly. However, David Fincher – with a Best Picture Golden Globe and a few cult classics under his belt – seems like someone who’d be able to pull off a remake of a worldwide phenomenon.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a well-known story for the successes that both its namesake Stieg Larsson novel and the original Swedish film have garnered. But for those who don’t know the film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a dark, brooding and edgy thriller set in the frozen Swedish landscape.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo centers on Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) who attempts to discover just what happened to affluent Henrik Vanger’s (Christopher Plummer) niece who disappeared 40 years ago. With the help of the eponymous, dragon-tattooed Lisbeth Salander, (Rooney Mara) Blomkvist uncovers a string of the most brutal murders imaginable and takes a trip into the horrors of human brutality.
While the film keeps you on the edge of your seat with its mystery, the power of this film comes in its honesty. Most mysteries have clues and conclusions fall into the protagonists’ laps quickly and without effort. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo instead shows the true process, with every clue arriving after weeks of research and incredible effort, amounting to a breakthrough. Such revelations show the true effort of an investigation and how discovery comes from reading volumes, not through random conversations or notes one might pick up.
While such honesty leads to deliciously slow pacing, it also draws the movie out. The character of Lisbeth Salander, however, more than fixes this issue. Designed to grab attention through both her desperate situation and intriguing persona, the melding of her character study with the mystery holds one’s focus in an iron grasp.
Fincher also inserts tension and action into every scene, rendering the audience rapt with attention as they watch Blomkvist in the same way that we would watch explosions in other films. This isn’t to say there aren’t high tension and action-filled scenes, but they are well balanced with the slow pacing of the film.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a remake of a recent film and as such, one can’t help but compare them. I conclude that Fincher does right by the original. Fincher doesn’t ignore the original, but he doesn’t copy it either. Fincher kept the original’s ponderous pacing and the angst of its characters while bringing the audience much closer to the story. While the original took a removed and expansive perspective, Fincher’s brings the audience very close, as though they are standing right next to the characters.
This remake also ramps up the intensity throughout the film, filling every act with tension. Fincher’s version is much more cinematic. That being said, one cannot qualify this film as better or worse than the original. Both are excellent in different ways: two different, but equal interpretations of Stieg Larsson’s masterpiece.