The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

There are certain things I glom on to. Fixate may be a better term than glom. All kinds of different things really, and The Millennium Trilogy is one of them.

Other recent fixations:

  • The Wire
  • Three Floyds beer
  • British spy stories
  • Sue Grafton’s alphabet series
  • NBA

This fixation bias could be a character flaw of some sort. I don’t really understand why I do it and it throws me a curveball every so often. The other night, a dear friend asked me, “Why are you such a big fan of Three Floyd’s?”

I didn’t have an answer. I stumbled around a little and eventually just told her something like, “I don’t know really, I just fixate on things…Squirrel!!

I ask for Three Floyds wherever I go, I fantasize about a brewery tour, and I constantly try to push it on others. All this, and I bet I couldn’t pick it out in a blind taste test with Budweiser.

Along these same lines, I can’t really explain my fixation with The Millennium Trilogy either. Why did I decide to fixate on it instead of, say, the Mission Impossible franchise? You have every right to doubt the genuineness of my devotion to these things. Heck, part of why I write this stuff down is to make sense of these fixations. I went back and checked out my take right after I read the first book and it was somewhat enlightening.

I’m sure of this though, these things provide me with awesome sensory experiences. Excitement, anticipation, flavor, introspection …that’s all that matters isn’t it? And the sensory experience is heightened a little bit when you have some stake in it, when you take it a little more seriously, when you care. I could have gone to see the Mission Impossible flick with my wife, but I didn’t, and won’t. I went to see TGWTDT, alone, because, for whatever reason, I’m into it. I care. I’ve read the books and seen the foreign films and read all the reviews. I take my Blomkvist and Salander seriously.

It started out cool. The cover of Immigrant Song during the opening credits was awesome. I just stared in wonder as the music boomed and the black oil stuff oozed across the screen. I bought the song (oh, I already owned the Led Zeppelin version).

It stayed on pace after that. Great movie. Well done by Fincher. Relatively true to the book, at least to my satisfaction. Mara and Craig put forth solid performances as Salander and Blomkvist. I would see it again. I started re-watching the Swedish version (instantly on Netflix) to clarify some things and maybe I’ll re-read the book.

I wonder what it would have been like to see this thing for the first time. I didn’t get to feel much of the excitement and anticipation because I knew the story. There were audible gasps from theatre-goers throughout (it was jam-packed the day after Christmas). It was evident that many were familiar with the story because a lot of the gasps would occur before the shocking moments.

** PLOT KILLERS FOLLOW **

Fincher made some changes, most notably the ending. It threw me a curveball because I was waiting for the trip to Australia, but it never occurred, so I blanked on the key scene. Oh well.

There are other subtleties that fans are talking about and one of them relates to the Mara/Fincher take on Salander relative to the Swedish take (played perfectly by Noomi Rapace). I thought Mara nailed Salander, don’t get me wrong, but Rapace’s version was what I envision Salander looking like. Monika Bartyzel, from movies.com seems to agree, but for reasons much more subtler than I could discern on my own. She says this:

Fincher’s Lisbeth is not Larsson’s. She is sexualized, softened, romanticized, and less empowered. Whether he intended this or not, it’s what countless critics see in the film; they don’t mind it – in fact most like it – but they’ve recognized it and have written about it.

So there’s that. See what you think. Here’s the Charlie Rose interview where Rapace makes specific reference to “inhabiting Salander” (early on, starting at 1:45). Contrast this with the Charlie Rose group discussion with everyone from the American version (Rooney Mara discusses her take on Salander at about the 19:45 mark).

Hmmm, I don’t know what to make of this issue. I’m not in touch with my subconscious enough to be able to assess if Fincher and Mara ruined Salander.

I hope they make the whole trilogy and I hope they keep the team intact. It didn’t fare well in the first weekend, but there were some big films out, so hopefully it has some staying power. Go see it.

[UPDATE]: John Kass has a take, and a familiar fixation.