Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Film Vs. Book: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson, 2005.

If you want an official description, look below on the film write-up; I've always been terrible at those. I enjoyed this, but I can't put it into the "blew my skirt up" category. Stieg Larsson was obviously a smart guy (read about him here). Stephen King in On Writing said that there are books with good writing, books with good story, and some books with both; this was a book with a good story. That said, it was an unnecessarily long story that took many hundreds of pages to get going. I imagine some readers may have given up, not only because of length, but the complexities of the damned Vanger family----did there have to be quite so many of them? It was difficult (and not worth the energy) keeping all of them straight until actual events began to unfold which involved them; before they were involved in the plot, I completely blew each random Vanger off. Once it gets going, though, it really goes. It's a compelling story and not exactly a lightweight subject matter. There are a lot of details and a lot of words, so I think you need to be a person who likes details and words in order to enjoy it.

Sometimes I feel like rape, incest, and sexual assault in general are topics that are just *too* explosive, too personal, and this was no exception. As a reader, I'm disgusted and upset by this sort of thing; I very nearly quit reading Gerald's Game (King) for this reason. It's touchy. And for writers, I completely understand the desire to create experiments in good and evil, to explore dark topics, and then to (hopefully) bring at least some sort of catharsis to readers; good and evil is part of life! They can say they took the dark journey, were disturbed by it, but can still sleep at night knowing that somehow, the good in the world is out there. I get that. I think it worked in this novel mainly due to Lisbeth's (the girl with the proverbial DRAGON TATTOO) character, her background, and her ultimate revenge (many times over). I can dig revenge. If you check out the Wikipedia page for Stieg Larsson and find the INFLUENCES heading, you'll know just why he chose to write about this sort of thing. It's pretty major.

It's worth reading. And I really liked the ending.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, 2009, directed by Niels Arden Oplev. Written by Nikolaj Arcel.
starring: Michael Nygvist, Noomi Rapace.

"A journalist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing -- or dead -- for forty years by a young female hacker." (IMDB).

I thought the film was better than the book. It was condensed, obviously, and in all the right places. They took some liberties with characters and chronology, all good ones. The actors looked *exactly* as I pictured them, and it's always fun when that happens. I've not been to Sweden, but it looked exactly as I pictured that too, or actually, just like Northern Minnesota and very cold. They seemed to drink a lot more coffee in the book, I kind of wished they had put that in because it made me giggle a lot at just how often they did it, and they axed my ending and did not explore that particular plot line---I wished they would have. Other than that, really excellent. Great instrumental music, awesome job showcasing still photography as a heavy part of the mystery--it actually really helped being able to put names to faces immediately, which wasn't possible in the book.
Nice work.


Donald said...

"The actors looked *exactly* as I pictured them"

You mean it featured a girl with a dragon tattoo?

I know nothing about these books and movies, other than that everybody talks about them. This is one of those books that even the back cover had me all confused, so I've never read it. And judging by your review, I'm glad I didn't and I probably never will.

However... maybe I'll check out the movie. This wasn't exactly the rave of the century, but it has me intrigued.

Anna said...

What a goddamned smartass. I didn't even really get a good look at the tattoo, I'm saying the general appearance was the same.

It's a good film.

Donald said...

You don't even get a good look at the tattoo?! I'd be pissed off. That's false advertising!

Is the twist ending that the girl's tattoo isn't actually a picture of the mythical creature, but of Daryl Dragon from Captain and Tennille?