Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - the Swedish and the American versions

I’ve finally seen both the Swedish and the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

They were both good, in their own ways. A combo of the two would have been best, I think.

From here on there will be spoilers.

One advantage Swedish movie in general has is the lack of decent productions leads to quite a set of talented and experienced actors in a fairly big production. They even squeezed in Per Oscarsson – one of Sweden’s absolute elite – for ten seconds as a man in coma.

A major difference is Sweden’s lack of need to focus on one character and rather tell about a situation. This is something completely unthinkable in American movies. In the American version they chose to focus on Mikael Blomkvist, Daniel Craig’s character, which had the disadvantage (in my opinion) to leave Lisbeth Salander as someone with far less initiatives than in the Swedish version.

The dialog in the American version was better than the Swedish, by far. The Swedish is on the nose and theatrical, telling facts rather than showing character. I loved the American scene where Lisbeth meets Frode, Henric Vagner’s lawer, where he wants to hear her opinion, rather than what is in her report and she says “He's had a long standing sexual relationship with his co-editor of the magazine. Sometimes he performs cunnilingus on her. Not often enough in my opinion.” In the Swedish version she states that she thinks he was set up – pretty lame and tells nothing of her, only telling us, the audience, what we need to know about Mikael Blomkvist.

I liked Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth a little bit more - maybe because of better lines - but I didn’t like that they removed the initiative from her to Mikael. In the Swedish version Lisbeth is the one contacting Mikael, in the American the other way around; and so with many little things.

The story was about the same, but more visible in the American version, with flashbacks. The bad guy was better in the American version. In the Swedish he was a guy who had violent sex and then killed his victims so they didn’t tell the story. In the American version I can’t remember that sex was even on the map – otherwise than he told that he had been forced to have sex with his father. The Swedish version of bad guy hated his sister, while the American one was fond of her.

On the whole I think I would have liked the American dialog, with the Swedish ideas of focus on situation, rather than character and a mix of the versions of the story.