Films

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

December 21st 2011
  • Suspense/Thriller,
  • R,
  • 158 min,
  • Sony Pictures
Girlmain_film-artwork
  • Cast: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson, Goran Visnjic, Julian Sands, Steven Berkoff, Yorick van Wageningen, Geraldine James, Arly Jover, Donald Sumpter, David Dencik, Moa Garpendal, Bengt C.W. Carlsson, Mathilda von Essen, Cate Montgomery
  • Director: David Fincher
  • Writers: Steven Zaillian, Stieg Larsson
  • Producers: Ceán Chaffin, Scott Rudin, Ole Søndberg, Søren Stærmose
  • Co Producer: Berna Levin
  • Executive Producers: Anni Faurbye Fernandez, Mikael Wallen, Steven Zaillian
  • Art Directions: Frida Arvidsson, Linda Jansson, Pernilla Olsson, Tom Reta, Kajsa Severin, Mikael Varhelyi
  • Casting: Laray Mayfield
  • Costume Design: Trish Summerville
  • D.O.P.: Jeff Cronenweth
  • Editors: Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall
  • Makeup: Torsten Witte
  • Musics: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
  • Production Design: Donald Graham Burt
  • Set Decoration: K.C. Fox

Storyline

Based on the first novel in the best-selling Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan.

Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, ruthless computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate.

When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from almost forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

Basic Information

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Filming Locations: Los Angeles, USA; Oslo, Norway; Sweden; Zurich, Switzerland
  • MPAA Warning: Brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language
  • Production Budget: $100 million
  • Production Companies: Optimum Releasing, BBC Films, Beta Cinema, Relativity Media, Scott Rudin Productions, Yellow Bird Films
  • Production Schedule: September 2010 - March 2011

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Trivia

2011 Guide Analysis: "While the youngsters have their "Harry Potter" and "Twilight", for adults the biggest international literary sensation of recent years has been Swedish journalist turned novelist Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. The late author's three weighty tomes unravel the story of Lisbeth Salander, a bisexual, rebellious and genius computer hacker who is very much the victim of abuse and corruption at the heart of the Swedish Government.

While the two latter novels go into her backstory and fight for justice, the first novel introduces her and crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist as they investigate a young girl's disappearance decades beforehand. Though the eventual solution isn't a huge surprise, Larsson's grisly but highly descriptive prose sets up a very effective atmosphere with fully dimensional characters and various clever twists. They are mainstream thriller novels to be sure, but they're smart and have far more depth to them than some other modern best-selling sensations (such as anything by Dan Brown).

So now comes the inevitable Hollywood adaptation of the material. Taken on its own, the film has pretty much everything it can have going for it. "Se7en" and "Fight Club" director David Fincher, a talented filmmaker who could put his name on dogshit and have even the toughest film critics claim it's gold, is helming. Daniel Craig is perfectly cast as Blomkvist and the supporting talents on offer include the likes of Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Plummer, Steven Berkoff, Geraldine James and Joely Richardson.

Acclaimed scribe Steve Zaillian ("Schindler's List, " "American Gangster") is adapting the script which has gotten rave reviews from those who've read it. The oft-award winning Scott Rudin is producing, Sony has granted the filmmakers a considerable budget, and Fincher is staying true to the book by keeping not only the locations set in Sweden, but is shooting there as well. Sony plans to make the whole trilogy should the first one be the success they hope, and all involved are keen on the idea as well.

So what's the problem? One is that there already has been a recent adaptation. In 2009 Yellow Bird produced three Swedish-language films based on the three books. Originally designed and shot as a six-part, nine-hour TV mini-series, only a cut down, single film version of the first two parts was set to go theatrical. That went on to become a massive hit in Europe and has clocked upwards of $104 million in box-office sales worldwide to date.

Needless to say that after its success in Sweden, the other four parts of the mini-series were quickly shaved down and recut into two films to make a film trilogy which saw release later that year in Sweden. All three films garnered a limited theatrical release in most Western countries over the course of this year. Reviews were also quite strong for the films, especially the first one. These adaptations were kept fairly straightforward, hitting all of the main plot points of the books but doing them in the cold intellectual way akin to many dramas from Scandinavian countries.

Some higher brow critics panned the lack of visible emotion on offer, were turned off by the quite dark nature of some of it (there's a brutal rape scene early on), or just considered it a cheap and nasty work. Yet many others embraced it, calling it one of the best thrillers in years, though the love for the subsequent films was visibly not so strong as the obvious TV production values definitely had an impact on the quality.

Still, there's a considerable fanbase for the Swedish films out there, especially in Europe, who're loathe to a Hollywood remake over moralising the story or not living up to scratch in any area. The biggest area of vulnerability is the girl herself. The single most common piece of praise for the Swedish film trilogy, even amongst the sternest critics, was for actress Noomi Rapace's performance as Lisbeth. Her work was good enough to catch the attention of many Hollywood casting agents which helped score her the female lead role in the upcoming "Sherlock Holmes" sequel.

With Fincher's version, the helmer cast a wide net and considered a whole bunch of talent. Ultimately he settled on Rooney Mara, the young actress whose biggest credits to date were the lead role in the odious "A Nightmare on Elm Street" remake, and as Mark Zuckerberg's ex-girlfriend in the brilliant opening scene of Fincher's superb but overpraised "The Social Network". If the other 'Girls' films hadn't been done, Mara would've been under immense of pressure to deliver a strong performance anyway as she's the only one involved without a major track record. With Rapace's work available as a comparison, said pressure only gets higher.

Those who can't handle the idea of a world where one can enjoy both adaptations for what they are should take heart in another Swedish thriller literary figure - Kurt Wallander. The BBC's Swedish shot and set English-language versions with Kenneth Branagh are great, and don't take away from the excellent Swedish-language versions with Krister Henriksson. Both tackle the material with different approaches and the same will happen here, what'll be fun will be comparing the merits of both versions afterwards.

If Fincher manages to get the fullest potential out of the material, we could have something we haven't really had in a very long time - an epic, adult, awards-calibre film trilogy. If he bombs utterly, well we'll always have the Swedish films to fall back on. If he hits the middle ground though, something more run-of-the mill than expected, that would be the biggest disappointment in some ways."

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Worldwide Release Dates

  • 21 December 2011: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden
  • 26 December 2011: Ireland, UK
  • 29 December 2011: Israel, Slovenia
  • 5 January 2012: Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore
  • 6 January 2012: Bulgaria, Estonia, India, Lithuania
  • 12 January 2012: Australia, Czech Republic, Germany
  • 13 January 2012: Poland, Spain, Turkey
  • 18 January 2012: Belgium, France
  • 19 January 2012: Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal
  • 27 January 2012: Brazil
  • 3 February 2012: Italy