The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo US Version vs. Swedish Original (Män som hatar kvinnor (original title))

Finally got a chance to watch the US version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1568346/) and compare it to the original Swedish version (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1132620/) which included English subtitles. I did my best to avoid inputting any spoilers, so read on at your own risk.

Daniel Craig playing Mikale Blomkvist in the US version and was a formidable doppelganger for Michael Nyqvist who plays in the original.  Both men were sturdy characters with intensity and detail; they played the brooding male journalist turned fumble fingered investigator to a tee.  While the relationship in the US version between Lisbeth and Mikael seemed to get more screen time, Daniel Craig seemed far less attracted to Lisbeth.  Daniel appeared besieged by solving the unexplained vanishing of Anita Vanger (played by Joely Richardson).  Much more time is focused in the US version on the Anita Vanger story line than a development of the relationship with Mikale and Lisbeth.  While Micahel Nyqvist spent, time developing a protective, mystifying, and sometimes randomly sexual relationship with her over a period of three Swedish movies.  The development of that relationship between the two appears very secondary and almost a passive afterthought in the US version.

The casting of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander was a bit of a visual complexity to overcome after watching Noomi Rapace as the original.  The more I watched Rooney Mara the further I was loyal to her character and wanted her to be just as badass.  Both actors did a brilliant job being disobedient, anti-social, indestructible, defiant, raw and every so often emotionally connected while still being highly gifted with the stealth computers skills of Lisbeth.  Visually, I preferred Noomi Rapace in the role; physically she seemed scrappier and apt to be that person in real life. Not much time is spent in the US version on Lisbeth’s story until the latter half of the film.  Lisebth Salander is a layered, tortured and complicated character and without watching the two subsequent movies (The Girl Who Played With Fire & The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest) you are left without truly understanding the full circle intricacy she faces in her life and her relationship with herself and Mikale.

Another bitter pill to swallow was Mikale’s extra marital affair and business partner of Robin Wright as Erika Berger.  While she is an excellent actor in her own right, her casting in this situation was vacant emotionally after watching Lena Endre in the original version. I could have done without the cocktail party and the odd addition of a few scenes with Mikale’s daughter.  Both scenes seemed completely out of place and afterthoughts.

Peter Anderson as Nils Bjurman (the advocate assigned to Lisbeth) in the Swedish version has to be the most sinister and scheming character in the movie.  While taking advantage of his position, his weaknesses are exposed.  He plays the villain to Lisbeth’s heroin eloquently and his attention to detail, as well as physical attributes plays well into the character.  This continues to pay off in the following two sequels.  I am unsure how Yorick van Wageningen will reprise his role in the two future US sequels, as you know if you have read the books, this role is continual and plays a major part in the sequels and Lisbeth’s future.

Of course, the casting of Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger in the US version seemed a rather clear choice given a review of his historical roles.  Nevertheless, he did an exceptional job of being saliently creepy in the most courteous of ways.  His completely debonair turned disturbing act was authentic.  I hate to say this, but it is much like what I would envision this person to be in real life.  Much better than the original Martin Vanger (played by Peter Haber) whose acting seemed disconnected and a bit like watching paint dry.  I will leave it at that because if you have not seen the movies or read the book I do not want to generate any spoilers.

The filming locations seemed identical overall.  There were beautiful changes of seasons and scenery in Stockholm, as well as Spain and Switzerland.  The mansion has a chill factor of ten plus in the winter, but when photography is shown of the countryside and the mansion in the summer and spring months it seems inviting.

After my husband said several times, “give it a chance”, it did begin to get very interesting comparing the intricacies of the story line in the two versions.  If you are squeamish to violence or uncomfortable with sexual context and graphics neither of these versions is for you.  While they are similar, some plots are not gone into as much detail as the original version.  The US version has a very different cast than the original version and plays it much safer in the overall sexual characteristics of the movie.  Overall, the US version was a worthy twin both personality wise and cinematically.  It will be appealing to see the sequels to the US version and where the writers continue to expand upon the current attributes of the actors.  Once the US trilogy is in place I may have a different review based on what expansion of the storyline and the back-story takes place.  The ideal character set for me both visually and for the reality factor would be a mix of the two sets from both the US and the Swedish versions.  As for me, overall at this time I prefer to read the subtitles and watch the original Swedish Versions.

****Disclaimer: This review is solely my own opinion. I was not paid to publish this review by any party. If I misspelled an actors name, forgive me I did my best to review them. Video Trailers are courtesy of IMDB. ****

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009 Swedish Trailer)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011 US Trailer #1)

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