It’s my new hobby, I think, watching different adaptations of the same source material. Oh yes, I do like to live dangerously, of this there can be no doubt.
I’ve done it previously with The Killing (you can read about that here) and I’ve also tried it with ‘Let The Right One In' (try clicking here and here for that stuff).
This time, it’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I read the book back when it first came out, just before it became something of a publishing phenomenon. I wrote about that reading way back here. Jees this is getting like some kind of a half-arsed infomercial. I’m all-done with the links now. I promise.
With regard to the books, I really liked the first one, I was a bit ‘iffy’ about the second one and I simply hated the third one. It was the ‘Law of Diminishing Returns’ in all its glory. That first book, though, I really did like that. For all the talk and debate about it, I felt that it was really just a classic ‘locked room’ murder mystery with various bells and whistles hung on to it.
I like that kind of thing so it was ideally suited for me.
And then, yeah, as most-everybody knows, there was two films made of the first novel of the trilogy. Firstly there was the 2009 Swedish version and then, with much hype and expectation, the 2011 David Fincher version.
There has been much discussion about which of these versions is the better one. When I announced on Twitter that I was treating myself to the Fincher one first on Bluray, it evoked a small storm of equally meted-out support and derision. This level of debate interested me so I resolved to see both films and try to dispassionately decide for myself which one I liked better.
So I did.
If I was any good, I would now string you along for another five hundred words before I pronounce on which one of these two versions I liked the best. But, sod it, it’s my blog and I don’t feel the need to be any good today.
So here it is.
I liked the Fincher one better.
Cheers, boos, hisses, celebratory high-fives – I hear them all (but only in my head, of course. I’m not a fool, I know that nobody cares). So, now that I’ve answered the question, allow me to talk around it a bit. It’s kind-of what I do.
The main reason I like Fincher’s one is very easily summed up. It’s more Cinematic. It looks great, it has great big starry actors in it, it’s highly produced, very well written and it has a title sequence to die-trapped-on-an-island for. It’s like James Bond with loads of black motor oil, you really should see it.
The original version is considerably less cinematic. It looks and feels more like one of those Saturday night BBC4 Nordic murder dramas…
I really like those BBC4 Nordic Murder Dramas, The Killing, The Bridge, Wallender, and, surprise surprise, I found that I really liked this version of ‘Dragon Tattoo’ too.
One of the great things that it has going for it is the fact the cast are largely unknown to us. I wasn’t looking at it saying ‘There’s James Bond’ or ‘Oh look, it’s that 'Sound of Music guy'’. The characters were all there, without any baggage. It helped. Now, I say that and I know that the leading guy, Michael Nyqvist, went on to be the main baddie on 'Mission Impossible 4 – Ghost Protoco'l and, of course, Noomi Rapace went on to ‘Prometheus’. I know, I know but, still, in this film they don’t reek of star quality. I liked that.
My recommendation is that you see both of these adaptations but that’s probably silly, you can’t all be as nerdy about these things as me. If you have to go for one of them, I think it depends on what you like. If you love your BBC4 Nordic Drama, I think you could do very well with the Nordic version of this, with the added advantage that you have two more movies to look forward to. If you like what Fincher does, which is big and dark and very cool, then I would treat yourself to the big Hollywood show. Me, I’m glad I saw both, I enjoyed them.
I can’t write about 'Dragon Tattoo' again without paying at least nodding reference to a plot hole as large as China that I see in the whole thing. It doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of this bleak, isolated, violent, misogynistic tale but it’s still an elephant in the room that I can’t ignore.
It’s when they finally find out that-
- ack, I can’t do it. Maybe I’ll go into the spoiler in the comments section, if anyone’s bothered. That might be for the best.
For what it’s worth I think the original Swedish version highlights the ‘flaw in reasoning’ quite a bit more than the Fincher version does. I think this is down to the original film retaining a ‘trip to Australia’ sequence from the book while Fincher just ventures to London instead.
I think it teaches me that, if you’re going to go off in search of a plot hole, it’s probably best not to travel too far.
And, oh look, for a few days at least, here's that title sequence: