Girl on Film 

Noomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Noomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Swedish title for Stieg Larsson's bestselling book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is Män som hatar kvinnor, which translates roughly to Men Who Hate Women. With a title so fitting, why the change for the English version? Perhaps because the tattooed woman is the real focus of the story. In her, Larsson has found a detective as keen and unlikely as a modern-day Miss Marple — though with significantly more piercings.

The girl with the dragon tattoo is Lisbeth Salander, a standoffish young woman hardened to the world by some terrible, secret past that only begins to unravel later, in the second and third books in Larsson's series. She is brusque and punkish and also happens to possess a number of invaluable investigative tools: a photographic memory, computer hacking genius, and a thirst for justice. These attributes make her an enigmatic heroine and an irresistible asset for the other main character, Mikael Blomkvist.

Blomkvist is a renowned reporter for the small Millennium magazine. Fresh off a major libel scandal, Blomkvist is charged by the wealthy Henrik Vanger to investigate his niece's disappearance some 40 years prior. Harriet Vanger vanished from the wealthy family's island estate when she was only 16, and Henrik suspects she was murdered by someone within the family. Harriet was once a babysitter for Blomkvist, and with a particular soft spot for her, he is compelled (and sustained by a tidy sum of kronor) to take the case. But only when he teams up with Salander is he able to crack it, uncovering generations of lies and shocking Vanger family secrets.

The film is in Swedish with subtitles and produced by the Swedish production company Yellow Bird. This same company produced the Wallander TV series starring Kenneth Branagh, which is probably why the film takes on a similar haunting look, with bluish-gray lighting and stark scenery. The palette and an eerie soundtrack are perfectly suited for the plot, which keeps the audience mildly unsettled, aware of a current of evil running below the surface.

Anyone who has become rapt by Larsson's complex storytelling might wish for more of the intricate, layered plotlines from the book. The film, like most adaptations, sheds some of these layers to keep the story moving. But the editing maintains the most important parts and lays the requisite groundwork for the sequels.

Having read the books, I was most hesitant about the casting, but Noomi Rapace is a pitch-perfect Salander, embodying the most complex character in the novel with ease and style. And for a character millions of readers have pored over and connected with, her success in the film carries a weight much larger than most other aspects of the film.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Bohemian Rhapsody

      The Glossy Biopic Can’t Live Up To Freddy Mercury’s Legend
    • The Old Man And The Gun

      Robert Redford retires at the top of his game
    • Wildlife

      Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal are a couple in crisis in Paul Dano’s directorial debut.

Blogs

Tiger Blue

Tigers 109, Yale 102 (2 OT)

Tiger Blue

Tigers 28, SMU 18

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies Defeat Kings 112-104

Hungry Memphis

Zopita's on the Square to open Nov. 19

We Saw You

Indie Film Fest, Grilled Cheese Fest, Adapt-A-Door and more!

Hungry Memphis

Little Italy Opening Downtown

News Blog

Seven Vie for Vacant District 1 Council Seat

News Blog

Group of White Women Test Mall’s No Hoodie Policy

Hungry Memphis

The Nine Now Open

Fly On The Wall Blog

What’s Kids in the Hall Co-Founder Kevin McDonald Doing in Memphis?

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Hannah Sayle

  • Recipe for Success

    Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman on their new cookbook, Collards & Carbonara.
    • Aug 29, 2013
  • Midtown Magnetism

    Babalu fills in another Overton Square spot; Muddy’s to open on Cooper.
    • Aug 22, 2013
  • Open House

    The historic Magevney House will soon reopen to the public.
    • Aug 22, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Fifty Shades Freed

    Feature length commercial for luxury goods or chilling glimpse into the post-human future?
    • Feb 16, 2018
  • Death Grip

    Memphis filmmaker Sam Bahre talks about his 11-year struggle to create I Filmed Your Death.
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • The Lost City of Z

    A mesmerizing story of obsession in the Amazon jungle
    • May 1, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation