I remember when I first heard of Blu-ray. "I don't get it? It's just a DVD with 'better quality'? Why's that necessary? DVDs look great. Are there any new features? Not really? So it's the same movie, with slightly 'better quality', and no new, cool features? Okay... Yeah. Eff Blu-ray."
Then I saw a Blu-ray on an LED TV. It was beautiful. Now all I buy is Blu-ray.
Either way, DVD or Blu-ray, you get to watch the movie. So maybe you're all for DVDs. They're cheaper now. And still look good. But I am, if you haven't been able to tell, an elitist, and prefer the superior picture.
Director: David Fincher
Main Guy: Daniel Craig
Lisbeth Salander: Rooney Mara
Old guy that hires Craig: Christopher Plummer
Nephew of Plummer: Stellan Skarsgard
Assistant to Plummer: Dirch Frode
Craig's co-worker and "girlfriend": Robin Wright
Rapist pig: Yorick van Wageningen
I'm sure you already know where I'm going with the introduction. The title of the piece definitely gave away the point.
Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is of absolute higher quality to the 2009 Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo .
We could pick the two apart. Shot selection. Editing. Pacing. Acting. But there's plenty of conversation about that already.
The giant argument surrounding this film is: why was it made to begin with? If the Swedish version was solid, portrayed the story, and had a stellar performance by Noomi Rapace, why remake it?
There are two pertinent ways to frame and respond to this question.
From the consumer perspective: why buy DVD instead of Blu-ray?
From the artistic perspective: if you see something and think you can do it better and have the opportunity to do it better, would you?
The 2009 movie was good. But it was a lower budget ($13 million compared to Fincher's $100 million). Had common shot selection, which led to virtually/absolutely zero thematic infusion to the direction, and EVERYONE was subsumed by Noomi Rapace. She was obviously the strongest actor in the cast. And she was the strongest character. Which isn't a bad thing. She was wonderful.
But the 2011 movie is excellent. While the plot is ostensibly the same, and people think it's the same movie, there are thematics in the shots and framing and editing that either aren't evident or don't exist in the 2009 film. (And no, this isn't the "meditation on good and evil" some reviewers mention; it has to do with relationships/isolation/destiny (all contained in the cross-cutting and development of Craig and Mara) and, in the case of Mara, a revelation of fears and internal scars (for instance, the scene where the camera is pulling away from the door behind which Mara is being raped, then we're in the room (one second, two), then back into the hallway (one, second, two, three, four, five), then back into the room (for the remainder of the scene)--is, in essence, showing us the internal world of Salander, who has been a victim of men of authority all of her life, and this rape is the wound that's festering in her soul--in other words: the scene is thematically pivotal, simply because Fincher chooses to show us the door more than once.)).
I often say there's a difference between the passive and the active viewer. Most passive viewers won't see a difference between the movies, or they won't care. Active viewers will. There's more to chew on in Fincher's version. (Just look at the pictures at the top. The 2009 movie poster has Rapace, cliche suits of armor in a cliche gloomy room, with a cliche portrait hanging above, and fire behind Rapace's head (SHE'S FIERY!!! GET IT!?!?!). The 2011 poster is layered, ghostly, physicalizes the connection between the mystery, Craig's character, and Mara's Lisbeth, is artsy).
So, yeah, alright, if you watch a movie on DVD and the same movie on Blu-ray, it's the same movie. But the Blu-ray will, if you have the proper equipment, look better and sound better. Which means that, on a superficial level, the Blu-ray provides a better viewing experience. And that's what Fincher's film does. It providers a better sounding and better looking film. But this is where the metaphor ends. Because Fincher's film is deeper. It is, thematically, an entirely different picture. Which, in my mind, as a consumer and a devourer of art, makes the new film preferable and worthwhile.
(And it's fine if you prefer the 2009 version to the 2011 version. I'm not making an argument against your personal preference or why you like the Swedish version. But: if we're going to debate which movie is better, about whether there is a difference, etc.: the 2011 version is superior. If you'd like to write an inquiry arguing in favor of the Swedish version, contact the office secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Did I Like It:
Yes. I'd say it's in my top five of the year. It's a different viewing experience from Hugo, but I would go as far to say that it's up there with Hugo.
Since it had been over a year since my original viewing, I skimmed through the Swedish one after watching Fincher's,and actually found the Swedish one sort of silly (I liked it a lot the first time, in 2010). I felt the Swedish characters were characters. And Fincher's characters were people. I felt like I was in a world (Fincher's version) rather than watching the adaptation of a not-so-well-written book (Swedish version).
In that same vein, Rapace was great as Lisbeth the character. Fiery, supercharged, a force. But I thought Mara was someone named Lisbeth Salander. Scared and strong; human.
I like that Fincher's version has several instances of "The Dragon". She lets loose several primal screams and you can't help but think of the title, of the word dragon, during these moments. I like this. Especially when you compare the darkness from the opening credit sequence to the mise-en-scene of the final scene. It's like the movie has, in a way, come full circle.
I'm pretty pleased with this movie. I'd go so far as to say that it's like The Silence of the Lambs mixed with Stanley Kubrick. If Lambs was nominated for Best Picture, this should be too. And if Jodie Foster won best actress, Mara should too. I'm convinced of this. Fuck Moneyball. If Moneyball receives a nomination and this doesn't, I'll be unhappy. But, hey, it took Fight Club five or so years to receive the level of acclaim it deserved.
What It's Good For:
-an adaptation of the book
-earning its R-rating
-seeing Daniel Craig be the man
-Rooney Mara naked
-Silence of the Lambs comparisons
-reminding me of Kubrick
-some graphic visuals can bother people
-rape scene will freak people out
-the cat is killed :-(
-if a 2 hour and 38 minute film is way too long for you to sit in a theater, like if you have bad blood pressure or something (the movie doesn't feel like 158 minutes; at least I never felt bored, and many others have reported the film having a quick pace)
-if the naked human body DISGUSTS you
-if anyone watches this thinking there will be dragons
% Character / % Actor's personality
Mara: 200/0 (outstanding)
Fincher: Fight Club; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Social Network; Seven
Craig: Casino Royale; Dream House
Mara: The Social Network
Plummer: The Last Station; The New World;
Skarsgard: Good Will Hunting; Deep Blue Sea; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest; PotC: At World's End; Thor
Rocking Remakes: The Departed; Dawn of the Dead; Heaven Can Wait; A Fistful of Dollars; The Fly