Swedish ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Director Criticizes English-Language Version

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 1:09 am,

A Hollywood remake is very much a tricky proposition when the original product was both critically-acclaimed and did solid business at the worldwide box office – such is the case with David Fincher’s English-language adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Niels Arden Oplev directed the Swedish cinematic adaptation of the late Stieg Larsson’s hit novel and has now spoken out a bit about Fincher’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which is technically not a remake of Oplev’s film but a separate take on Larsson’s source material.

Fincher’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is being penned by Oscar-winner Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List), who has insisted that his screenplay is based solely on Larsson’s original novel and that he has no plans to even watch Oplev’s adaptation. That has not prevented most media outlets from referring to the project as an American remake and – judging from his interview with Word & Film - Oplev is also under the same (mistaken) impression. The Danish filmmaker has not flat-out denounced Fincher’s movie, but he seems less than enthused about the whole endeavor.

Here’s the quote from Oplev about the new Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film:

“Even in Hollywood there seems to be a kind of anger about the remake, like, ‘Why would they remake something when they can just go see the original?’ Everybody who loves film will go see the original one. It’s like, what do you want to see, the French version of “La Femme Nikita” or the American one? You can hope that Fincher does a better job.”

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo original Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Director Criticizes English Language Version

Still frame from Oplev’s ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’.

Oplev’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was an engagingly dark and gritty neo-Noir that revolved primarily around the titular gal, punk-goth computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). While Fincher is universally acknowledged as a technically precise and meticulous filmmaker, his take on Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will inevitably be compared its Swedish counterpart, for better or for worse.

Rapace’s intense performance as the brilliant but haunted Salander has earned the actress numerous accolades and very much assisted her in snagging the female lead role in Sherlock Holmes 2. Oplev feels that Rapace very much deserves an Oscar nomination for the role (a sentiment we share), and despite the potential of actress Rooney Mara playing Salander in Fincher’s version, a lot of moviegoers that saw Oplev’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will (and do) consider it blasphemy that another actress has been cast in the part.

hollywood wants Noomi Rapace1 Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Director Criticizes English Language Version

Noomi Rapace in ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’.

While Oplev’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo grossed nearly $200 million in theaters worldwide, it only did about $10 million in ticket sales at the U.S. box office. Fincher’s version could very well make that same amount (and more) on its first day of release in theaters. Larsson’s Millennium trilogy has been a best-seller here in the States for awhile now and Fincher has a loyal cult following of his own, so his Girl With the Dragon Tattoo should be far more financially successful than another recent English-language take on a popular Swedish book-turned-movie, Let Me In.

We hope that Fincher’s movie turns out well and that it encourages those who missed Oplev’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to give the Swedish film a try. But do we really need or want a Hollywood interpretation of this story, regardless of the talent behind it? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Source: Word & Film (via THR)

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  1. I am not going to spend a penny on the American one!!! I saw the three original versions and I enjoyed them and the superb acting of Noomi, love her!

    • i am American but I have watched the original one so many times probably over 50 times – all trilogy – just obsessed by the movie. It was not a movie but reality that i felt so real because it was extremely well done in many ways – I think that American version is a mistake to show their pride hollywood can make anything with money power but it failed. Especially, i don’t think that they chose a right Salander. Rooney is pretty but too weak. She seems to try hard though. They had to choose someone with charisma and depth of acting for this difficult and unique role. American verision is still Holllywood made movie so they still focus on LOOK – nice look.
      It is why Swedish version is much better as it is just so natural. I can focus on what Salander is doing not how she look for example.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with you. The Swedish version was far better, and I also agree with your assessment of American film remakes of foreign films. They (US) concentrate on being too damn pretty. Give me a good foreign film every time where the men and women have a little wear on them. Attractive, yes, but still a little worn. That is way, way more appealing to me. Value is not based on appearance, but on what’s in the mind in good foreign films. Obviously there are exceptions, i.e. the whole range of Emanuelle Beart films, and also those with Sophie Marceau. Still girls in foreign films get tousled and look more natural too. Unshaven faces, and wrinkled clothes were more common (on MEN, not women) in foreign films too. Much better to watch. There are fewer action films that are pyrotechnic based in foreign films also. They’re more character driven.

        by the way, I like the six part (9 hour) version of the Millennium trilogy, better than the 3 single films. The extra content is worth while.

  2. I must agree I would not pay to see the Hollywood version would I watch it for free yes with that being said as an american I feel that most of us are just to lazy or to a.d.d. to read the subtitles shame on us

    • It doesn’t take energy to read. We just ASSUME we won’t like it.

  3. The American version is poorly done. Lisbeth is not portrayed well. Casting Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara was a big mistake. They just don’t come close to the Swedish performances of their characters. I am also a great fan of Noomi Rapace. Most of all the American version is disjointed and the characters are engaged in activities that are not clearly explained. The Americans should leave it alone. Watch the Swedish versions and read the books. The difference is astonishing.

  4. Yeah, so I watched the Swedish trilogy and thought they were great. I watched them all over the course of 2 days. Noomi was great, the movies were true to the books and while the 2nd book was not quite as beefy as the first and last (the same with the movies), it was still brilliant and overall a pleasure to read. I felt the Swedish films were too.

    Then I watched the American version. Oi vey. Not true to the book. Daniel Craig is stiff (as always) and while the Lisbeth character wasn’t bad, she wasn’t nearly as good as Noomi’s. All American films have a little less “grit”.. our culture is so watered down.. you know, every kid gets a trophy if they show up for little league games… and I really felt it in this movie.

    Had I not seen the Swedish version, I might not have been so bothered by the little deviations from the book and I wouldn’t have said it was bad, but it still wouldn’t have landed on my favorite movies list, if you know what I mean. The Swedish ones did.

    I say, don’t bother with the American version. It’s the version for lazy Americans who don’t read(subtitles).

    And I gotta say, dang, I wish I had Lisbeth’s skills.

  5. I am one of those who was appalled when an American version of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo came out. Michael Nyquist was Mykael…not Daniel Craig. I read all three books and saw all three Swedish movies. Some Americans in their narrow mindedness do not like to read subtitles. I am sorry for them because the Swedish versions were the very busy …the words dark etal are a matter of opinion but necessary I guess for those who are easily turned off.
    I totally enjoyed Daniel Craig in Defiance…an underrated movie based on a true story and he is very good as James Bond.
    To go further why is it stars have to be cast according to what? their popularity? Now comes Jack Reacher a man of at least 6 ft. 5 inches and a build to match who has knocked around a LOT…played by Tom Cruise. I will not see this movie either…just keep reading Lee Child’s books.

  6. Hmm. Well to be honest I came into the whole series unbiased. I had read the first book then watched the American version. I thought the actors were well chosen. I felt that Craig played Mikael very well, as the book described him. I disliked Nyqvist performance, he had no real genuine charm to to the character. I thought Mara was a able to project the Salanders behavior well. It was more emotionally disconnected with some sizzle and I thought Rapace’s performance was a little to “hot headed”. Like Rapace just looked like she was butt hurt in the whole damn movie(no pun intended). WHY I like the American version because it portrayed the book very close minus the ending(which I could live with). Just everything about it was well rounded. But all in all what I really love is the books. THERE JUST SO DAMN GOOD!

  7. In no way shape or form was the original better. It felt sanitize. No powerful scenes that stick with you. Nothing really haunting or moving. I know to seem intelligent people have to say the original is better but it really barely registers a heart beat.

  8. Watched all 3 in Sweedish. Casting was perfect. No need for a us version if you can read.

  9. I guess this is probably old news. I’ve been reading up on the movies etc… though because I really wish there was a 4th. It feels so unfinished.

    Anyway, in response to this article though as a person who has read all of the books as well as seeing all of the Swedish films and the American one I really feel like both of the movies have something to offer.

    The Swedish films were amazing. The American film is also amazing though. Though both miss the mark in my opinion but together they both get more things right. In the Swedish films I feel an upset with certain things like how Mikael is always in Lisbeth’s business. The reason that Lisbeth liked Mikael was because he wasn’t. He didn’t demand anything of her and seemed to understand her a bit better than others. So I have frustration that Mikael’s character in the Swedish films is nosey. The American film I feel does a lot better job with Mikael’s personality and brings him to life better. Though in the American film I find myself frustrated that Lisbeth is visiting Hulga before her long trip. It sounds like a minor thing but part of understanding Lisbeth and connecting with her is the knowledge that she leaves all of her friends behind without so much as a goodbye for more than a year. That she walks away from Hulga without even looking back because the doctors said that they didn’t believe he’d come out of the Coma.

    Those are really just the tip of the iceberg. I feel like they both fall short of truly capturing the characters of Mikael and Lisbeth both. Both of the movies have some really amazing things that they brought to life that I feel couldn’t have been done any better. In the American film in Martin’s dungeon I feel like that was totally amazing. I just can’t imagine it being any better. Though I was particularly frustrated that Lisbeth asked if she could kill him and Mikael said yes. Mikael would never say that. I also adore the scene where Mikael goes to meet Lisbeth for the first time and just basically takes over her house ignoring her. That was totally perfect, except of course he didn’t bring her the bagel choice. I feel like the swedish film royally messed that meeting up.

    Really too many things to mention but the point of it all being, if someone had asked me if an American film should be made (Before it was made) I would have said no. That the Swedish films were great and I see no reason to do that. Now that it has been made though I really like it and I’m glad that they did it because it brought more life and magic to the books. They both definitely have something to offer and the actors in both were great. Noomi is without a doubt my favorite Lisbeth however, I do think at times the American Lisbeth did a better job looking devoid of feelings. As far as Mikael goes I honestly don’t see either of them as a perfect Mikael but I believe I like them both equally. The Swedish Mikael I feel like he had the right aura and demeanor but wasn’t perfect because he didn’t quite meet the look and the writers made him so nosey. The American Mikael had great attitude and stayed out of her business but seemed almost too pushy and had too much energy for the Mikael that I read about.

    Rapace is edgier, darker and moire bruised. She never comes near crying because she is so damaged. Mara was okay–but just okay. I never felt the depth of damage and isolation that Rapace gave us. Nyquist was excellent: a comforatble, ordinary “normal”middle-aged guy whose relationship with Rapace’s Lisbeth weas at turns amusing, bittersweet and incredibly tight. IT is clear he feels some kind of love for her; but she is soooo out of his realm that he cannot quite place his feelings.

    • IMHO The Swedish version was superior, despite slight departures from the original material. Daniel Craig and Robin Wright were simply miscast as Bloomquist and Berger; neither touched Nyquist or Endre; Mara was ok; a little timid and less angry than Rapace’s (again imho superior) performance as Lizbeth. Plummer was good as Venger, but frankly, Taub was more convincing; the Swedish production felt colder, as well :D I normally like Fincher movies; he’s better when not doing something someone else already did well.

  11. The focal point of the first instalment’s title – the dragon tattoo – leads me to consider that comparison or contrast important.

    The tattoo in the US version is far better, more aesthetically pleasing, truer to character.