The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: a different kind of Christmas movie

“The feel bad movie of Christmas” arrives soon at a theater near you.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” the crime novel by the late Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, gets the Hollywood treatment when an American version of the film is released this month. The novel and the two sequels that followed sold over 14 million copies in the U.S. alone and were adapted into a trio of highly successful Swedish films. But will Lisbeth Salander, the alternative and violent heroine of Larsson’s books, find acceptance from American audiences?

“Lisbeth Salander is an incredible and fierce character,” junior Nicole Lippey said. “Every woman should strive to have a little bit of Salander in her.”

Salander is not your typical protagonist. Having grown up as a ward of the state and repeatedly sexually abused, she is quiet and menacing, yet unbelievably bright and skilled in research and computer hacking. She has multiple tattoos and piercings, and her story is not a happy one.

Directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club”) and starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, the film begins with a wealthy old businessman, Henrik Vanger, who is desperate to solve a murder that occurred over 50 years ago. Vanger hires a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, to look into the case and try to solve what the police could not: Was Harriet Vanger killed? If so, who did it and what happened to the body? While Blomkvist works to solve the decades-old case with the help of Salander, the two find themselves investigating horrible suspects and uncovering evidence of terrible crimes.

“I think we’re used to violence in movies,” junior Samantha Gavares said, adding that she didn’t think “Dragon Tattoo” was any more violent than your average Hollywood crime film. “It’s normal for American audiences. I feel like it wouldn’t hold anyone’s attention if it wasn’t violent.”

Dr. Christopher Sharrett, a professor of film studies in the department of communication and the arts, said he expected the U.S. remake to have “perhaps more flash and gore” than the Swedish original.

“The involvement of David Fincher, who has gained status since ‘Fight Club’ as an auteur of the New Hollywood, may give this film more credibility,” Sharrett said. “But the saturation marketing may suggest that the studio doesn’t have great confidence in the film – or that they want to ensure it as an unlikely holiday film.”

The film made headlines and raised eyebrows when a poster depicting Craig with his arms around a topless Mara was released. Film critic David Denby of the New Yorker called the film a “bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking; it offers a glancing, chilled view of a world in which brief moments of loyalty flicker between repeated acts of betrayal.”

Despite the violent themes, American viewers seem poised to enjoy the anti-holiday film.

“I can only hope that the movie is just as thrilling as the books,” Lippey said.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” opens in theaters nationwide Dec. 21.

Erin Bell can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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