Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" © 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc.
The below three images from the set of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” aren’t exactly the kind of pixellated bread crumbs we’d hoped might lead us closer to some palpable impression of what will make David Fincher’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson‘s bestseller better, worse, or different than Niels Arden Oplev‘s Swedish version of Larsson’s novel. Instead, they’re little more than standard-issue movie stills distinguished more for what little they reveal, partially because they’re so gloomily lit, and more ominously because they’re clearly composed to look cool and moody, like a classed-up Heineken ad — a creative tic former commercial and video directors like Fincher and Mark Romanek struggle to shake. Exhibit A: Daniel Craig with the empty glass backlit by warm light, filtered through hanging scrims with the whir of fans and fog overhead. We get it. The world is a dangerous place. But rarely is it so artfully composed. (Check out the pictures up close here.)
Don’t get us wrong. There isn’t the faintest whiff of formulaic thriller in any of these pictures. But we have yet to see anything emerge from this film that stops us dead. We’re still waiting to see something that truly communicates this film’s raison d’etre other than the fact that it’s being made in English and will presumably appeal to those with a subtitle allergy. How will big studio bucks improve upon Oplev’s soot-lensed look at Sweden’s heart of darkness?
Fincher himself offers the most substantial glimpse yet at his take on the material in the interview that accompanies these photos in this week’s edition of Empire. The filmmaker lets slip what he sees as the point of Larsson’s story: “the cultural legacy of denial.” He goes on to talk a bit about how he wants the film to be hard hitting and to spark conversation about real issues. But we’re most intrigued by how he’ll bring that sense of cultural denial to bear in the film and, more importantly, make it resonate with American moviegoers.
It’s not hard to see how denial pervades Sweden’s cultural identity. The shockwaves the Millennium Trilogy created with its depiction of the corruption, violence, and prejudice stood in stark contrast to the country’s image as the platonic ideal of a progressive bastion of tolerance, socialized healthcare, and attractive cheap home furnishings.
It’ll be interesting to see how Fincher’s focus on these themes of artifice and cultural complacency will take shape in the finished film. More importantly, what does this mean for the book’s other more provocative subtextual threads, like the ritual abuse of women or the heredity of hatred. Clearly there’s no shortage of rich and relevant material to play with in Stieg’s sandbox. Hopefully Fincher’s film will be just as hard-hitting in the areas that Larsson thought could most use a little shaking up.
As far as we’re concerned, if Fincher really wants to plumb our darkest depths, he’ll examine Larsson’s original title for the book: Men Who Hate Women. If he dares to go there, he’ll have justified this remake and then some. What are some of the ideas coursing through Larsson’s work you’d most like to see highlighted in the English-language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? What are some of the scenes, ideas, and plot points you would least miss this time around?