Tuesday, November 15, 2011

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

     The U.S. film version of Stieg Larsson's phenomenally popular novel "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is coming to a screen near you on Dec. 21. The Swedish film versions of all three of Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy are already out on DVD. Some people are dreading the release.
     When a film is announced of a popular book, fans of the book worry about what indignities will be done to it. And fans of foreign films also worry about how bad an American version will be.This film has both camps worried.
     Hollywood's track record has been pretty bad. While recent films such as "Let Me In" (based on the book and film, previously translated as "Let the Right One In") and "The Ring" were acclaimed as  good and popular adaptations of their book and film sources, there are many others that blew it big time.
     The book's original title was "Man Som Hatar Kvinnor," which translates to "Men who Hate Women," and that is an accurate description of the book. The new title is more likely, I think, to inspire readers to pick it up, and it also places the character of Lisbeth Salander front and center. The actress who played Salander in the Swedish film was excellent, and some fans of the book were distraught at the thought of an American remake with some popular, big-name actress playing the part, despite being all wrong for it. Perhaps for that reason, or for artistic reasons, the filmmakers decided to go with a relative unknown who wouldn't have such baggage.
     The story does feature violence towards women by men who seem to hate women for just being women, and it's not really possible to eliminate it from the film. Fans of the book and previous film, even those who found it hard to read or watch, worry that the new version will tone it down too much to try to make it palatable to a larger audience.
     When Ayn Rand's novel "The Fountainhead" was adapted for film, one character's divorces were eliminated ~ one by her husband's suicide ~ because it was thought she would be less sympathetic otherwise. In the novel "Forrest Gump" ~ yes, it was also a book before it was a movie ~ Gump's girlfriend never marries him, though they do have a child. In the film, not only does she marry him, but she dies after having his child. Why? I presume to atone for her many "sins," at least as the filmmakers or focus groups saw them.
     I hope and expect that the filmmakers will leave ""Dragon Tattoo" relatively unmolested.
Do you have any book-to-film horror stories? Let me know..


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