Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The most poignant and awaited release in film of 2011 has finally arrived. Dripping in an atmospheric gloss, littered with shifty sinister beings and lacking in manners, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo unapologetically shoves anything that might be in its way. Although preconceptions may be that the film has a prickly disposition, its characters prove that above the thorns lies a beautiful rose, in the shape of Salander and Blomkvist’s relationship. It’s hard to put a finger upon what makes their relationship so captivating but it’s interesting how their roles change throughout their emotional journey together. At the start, Salander is reluctant to comply with anything and Blomkvist allows Salander to command him, confounded by the hold she has on him. Although, at the end, Salander warms towards him and it’s clear that she’s learned to love, as she throws the jacket she bought for him into the trash and leaves without hesitance on her motorbike when she sees Blomkvist hand in hand with Erika Berger in the last minute of the film.

The author of the Millennium trilogy, Stieg Larsson, was the Editor-in-Chief of Expo which poses the question as to how fictional Blomkvist really is, especially surrounding the sudden and unexpected death of Larsson soon after he had completed the trilogy. Larsson may not be alive to see his literary vision come to life, not once but twice, but this Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo does the book justice and doesn’t skip out any of the gory details. There has been some dispute as to whether this version was needed, as the Swedish version was only released in 2009. With the lack of attention paid to these films and the iconic role of this cult phenomenon, it was down to David Fincher to be mindful of not only the book, but the previous film. When hearing the name ‘David Fincher’ mentioned in conjunction with any film, there’s no doubt that many would purely flock to the cinema for his legendary directorial work, only a year after the huge success of his last film, The Social Network.

Many have commented that this is a return to where Fincher belongs, in the realms of blood stained dystopia and out of the pretentious head of Mark Zuckerberg, as David Fincher has now eternally portrayed him. Further than the intriguing parameters of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander’s heart warming relationship, there are more heart chilling topics that run throughout the film. Domestic abuse, rape and murder all feature heavily as the Vanger family and the two protagonists follow each other extremely closely. On the opening page of Part One in the novel, it states ‘18% of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man’. Rape and domestic abuse are often avoided by those who have suffered and have had people they know suffer so for a film to be so honest, it’s shocking to read about and even harder to watch.

Most women who are raped often react by hiding, letting the rapist get into their mind and take over their life as they find it difficult to express the agony to those closest to them or even admit to themselves. Lisbeth Salander is not most women. Instead of letting her deranged guardian Bjurman get away with his crime, she tasers him, makes him watch the tape she filmed of him raping her and tattoos ‘I am a rapist pig’ onto his bulging stomach. Even from this alone, it’s easy to judge that Lisbeth is a feminist as she is preventing any women after her from being lured into Bjurman’s sadistic home, whether it be without consent or otherwise. Although she is highly unaware of being remotely feminist, Salander does showcase some feminist ideas and her eyes light up as she suddenly pays attention to Blomkvist’s proposal when he announces ‘I want you to help me catch a killer a women’.

 Her confusing sexual status is a representation of modern sexuality in that she is not specifically ‘bisexual’ but she enjoys the company of both men and women. It’s clear that throughout the film, those who she meets already have these preconceptions about her from the way she dresses; her leather jacket that crinkles with every other move, her jet black jagged hair and her boyish physique. As a top researcher for Milton Security, she goes against expectations with her unappropriate attire as everyone watches her as she strides through the office to meet Dirch Frode. Everyone pays attention to her because she’s not like anyone else involved and Rooney Mara captures this character perfectly as Salander stays unaware of how interesting she is and never realises the power she has, as if she has never even looked in the mirror to see what everyone else sees.

An 18 slot was always going to inevitable for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but that shouldn’t deter and as Daniel Craig has said, ‘It’s a proper adult thriller… for adults’. With expectations of many difficult points in the book being portrayed in a cloudy gauze, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo delivers these uncomfortable points with the potency of a glass of scotch and delivers clarity throughout. As gripping and tense to watch as reading the book itself, Fincher has created yet another masterpiece that is strangely cathartic.  

By Aurora Mitchell

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