The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Why the Swedish film was better… 6

I caught book reviews of the Steig Larsson books a couple of years ago and it caught my interest. Then I learned of the Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara remake of the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film. Finally, I caught the Swedish series’ arrival on Netflix and decided to get a start there, since I have little reading time to dedicate. I went through the entire series on Netflix (the cinema version not the much longer extended ones). Then, last night I finally caught the American remake.

Overall Opinions of both

I enjoyed and had no problems watching the story unfold in subtitles on the original Swedish films. The story may have been a little slow from time to time, but the payoffs were always big enough in the story line. The progression from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to The Girl who Played with Fire to The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest made complete sense and made for a very good story on par with action stories like The Bourne series. I should probably read the books to make and further exploration into which one film version is better, but we all have our favorites. I will focus primarily on things that bothered me in the US version.


The Mohawk

In Lisbeth’s business meeting, she reveals what she has dug up on Mikael Blomkvist. In that meeting she walks in with a Mohawk. In the Swedish version, Lisbeth wears the Mohawk when she dresses up for the final trial in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. There is much more symbolism in saving it for that point than showing her being that radical from the start. The mohawk appears more aggressive in the end of the Swedish films than the US version.

Eye Contact

In the US version, Mara Rooney plays Lisbeth as being more avoiding than asocial or antisocial. She hardly make eye contact with anyone. Noomi Rapace uses it as more of a sign of aggression. This makes Lisbeth appear to be a stronger person.

Mickael had personal ties to Harriet

In the Swedish version, Harriet actually took care of Mickael during a summer and remembers her. It is left out of the US version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

This isn’t James Bond

In the American version, it appears that Mickael is the more dominant than Lisbeth, when the series is really about her. As I said, I don’t know how every piece of the puzzle was solved in the book, but it seems that Mickael seems to figure out a lot more of the mystery on his own. In the Swedish version she hacks his computer and tells him of the Bible verses. In the American version, he figures it out on his own.

Also, instead of Lisbeth believing in Mickael from the start as in the Swedish version, Mickael pushes the case on her. Also in the American version,  Mikael and Lisbeth split up to figure out the cases instead of building a relationship and working together.

The Dragon Tattoo

Swedish Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

Swedish Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

This is a small design thing, but the dragon tattoo in the American version is small and not well seen in the film. The Swedish version has a large dark dragon image that covers half of her back. I believe this is another thing that shows her damaged past. Her past is also not really presented in the American version, where there are at least a few flashbacks or dreams in the Swedish version that set the stage for the following films.

In the End

Lisbeth had the opportunity to save Martin in the Swedish version and doesn’t on her own. There is even a flashback to when she sets her father on fire. In the American version, she asks Mickael if she can kill him, then he dies in an accident without being able to even get close enough to make a conscious decision on the matter.

In the US version, it is Mr. Vanger who has the dirt on Wennerstom, that gets Mickael where he needs to be. In the Swedish version, it is Lisbeth herself that produced the materials. It is also Lisbeth who takes the money and runs. In the American version, it is seen that Mickael is continuing his relationship with his co-worker when it seems that Lisbeth is about to reach out to him with a Christmas present.

All-in-all, I think that the Swedish version tells a better story. The two thing that the American version did win for is the Trent Reznor soundtrack and having Joel Kinnaman from “The Killing” with one line in the film.

What are your thoughts? Which best reflects the book? Leave a comment.

  • Comments are open

  • Comments are open!

  • I’ve seen both American and Swedish versions…and the Swedish one was way much more dark

  • Randy Bowden

    Totally agree, the original swedish version was better in fact loved all three! I think the American re-make was top shelf and well done, certainly had larger budget when it came to distribution!

  • Ross Quintana

    Tough one for me as I did not care for this movie. It wasn’t my style and the part with him sleeping with an unattractive girl as portrayed in the movie while disregarding the woman he was seeing who was sophisticated and better looking was really hard for me to believe there was no build up as to why he would sleep with her so either it is on the floor at editing or not written well. I didn’t read the series.

  • Jesikalh

    Totally disagree. After seeing the American version, I can’t watch the Swedish version anymore. Although Noomi Rapace was strong as lisbeth, I thought Rooney Mara truly captured the essence of Lisbeth as described in the books. Her portrayal of a woman who, after all the pain she’s encountered in life, decides to maintain her emotions as opposed to someone who’s just naturally antisocial was incredible. The moment where she goes into the elevator and waits for the doors to close until she screams always gives me chills. And Michael nyquist as the ladies’ man Mikael Blomkvist?!! Hardly. I don’t find Daniel Craig all the appealing, but he has a charm that Nyquist completely lacks. I realize the change in ending plot points really upset the book loyalists, but I didn’t think it detracted from the film. Can’t wait for them to make the next one, if it ever gets green-lit!!