BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

« Previous | Main | Next »

Too Many Tattoos?

Post categories:

Mark Kermode | 10:04 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has been made twice - once in Swedish and once in the English language.

The Hollywood remake has had a favourable reception but what does the box office tell us about the two films?

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructionsIf you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit Mark's blog to view the video.

 

Mark's reviews on 5 live
Take your pick from Mark's A-Z

Hear Mark Kermode review the week's new films every Friday from 2pm on BBC Radio 5 live. Kermode & Mayo's Film Review is also available as a free podcast to download and keep.

 

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    I do not see what all this problem is with reading subtitles, I have never had any problems doing so when watching foreign films and still managing to follow the action. In fact I find it very hard to watch something like Jackie Chan films dubbed into English because it just does not match up (although I understand that dubbing chinese films into any other language is extremely difficult when it comes to synching). When I lived in Spain I was fine watching all my foreign films dubbed (as there is a big dubbing academy in Spain), however, after having spent fourteen years living in England I find it impossible to watch a foreign film dubbed into Spanish as what the lips are saying and what I am hearing no longer match up. If English or Spanish is not the language they were originally filmed in, give me subtitles everytime.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's true that subtitles are distracting, but not as much as over-dubbing, in my opinion.

    I've now seen both versions of TGWTDG in the last few weeks, both have their merits, but I did prefer the original.

    Maybe I'm attuned to the Scandanavian eye on the world, especially as a fan of the original Wallander series, The Killing, and Flammen & Citronen on TV the other night.

    I'm happy for remakes to be produced, even if the original was well received. Each version can live or die on its own merits.

  • Comment number 3.

    The Yanks can handle subtitles when it suits them - i.e. Trainspotting. And with all the mumbling and half-whispering that goes on in US movies & TV shows these days, the subtitles option on a DVD is essential (without them, The Wire might as well be in Klingon).

  • Comment number 4.

    Fincher's biggest grossing film is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Box office means nothing.

  • Comment number 5.

    I disagree Dr. K. Having seen both versions and read the book, I think the Fincher version is the better. True Noomi Rapace gave the better performance and Rooney Mara's Oscar nomination is farce (especially at the expense of Tilda Swinton) but I think that Fincher's version did add something. I have agreed in the past that English language remakes are rarely ever up their foreign counterpart's standard but in this case I disagree.
    I thought Fincher's version was more coherent and bar Noomi's, had better performances all round (even Julian Sands).
    A big thing that has also annoyed me is the lack of praise for Daniel Craig. Not being a big Daniel Craig fan, i have warmed to him over the last few years and I think this is one, if not the best performance of his career so far.
    Fincher's films have rarely had mainstream box office appeal (look at Fight Club, The Game and Zodiac), that doesn't mean they are not great films. I am big Fincher fan and want him to finish the series because as we know, the Swedish series got weaker as they went along.

  • Comment number 6.

    I almost always think remakes are unnecessary unless they do something radically different with the source material (as with Carpenter's "The Thing", Cronenberg's "The Fly" and Hawks' "His Girl Friday"). I haven't seen the Fincher version of Girl and, frankly, aren't that interested in doing so as i loved the Swedish version so much and thought it was such a perfect adaptation, that I feel it would be an insult to the filmmakers to give money to what is essentially a copy with a different language. I think there has to be a genuine artistic reason for remaking a film, and can much more understand people remaking bad films, or B-movies, rather than just photocopying a film in a different language.

    The only english language remake that I prefer to the original is Chris Nolan's "Insomnia", which I felt was a tighter, more focussed and better made than the original, though I still liked the original.

    I don't think the problem is necessarily subtitles though, but rather promotion. Take the example of Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds". I never heard anyone complain that a good portion of the film is subtitled. People still went to see it because it was well marketed, highly anticipated and

    Fincher's movie had wall to wall trailers, posters and video bits from months before it was complete (including the awesome Zeppelin infused trailer you alluded to with your credits) whereas the Swedish version I didn't even know had been made until I read about it in "Empire", wasn't on anywhere near me and, as such, only found its feet on DVD.

    Most people don't read film magazines or pay that much attention to critics (much as it pains me to say), but hear about films via trailers, posters on the sides of buses etc. and as a result are often totally unaware what foreign films are out there for their delectation. Unless some massive studio gets behind them and promotes them accordingly, I don't see foreign films making much headway among those of us who aren't serious cinephiles.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well, I think you hit the nail on the head with the film being re-done in "American". It is, as near as makes no difference, an adaptation made solely for the American market (as proven by the market specific figures, i.e. American vs international). The Americans are the ones who need to start reading subtitles. The reason for their unwillingness to do so is a discussion for another time (although their *ahem* world view and perception of themselves might have something to do with it).

    The point goes beyond sutbtitles though. If you compare the two movies, the Swedish and American, you can spot a different view on women. The original Lisbeth Salander is stronger and nowhere near as depending on the Mikael Blomqvist character. For example, in the original sex scene between the two, she is on top and in charge. In the American version, he is (or ends up anyway).

    In other words, an adaptation for the American market goes beyond subtitles. For that to change, the Americans will have to embrace opinions and values different from theirs and we all know how that normally plays out..

  • Comment number 8.

    Alot of these types of films do hugely well when they get released for sale/ rental. I expect that's where it'll make a large portion of it's cash.

    You talk about the original film doing very well at the box office but are you including it's rental and sales in that hundred odd million? I mean, how widespread was it's cimematic release anyway?

    In all honesty I'd never ever go to see a subtitled film at the flicks ever again. I've seen two subbed films and they were horrible experiences. Somebodies head will ruin a film like this because you can't read through a big bonce. But a head won't usually ever be an issue as the general focus of a film is the center of the screen.

  • Comment number 9.

    We absolutely do have to grow up over this issue of subtitles - I watch at least as many films with subtitles as without - If not I would be missing out on a some of the greatest film ever made -
    I feel sorry for all those people who will never experience the many treasures of world cinema because of their prejudice -

  • Comment number 10.

    *^ In an English language film I mean.

  • Comment number 11.

    As much as I want to go with your argument here, and I agree with your conclusion, I have to point out that there's a weakness in your assumption that the Scandinavian original played with subtitles and soundtrack intact everywhere, it is very likely that it may have been dubbed for certain markets. In some places, such as Paris, it is not unusual to find simultaneous release of films in VO (version original with French subtitles) and VF (version francaise, dubbed). Some Studio Ghibli films have enjoyed both subtitled and dubbed versions released here, although phoning your local cinema and asking "sub or dub?" may make them think you have different predilections entirely.

    On the plus side, I think that it's clear that the original of Girl... has trumped the international box office of the redo, if neither Swedish or English are your first languages, why see the same story again? The Japan horror blip to the contrary can be explained by the fan behaviour there which would most probably want to see the Americanized versions as much as repeat view their native product.

    As for language barriers, I once went to see a screening of Barry Lyndon in Brussels. Looking forward to re-viewing the stunning images that carry the problematic storytelling, only to find (silly me) that the screen was covered in two sets of subtitles, French and Flemish. How I wish Kubrick had reserved his ire to throw a wobbly at that print, rather than at the Scala cinema for screening Clockwork.

    My brother lived for some time in Gabarone Botswana and film going was interesting there as the international and multi tribal community meant loud simultaneous translations by friends for friends throughout. Someday they'll genetically engineer the Babelfish.

    The Girl...'s American remake's under-performance may have halted production on the French language version by Jean-Pierre Jeunet: The Girl with the Audrey Tautou.

    Kidding aside, Mark Cousins History of Film recently pointed out a number of noir classics, including Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street, began as remakes of continental fare. The remake question can be done to death, but it always comes down to is it a good movie or not (regardless of source material from whatever previous format or language)?

  • Comment number 12.

    So Mark did you read the book in Swedish? I didn't think so, Translation isn't a bad thing, it allows better access to, and fuller involvement in, the story.

    And of course by "The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" we mean "Men who hate Women" which is what the book is actually called in Swedish.

  • Comment number 13.

    Normally I am not a big fan of remakes – unless they add something to the picture. One of the big exceptions, in my view, is the Dutch remake of “Love, actually” under the (literally) lovely titel “Alles is liefde”. They took the concept of “Love, actually”, but gave it a very Dutch touch. Add to this a wonderful script with hilariously funny scenes and a set of fabulous actors (including the delightful Carice van Houten) and this is the ultimate feel-good-movie.

    I don't think it is very well known outside the Netherlands but would deserve some international attention (although some things might be lost in translation). And it would be on the top of my list regarding successful remakes with a twist.

    http://fridamagda.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 14.

    "So Mark did you read the book in Swedish? I didn't think so."

    There it is.

    I'd also like to point out (and be controversial), Rooney Mara's Oscar nomination is completely deserved and a better, more accurate portrayal of the Lisbeth Salander in the book. The character works better with an actress who doesn't look like she could kick your head in. Mara's performance is all about the fact that despite being very head strong and wilful she is vulnerable, she also displays an array of emotions rather than just moody, which makes the character more sympathetic.

    In this film we are invited to see the film through the eyes of her, whilst in the original, because the character was so difficult, we found comfort in Blomkvist. Which isn't supposed to be the case.

    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) is incomparable in terms of box office to the original because it has only been out for a month. It hasn't appeared in different territories yet and has yet to come out on DVD, so to say the original has been a bigger hit comparatively is kind of bogus.

  • Comment number 15.

    While I do think Fincher's version is subtly better, filming, streamlining of the story etc, I was not going to ever touch a remake of them because I thought the American money would want the story scrubbed down.

    He didn't do that and that means people have seen this one, will go an see the next two (if they get made) and actually get the things the books talk about to a broader audience. I can't see that as anything but a good thing.

    Your general point is valid, remaking something simply to get rid of subtitles weird and pointless, but then I have 600 wpm reading speed (no, not even close to the really fast people)

  • Comment number 16.

    Makr, I would like to defend people who do not like subtitles. I, myself have no problem with subtitles and have no problem watching subtitled films. However my mum has a really problem, she says she can't keep up with the subtitles and gets confused by it. I think that dubbing a film could help people like my mum who can't read the subtitles quick enough. Why not have a dubbing option open by headphones set that would come free or you are told to bring headphones with you a not to inconvience other patrons. Yes while I think we should watch subtitles people like my mum can't so how are they goioing to watch films like the Girl with the dragon tattoo.

  • Comment number 17.

    I, like most people; do not have have a problem with subtitles, in fact I would say to an extent they help to make a film more immersive. I do understand why some people would not want to sit through a film whilst reading, and that is fair enough, however I didn't see the Sweedish version until it was released on Blu-Ray; where the first time the movie played, it was not subtitled, but dubbed in English. For the sake of catering to those who prefer to listen to dialog, surely an international release of this version would of been more beneficial to distributors than spending millions of dollars on an entire remake. It worked for 70s kung-fu movies, and their dubbing was awful.

  • Comment number 18.

    Subtitles? What subtitles? If it is a good movie, I barely notice them at all. I don't think vast majority of remakes are necessary. I don’t understand why Let the Right One In was remade, for example. The original was terrific. Go see the original, it will most likely be better.

    AndyGoth was talking about book translations, and how it was translated to English for better access. Surely this what subtitles and dubbing does. The issue here is remaking the movie. Does anyone rewrite books? Not normally.

  • Comment number 19.

    Dr K I am shocked - since when is box office an indication of the worth of anything?

    on the subject - if hollywood wants to waste time and money remaking perfectly good films that will clutter up the listings at the local world of cine so what?

    as long as we have strong independent cinemas where people that care can get to see the originals (in original language with subtitles) I don't see a problem.

    there's no need to legislate on what other people are allowed to enjoy/dislike.

  • Comment number 20.

    While I can't comment about which performance is "better", as subjective as that is, I believe Will Chadwick is completely correct in two very clear points.

    I have a swedish (ex)girlfrend who has read all three books and she favors the US version over the original. Her impression was that Rooney Mara's portrayal was "much more believable". Not being able to read Swedish myself, I can only trust and believe her (a revelation which apparently came too late. Bah-dum-bum.)

    This seems uncharacteristic of Mark—defining a "successful translation" by how large a box-office success it has been generally isn't how Dr Quiff, Medicine Man lines up his films. I never though "box-office success" would be the determining factor in his decision-making process, so I find this an odd and forced argument. Especially odd when he decides to call the race early, before DVD sales are factored in.

    Perhaps it's not enough that one movie is allowed to succeed.
    Perhaps it's that one has to lose.

  • Comment number 21.

    Generally I don't very much like English or American remakes of films, but I think it is important to draw a line between films made purely to cash in on the original in other America, and ones made as this one was, purely because the creators liked the book, and wanted to make a film of it. As a massive fan of the books (and having seen both films), Fincher's film is closer to the book, and I think overall it is a better adaption. Mark's problems with the films (most notably the violence) are a key part of the books, and an ingrained part of the story and plot. In fact the books are much more graphic.

    While I do very much like Noomi Rapace's performance, and I think she's a very talented actress, I think Mara is a better Lisbeth, and well deserving of her awards.

    In the end though, if a film is made for purely artistic reasons, when is the box office ever a measure of success?

  • Comment number 22.

    I have not ever had (and hopefully will not ever have) a problem with subtitled movies. Watching a film in it's native language is surely the only way to see it in it's truest sense.

    Let the Right One In is one of my favourite films from the last few years, I would never consider watching a dubbed version, and have completely written off watching Let Me In. Maybe I'm being stubborn, but I only feel a viewing of the remake would hamper my love and appreciation of the original movie.

    Another example is that of Manga films. Whenever I watch Akira on DVD I choose the original Japanese version with subtitles over the (adequately) dubbed American version. The viewing experience is just superior. These are the voices of the characters as they were meant to be.

  • Comment number 23.

    I find remakes of films based on literature far more acceptable than remakes of existing films (or re-filming screenplays). With remakes of books, it's interesting to see a Writer/Director's different interpretation of that particular work, to see how they imagine visuals, dialogue, character growth and interaction. In these cases, remakes can bring something fresh to the original film, or even improve upon the original attempt. They can of course, also be utter dross.

    However, I'm generally deeply averse to remakes of just films (or, screenplays), especially scene-for-scene copies, whether they be remakes of foreign language films (Ringu/The Ring, [REC]/Quarantine, and so on), or older films from the same country and originally made in the same language (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street). In fact, I'm really struggling to think of any examples where the remake was an improvement over the original in this case.

    As far as subtitles are concerned, I have no problem. I love films, and want to see them as the director intended - language included. I'm loath to watch an English-dubbed film, let alone an English language remake.

  • Comment number 24.

    Why does any discussion of remakes boil down to one being better than the other or authentic versus counterfeit? Certainly, studios pick films to remake in an effort to make a profit and thinking about the reasons for the relative critical and box office success of the "original" and the "remake" are interesting questions to think about, but using those details as a critical tool in analyzing whether one is better than the other seems pretty silly. In fact, the continual reduction of the remake discussion to a "better or worse than" argument is just lazy. Let Me In, Brothers, The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo are all interesting films, both independently of their originals, and also where the two film's intersection show some amount of difference.

  • Comment number 25.

    Sometimes I have to watch films in my room during the night with the volume down due to either my parents sleeping next door or if my girlfriend is asleep next to me and so I use the subtitles and this is in English Language films and I find that I take in the story easier sometimes when I am reading the words of the script. Things I missed before or didn't quite take in previously, I get to read through the subtitles and for me sometimes improves my understanding of the film.

    Now I know that is slightly off from foreign subtitled films but the same thing applies...if anything I enjoy the story more as I am reading the script as well as watching the visual representation and some of my favourite films are not in the English Language. Pan's Labyrinth, Amelie, The Millennium trilogy and especially Let the Right One In (which is another film that has suffered the same remake fate as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).

    The one thing I hate hearing is 'I hate reading subtitles' but if I find it rather involving to read the subtitles and so I cannot understand why it does not do this for other people. I mean, if they are reading the story, then they should be as well informed as I am and should therefore be completely happy it is literally being spelled out for them.

    As for the remaking purposes in America, I think it is as simple as this...they think that their own audiences are stupid and are probably right in thinking so. And in being stupid, they can make money off of selling a film to them that hasn't had to have been created first hand which is easier. However as has been proved by you Mark is that sometimes it doesn't work out that way but they don't think that far ahead and arrogance plays another big part in their decision to remake these films. They think they are at the forefront of the movie business (and in terms of money, yes, they are) but in thinking this, they believe they have a right to show the film world they think they lead their own 'American' version of already great films.

    It just comes down to immature, spoon fed audiences, money and arrogance. Plain and simple.

  • Comment number 26.

    There are a lot of good reasons to remake a film. But even more bad reasons.

    "Meet Joe Black" was a good update of "Death Takes a Holiday". "The Magnificent Seven" introduced "Seven Samuari" to an audience which would otherwise never have heard of it. The 70s version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is a sufficiently different take from the 60s version that both can stand on their own. Ditto for the Goldblum version of "The Fly". "Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory" is a text complex enough to support multiple film interpretations.

    The versions of "Victor/Victoria" and "Scarface" which we know actually are remakes.

    But the two(!) remakes of "Casablanca", Nick Cage (Oh No!) in "Wicker Man", and those utterly pointless remakes of "Rocky Horror" and "Get Carter". Like Michael Cain said, if you're going to remake a movie, remake one that wasn't great the first time...

    ...or one such that (a) the central idea is big enough to support a whole new interpretation and (b) You're good enough to do the reinterpretation.

    The remakes of "Stepford Wives" and "The Ladykillers" tried to add something new, and did. It just wasn't anything good. "Posidon" and the 2001 "Italian Job" didn't even try to add anything. The shot-by-shot remake of "Psycho" was the very definition of pointless.

    As for subtitles, I have yet to meet anyone who's a genuine film fan and also a hater of subtitles. Or indeed, anyone with opinions worth hearing on anything, who refused to watch a film because it had subtitles.

  • Comment number 27.

    Subtitles are always going to be a problem for the mass market.
    I have had an ongoing argument with my friend regarding foreign films and he just will not give them a chance due to the subtitles on the screen.
    One of my favorite films is Pans Labyrinth for which I have tried to encourage him to watch but he wont sit through it at all and simply replies, "I want to watch a film, not read it!".

    There is no need to remake foreign language films as I have not seen a justified case to do so, Let The Right One In, Infernal Affairs, Ringu, Dragon Tattoo have added nothing to further the stories in my opinion. I have also heard there is a planned remake of Troll Hunter which would be unnecessary as it is a film set specifically in that region, if you move it to some district in America the legend will not work. I had the same issue with The Ring, an American setting makes it hard for me to believe that the curse infact existed at all.

    Even the more commercially successful films such as Crouching Tiger received groans in my world of cine due to the Mandarin language.

    Ultimately remakes are an easy way for a studio to make an dollar, the blue prints are already there for them to see in the original.

  • Comment number 28.

    I am from Poland, so to me it doesn't make any difference: English, Swedish, all of them are foreign languages for me and force me to watch the movies with subtitles. I never had any problems with that.

    Second, could you please stop with this "American remake of the Swedish original"? This is NOT a remake, this is just another adaptation of the Stieg Larsson's book (like Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, which has dozens of different adaptations).

    The question is: why David Fincher made this movie in the first place? Well, I think because the book is just a very fincherian material for him. It's a twisted, dark, violent crime story with lots of details, focusing on the process of investigation and complex characters.

    I love the book. I love the intensity of the plot and the unique atmosphere of the Swedish island where it takes place. I didn't find those things made particularly made well in the Swedish version of the movie, I found them in the hugely stylized, beautifully crafted Fincher work. Also, I found the main characters to be much stronger in this movies than in the Swedish (I prefer Craig as Blomkwist and yes, I think that Mara is fantastic as Lisbeth)

    To me it's not a question of reading subtitles or not. To me it's a question of who is doing better justice to the Larsson's book.

  • Comment number 29.

    The entire point of these Hollywood remakes is to generate as much cash for the studio, not about how best to cater for the whims of an audience regarding preferences for subtitles, dubbing etc.

    A studio hopes to make much more money from a remake (after buying the rights) than from just acting as a distributor. (The way things are going we’ll probably get a reboot remake of Girl With Dragon tattoo in 15 years time too.)

    The hardest thing for Hollywood to do is be original; as soon as it sees a foreign movie doing something ‘new’ then Hollywood wants to do its own copy.

    It does have to be said that all these Hollywood remakes probably will bring a story (The Grudge, The Ring etc) to an audience that would ignore an art-house or subtitled DVD release (casting pearls before swine and all that).

    On a related subject. A movie to look out for when it gets its art-house/DVD release is Indonesian action movie The Raid; this could turn out to be this years Rec: or Let The Right One In [Lat den ratte komma in]. The Raid is getting rave reviews from Sundance and other US festivals.

    Trailers for The Raid are on YouTube - and yes – a Hollywood studio has already snapped up the remake rights.

  • Comment number 30.

    As an anime fan thanks both to film and DVD I have the option of being able to choose wheather I watch the film in its orginal language or switching over to the English dub which can sometimes, like the case of Patlabor can, almost give me two different films to watch. What seems strange to me is that the only example of a live action film doing this and doing it well is Das Boot. I think the real question should be not why did a film studio gamble so much money just to remake a foreign film thats less than two years old, but instead why did they not get in touch with the orginal film makes to look at releasing a dubbed version of the orginal with its orginal cast reading their lines in English and releasing that in America? Then when the DVD is released they can have the option to watch the film in the orginal language or in the language they saw the film in at the cinema.

    And before anybody says what if the Swedish actors can't speak English I would remind you that Bela Lugosi faced and solved that little problem for the orginal stage version of Dracula and as the saying goes the rest is history.

  • Comment number 31.

    Subtitles do not put me off seeing a movie.
    However I firmly believe that watching a subtitled movie is not as immersive as watching a film whose language you understand
    You can miss a lot of the acting in a film when you are busy reading the subtitles, especially on the big screen.
    To say that the whole world reads subtitles is simply not true. In Italy they rather watch dubbed films than subtitled films. So I wouldn't complain too much about the state of movie watching habits in the UK.

  • Comment number 32.

    Most of us on this site started watching foreign films because our desire to see these films was greater than any prejudice we may have had against subtitles. But for mainstream audiences anything with subtitles is automatically percieved as arty and pretentious. The Doc has said he thinks children should be introduced to subtitled films which poses the question what are good titles to start with?

    As regard to american remakes in general, i have a rule that i see the original first and if they get it right the first time i don't bother with the remake so consequently i've only ever seen Ringu, Open your eyes, The Vanishing(88) and if you want to go back far enough 'Pepe le Moko'. But as heretical as it may sound i prefer the Fincher version of "Girl" as it's less convoluted than the original.

  • Comment number 33.

    When all is said and done, the only reason foreign films are remade is because most the world (Americans) are too lazy to read subtitles and want a quick buck.

    If the original foreign film is good enough to make people sit up and think, "This is great, I'd love to re-make this", then IT DOESNT NEED TO BE RE-MADE!

    What this also does, is stop (most) people watching the original foreign film.

  • Comment number 34.

    Somebody should just remake Superman: The Movie and set it in Sweden.

  • Comment number 35.

    It's interesting that so many people who seem averse to subtitles were perfectly happy to watch Inglourious Basterds, a film that was, in large parts, subtitled.

    I do not think it is the subtitles that people inherently dislike, it's more the fact that the films are foreign. People seem to have a problem watching anything from a different country, but kid themselves into thinking it's all down to the subtitles.

  • Comment number 36.

    I can't say that I've seen loads of foreign-language films, but the ones I have seen (e.g. Let the Right One In, Cronos, The Devil's Backbone etc.) I really like. As for remakes, I can sort of understand Hollywood wanting to remake them even if the remakes themselves are unnecessary. The only remake to a foreign film I've seen is Let Me In, which unlike the good doctor, I enjoyed even if it copied the original film a little too much in areas.

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree with the first post. There is no problem with reading subtitles but that doesn't appear to be the norm in the rest of the world. Dubbing seems to be the most usual way to screen films.
    I live in Spain which has a long history of dubbing and the dubbing is particularly well done, so much so that I have no problem with it anymore, in SPANISH. If a film is dubbed into English I cannot watch it and I must have subtitles.
    But there's the rub these things are done for historical as well as cost and various other reasons. Our own likes or dislikes seem to be made in our youth. English and, especially, American audiences are so used to having everything made for them that they do not move out of their comfort zone unless forced to. A case in point being 'The Artist' who would want to see a black and white silent film unless the world and his sister kept on about how good it is?
    Films need the backing and the distribution to be seen, subtitles or not. Audience habits only change with a little pushing in the right direction, and by the right direction I mean original versions with subtitles.
    Incidentally, my brother in law (Spanish) loves films but hates to see films with subtitles and has to see everything dubbed. Just, I think, because that's what he was brought up with. He also hates old black and white films and claims to have never ever seen a B&W film and says he never will! So he needs remakes! of old films

  • Comment number 38.

    If America wants to remake every film in cinema history that's it's own problem, I certainly won't be watching 99.9% of them. Actually I wouldn't mind but The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (the original) wasn't even a great film to begin with - we are seriously saying that your average audience couldn't see the end coming? If we flip the logic and the original had been an American film it wouldn't have had half the praise in the first place.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well, I agree that some of these remakes can be pointless, just like any other kind of film. On the other hand, if it wasn't for Hollywood remakes, we wouldn't have Breathless with Richard Gere in the funny trousers.

  • Comment number 40.

    I have another suggestion. European countries start remaking American movies. Think about it. A Swedish version of The Social Network. A French version of Cloverfield. Meanwhile, we Europeans can claim to have never seen the original but attest the remakes superiority nevertheless.

    That would give David Fincher, Matt Reeves et al a taste of their own medicine.

  • Comment number 41.

    We would have Friedkin's masterful "Sorcerer" either.

    I haven't seen the Danish version and I probably won't, I wanted to The DAVID FINCHER version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", it was a damn good thriller with good performances with all the style you expect from Fincher. It's certainly not Fincher's best work at all, Fight Club and Zodiac get that award but it's damn fine version of a bestselling book and the boxoffice when it comes to Fincher isn't very relevant at all, he makes massive budget independently spirited films that every once in a while is successful and they always do very well on dvd. We wouldn't complain it if was a another adaptation of Dracula, Frankenstein or Dickens etc... so why should we moan if it's of a extremely popular novel.

  • Comment number 42.

    Are the rest of the world reading subtitles? I was under the, perhaps false, impression that the snobbery towards watching dubbed films (myself included) was a particularly English-language thing and that the French, Germans, Italians, etc, had no problems with it - in which case the Swedish and American versions would be on the same playing field with the Swedish version simply having come out first. I could be wrong though.

  • Comment number 43.

    I have no problem with subtitles and always prefer them to dubbing. The comparison with The Wire not having subtitles is unfair as it is easily understandable to an English-speaker with a keen ear.
    As for the US subtitling Trainspotting they should just have been told "tae gang an' byle yer heid".
    Everytime I hear a whinge about subtitles I am reminded of a wee sketch on TV once which went along the lines of the TV continuity announcer saying "and now it's East Enders with subtitles for the hard of thinking". Says it all really

  • Comment number 44.

    Whilst most such remakes are weaker and unnecessary not always so and you can't generalize as otherwise your Breathless V A boute de souffle (probable spelling errors) stance comes unhinged or hoisted by your own petard if that analogy even works.

    I also agree with previous commentator that box office aint no case for whether remakes work, an argument that should make you blush with shame for frequent dismissal of box office as any indication of a films value.

    For me GWTDT by Fincher is better as it is clearly cinematic whilst the original was more of a tv series rushed onto the big screen. And being Fincher it is beautifully shot, edited and has better cast and soundtrack. TA

  • Comment number 45.

    @1 I lived in Spain some 20 years ago and still cannot help but smile at memory of the dubbing of such classics as La Policia Del Barrio (The Bill) and El Equalizer (The Equalizer (unsurprisingly)). How they managed to get voices soooo different in character to the originals was wonderful. Edward Woodward's dubber's voice sounded so low it was as if his "testiculos" had been marinaded in 80% proof brandy. Dubbing is a joke, it robs the original work of it's soul and it's essence, and in Edward Woodward's case, robs an actor of their performance.

  • Comment number 46.

    Here in Germany, all films released in cinemas are dubbed. This is a horrible act for me as someone who understand the English language.
    I started watching the original version of films on DVD about three years ago, and couldn't stop. It is just marvellous (for you the most natural thing in the world) to hear the actual voice of the actors, the excitement, the anger and the fear. Different accents which are trademarks of regions, social class and nations.
    All this gets completely lost when re-recorded in German. The fact that these voices are often way louder than the other sounds in the film add to the impression of listening to a radio play.

    Often the film doesn't make sense anymore as i.e. Tarantino's Inglorious B-. For you the Germans speak German (and Italian/French), the American English and the French French.
    But here everybody on screen speaks German!

    Plus, great oral accomplishment is if any half as good, for example Colin Firth in The King's Speech.

    Through the whole dubbing-process the films are often screened about 6 months after their official release in the UK and US.

    And all this just for the lazy, cosseted German, who can't be bothered either to hear a different sound of voice than of the (apparent) 7 different voice actors available in Germany or to read subtitles (of which there are none here).

    A way around this problem is to watch films at home with the original audio track.

    My current place of living is 50 km away from any kind of bigger town which may present a late-night screening of a film "OmU" (original with subtitles).

    So it's wrong to say that EVERY other country than Britain and the US is able to read subtitles. The Krauts ain't.

    An alternative would be to download the current UK- and US films illegally and by doing this support piracy.


    Got any advice here?

    David

  • Comment number 47.

    Mark, I have to ask an obvious question. You were prepared to give the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo a fair chance, but I recall your dismissive attitude to Let Me In, the American remake of the brilliant Let The Right One In. What was the difference between the two that you gave one a chance but not the other?

  • Comment number 48.

    The good Doctor continues to give us the audio book version of TGTBaTM. Fair point though.
    BTW one of the rare occasions where a film is better than the source book (original Swedish version obviously, not seen the remake.)

  • Comment number 49.

    I agree with many others who have pointed out that the rest of the world, by and large, does dubbing and not subtitles. Does this mean that they should be the target of the same snobbery which automatically casts American remakes as inferior and superfluous before production has even started?

    I think that the idea that North American cinema is some kind of ignorant globalizing force that ignores national differences and tramples on poor world cinema is interesting with regard to Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but not in the sense Dr K seems to be speaking about.

    The film, contrary to what Dr K suggests, is all too aware of its Hollywood status as it fails to articulate what is arguably the main theme in the book: masculine violence against women in Swedish society and the failure to address the nation's Nazi past. As I think Kim Newman pointed out in Sight and Sound, the title of the source novel in Swedish is: Men Who Hate Women.

    The Fincher film is arguably more nuanced in its depiction of the Salander character and the trauma she suffers at the hands of violent males. However, unlike the book, it is reluctant to suggest that there are specific problems in Swedish society that get swept under the carpet.

    The Fincher film seems reluctant to stress this point, bar the odd line of dialogue. This is arguably because it is aware that as an American film it cannot be seen to be criticising a country which it is depicting on film, even though the committed moral thrust of its literary source material makes such a criticism.

  • Comment number 50.

    Hollywood's obsession with remakes must go to show how creativity is now dead when it comes to adult cinema in the US. Some examples, the recent remake of Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs strikes me as nothing more than an excuse to feature violence and rape in todays multiplexes. The original is poetic and lyrical. It's the subilities of character interaction and not the violence that made that film the enduring classic it is. I doubt very much Peckinpah's version will be bettered on that level (I've no intention of seeing the remake, you can call that respect to the late Mr. Peckinpah)
    The idea of some propossed remakes make me fearful! You'll love this one Dr Kermode, I read that Mc G was to remake Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. Barry Lyndon is with out doubt the most visually stunning movie ever made. As well as being a very pretty picture to look at, Kubrick has no doubt laden the film with hidden narratives and subliminal story telling, as he did with many of his later films. How on earth is a egotistical nit wit ( I can only assume a man that calls himself Mc G is an egotistical nit wit!) going to better one of the finest film makers ever to take make a Hollywood film?

  • Comment number 51.

    #4 - Would you be as dismissive of TCCoBB's box office had you enjoyed it? Invariably, people brand box office as irrelevant when it negates their personal take on the material: loved it but it bombed / hated it but it cleaned up.

  • Comment number 52.

    "Shouldn't we just get used to something the rest of the world is already used to: reading subtitles"?
    That's just not so. What the rest of the world is used to is dubbed movies.
    Even Europe (Germany, Spain, Italy, France) regularly eschew subtitled presentations for dubbing. Dubbing is the norm and seeing an American or British film in subtitled English in many places in Europe is as about as difficult as catching a screening of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives in a regional cinema in the UK/Ireland. Face it Mark - you're spoiled. Festivals, special screenings, etc. Check out how many mainstream American productions you'll find presented in English with subtitling this week in Heidelberg, Reims, Parma, Granada, etc.

  • Comment number 53.

    Box-office figures are just a part of the overall profit made by a film. Sales, rentals, royalties from TV and internet, and others also make an important part of a film's profit. Not only that, Mark, but the money earned by the original adaptation and the money made by the American version go to different hands as well.

    Regarding the remake, I have so far only seen Fincher's version and to be perfectly honest I see no reason to go back to the book or the Swedish one. It's not that I disliked Fincher's take, it's that for me what made the film interesting and gripping was what was clearly Fincher's own input - the flash, the cinematic flair, the grueling soundtrack, etc. Without him, I'm left with a typical procedural film with plenty of ridiculous plot points to have to swallow along the way. The fact that everything I've heard of the original agrees that it's a very televisual film only strengthens my decision of staying away from it.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ Daniel (#52)

    Over here in Argentina, dubbing is a somewhat rare practice outside family films or animations. However, the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was indeed dubbed. Usually I try to avoid dubs at all costs.

  • Comment number 55.

    Subtitles won't fly here in America, but it seems silence will do slightly better. "The Artist" has already taken more at the US box office than the original "Tattoo." But then again, subject matter is also key. Personally, I'd rather see something more whimsical and uplifting than... not.

  • Comment number 56.

    I’m not a great admirer of David Fincher’s recent work. Zodiac (2007) was completely devoid of any real tension, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) was tiresomely long and tedious and although I would agree that it was cleverly written The Social Network (2010) was interesting without being dynamic. There’s always a tendency toward flashy technique in Fincher’s output. His latest attempt at directorial immortality, the reworking of the brilliant Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), is no exception; a glitzy out of place opening credit sequence and flamboyant soundtrack does not make up for the films obvious failings.

    This unnecessary reworking of the first part of Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) was the subject of this week’s RBC Film Club evening. Our very own Filmmaker Alec Barclay gave a fine introduction to the evening and took a rather fiery discussion that followed the viewing. Alec explained that this version of the film, was still set in Sweden but with it’s large Hollywood style budget could afford some well known actors and actresses although the relatively unknown Rooney Mara takes over the role of Lisbeth Salander previously played by Noomi Rapace with Daniel Craig taking time off from his day job as the British spy James Bond to play Larsson’s alter ego, the investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Alec went on to talk about the soundtrack, which resurrects Led Zeppelins Immigrant Song this time sung by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and was created by the same team who won an Academy Award for the music for The Social Network, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Atticus Ross son of Radio Caroline founder Ian Ross.

    This is the first part of Larsson’s Trilogy, for which to date 65 million books have been sold, it depicts the relationship between the middle-aged left wing investigative journalist and the young bi-sexual ward of the state, researcher and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. The pair join forces to investigate the disappearance, some 40 years previous, of the great niece of Hendric Vanger, (Christopher Plummer) the 82 year-old former Chief Executive Officer of a group of companies owned by a very wealthy Swedish dynasty.

    I personally have two main problems with Fincher’s USA remake. Lisbeth Salander is an iconic character, one I will always associate with Noomi Repace’s inspired performance. There’s an authenticity in the way she, and Michael Nyqvist who plays Blomkvist in the original film, portrays the main characters. In my opinion Fincher goes to far in softening Lisbeth’s image, which does not convey her deep hatred for men. In the original she only had sex with Blomkvist to satisfy her carnal desires whereas in the remake she seems to fall in love with the journalist also at the climax of the film she asked Blomkvist permission to kill the ‘villain’ the real anti authoritarian punk would not seek permission! My second gripe is that the strength of original film, directed by Neils Arden Oplev, is in the way it transposed Larsson’s written word onto the screen. In this inferior interpretation Steven Zaillian takes unnecessary liberties with the novels narrative including changing the ending along with the important fact that Blomkvist’s mysterious list of telephone numbers was solved by someone other than Lisbeth and while we are on the subject what happened to Blomkvist’s prison sentence?

    Finally I will ask again the question’s that was raised many times during Monday nights discussion: why did the Americans remake a brilliant Swedish thriller, other than the fact that they can’t read and secondly why on earth did half the cast speak with dodgy Swedish accents (the exception being Sellan Skarsgard who is Swedish) and the other half did not? Perhaps Mr Fincher would have been better to have set the story in America, he made so many unnecessary changes one more would have not made a lot of difference.

  • Comment number 57.

    Some time I think it is better to have films remade with using the english language as for people like myself who have problems reading subtitles because by the time I've read part of it they onto the next lot so i miss half the plot however I enjoyed the original film. I watched it at the cinema and I missed most of the plot but I enjoyed the film so when it came out for sale I went out and bought it and chose to dub it in english so I could understand it better so i do understand why some people don't like subtitles but if it come it you can always have the film dubed. With this film I found the Swedish one to be better in bringing the book to life.

  • Comment number 58.

    It seems to me that foreign language remakes work if the thing being remade is abstract like a plot structure or, well plot. I think both 'Infernal Affairs' and 'The Departed' are both good films (although I prefer the latter) but 'The Departed' doesn't feel like a remake. I think that is because outside of the brilliant plot idea, and the plot structure they are not the same; the characters a similar in generic terms but no further; 'The Departed' is has Boston as a really deep and interesting texture; etc... I haven't seen 'Dragon tattoo' yet, but it seems that all of the distinctive things have been transfered. But it also seems that the idea behind the film is so much about the particularities of character that it is simply not good materiel for a remake.

    Another example of good abstract remake is 'The Seven Samurai' and 'The Magnificent Seven', although in that case the original was a hell of alot better. It shouldn't be surprising that Kurusowa provided such remakable material seeing as he himself was the king of abstract adaptations ('Ran' and 'The Idiot' are simply the best film interpretations of their respective sources, so long as we can ignore the loss of Shakespeare's language!)

  • Comment number 59.

    @Rach Subtitles and dubbing aren't translations of a film they are an outside interference with a film. The director of a film didn't make a film for you to be watching the bottom 12 inches of the screen.

    To complete my book analogy. They didn't put pictures in the book so those that didn't understand swedish could work out what was going on.

  • Comment number 60.

    Having seen the original GWTDT a few years ago (my local theaters and rental stores in the US didn't have it, luckily my public library did), I couldn't help but watch the new Fincher version searching for where they differ. I'm sure there are many more that other people will find, but only two stuck out to me. First, when Lisbeth has her laptop broken. In the original she is attacked by multiple men. She manages to get a few good hits in it, but in the end she is as battered and bruised as her assailants, if not more so. In the Fincher version, one thief attempts to steal her bag and she swiftly beats him into submission. The other is near the end of the film, when after saving Mikael from the basement, Lisbeth runs Martin's car off the road. In the original there was a very touching moment after the crash where she walks up to the car and looks at Martin as he lay mangled from the wreck. The car becomes engulfed in flames and Lisbeth looks, briefly, like she might try to save him from the flames. Of course, this mirrors what happened in Lisbeth's past when she set her own father ablaze and stared remorselessly as he burned. In the Fincher version, the car explodes in a fireball that would make Bay blush as she is approaching it. In both cases, I think Fincher robs Lisbeth of a bit of her humanity and vulnerability, opting to make her a bit more akin to a female Jason Bourne.

  • Comment number 61.

    The most violent scene in film history is the provoked murder of HAL. Think about it.

  • Comment number 62.

    I refuse to watch a remake if i love the foreign language original. Ive been burnt too many times before. So i wont be seeing Hollywood Tattoo. Hollywood seems to have a unique talent at taking genius and turning it into forgettable trash.I still havnt recovered over what they did to Wings of Desire!

  • Comment number 63.

    You ask whether its worth making remakes if they aren’t going to be a success, but how can you ever know if a film is going to be a success?? If you start financing films on that basis then you play a dangerous game and never take any chances. I mean who new that a silent, black and white film would be a massive hit??

    In specific relation to the Dragon Tattoo films, I was a fan of the books, saw the Swedish films, and have recently seen the remake. It’s not often I bother with remakes, except where I believe they can be improved, and where I have faith that the director will do a good job. In terms of the Swedish version, the film was average, raised way above its game by the stunning central performance of Noomi Rapace.

    In my opinion, David Fincher not only brought to the table a better visual aesthetic, he also addressed most of the problems I had with the narrative, I know you will disagree Dr K, but I felt the film flowed in a more realistic manner, rather than rushing through it. The supporting cast was also more superior, with Daniel Craig making an excellent Blomquist.

    I think the content and subject manner of the film will always make it a tough sell to audiences, which is why it probably hasn’t sold as well in America. Perhaps because ‘American’ or ‘Swedish’ subtitles don’t make a difference to Europe (they are all translated to the same language after all) they didn’t see the need to see it again so soon after the original.

    It is a great shame that ‘english / american’ speaking countries aren’t more open to subtitles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean remakes should be an automatic no no. You yourself prefer the American Richard Gere remake of ‘Breathless’ afterall.

  • Comment number 64.

    I enjoy many subtitled foreign language films, but the idea that watching the subtitled version of a film is somehow a nobler pursuit is, at best, snobbery and, at worst, utter wankery.

    As someone has already asked: "Did you read the original novel in Swedish?". There is nothing wrong with translation. If anything a remake is a better translation than subtitles.

    Think about it: the subtitles you see are translated by someone who simply takes the dialogue and gives it the translation that makes the most sense. There is no concern for translating the poetry or subtlety of the original language; that's a much tougher job that goes far beyond linguistic fiddling. Whereas with a remake you have an entire storyteling team working hard to capture the essence of the source material and turn that essence into an English language telling of the story. I'm not saying they always are (Politics, greed and Hollywood's patronising opinion of their consumers almost invariably get in the way), but certainly an English-language remake of a foreign film should be better, at least for anyone who speaks English. The same would be true of a Spanish version of an English language film; for the Spanish they are likely to make a deeper connection with the Spanish version than the English version.

    It's the difference between, say, one of those very literal "Shakespeare Made Easy" websites that strips away the poetry and nuance of the language and focuses, narrowly, on literal meaning, and Carol Ann Duffy or Benjamin Zephaniah creating their own verse drama version of 'Much Ado About Nothing'. No it's not going to be the original at all, but it will have ten times the subtlety and emotional impact of the bastardised "translation".

    Not to mention, of course, if we didn't continually retell stories in different languages we wouldn't have half the rich history of myths and legends we do today.

  • Comment number 65.

    The American version of "Dragon Tattoo" is by far the better film cinematically, whereas the Swedish version is more complex morally and thematically. Which you prefer depends on how much depth you want in what is - when all is said and done - a pretty pulpy thriller.

    It should be remembered, however, that "Dragon Tattoo" is the beginning of a trilogy and, to tell the truth, parts two and three in Swedish were pretty lame, being weak narratively and having next-to-nothing to do with the first film. The Hollywood re-tread of "Dragon Tattoo" includes some narrative threads which have clearly been included with a view to further development in the putative sequels. Should they be made, I think the trilogy as a whole will be superior to the original.

    That leads on to a more general response to the blog which is that, for all its tendency to produce as much rubbish as gold, Hollywood has refined the art of story-telling to a degree that few other national film industries can match. Subtitled European films can be masterpieces, sure, but they all too often lack structural discipline and cohesion. I have seen a fair few French films, for instance, that simply do not know when to stop. The Swedish "Girl With..." sequels suffered from a similar tendency and, be honest, how many people saw the original "Dragon Tattoo" without being jolted out their seat by that weird narrative swerve at the end? Yes, I know that it's also in the American re-make, but it is less of a non-sequitur because it is set up much earlier in the film (and seems to include the beginning of some of those story arcs that will be picked up in the sequels - if they ever get made)

  • Comment number 66.

    This is an issue that really bugs me. It seemed that, right from the get-go, the knives were out for this one and I got pretty sick fairly early on about all the piety that sprang up regarding 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' remake. When I heard that Anthony Minghella was to remake 'The Lives of Others' for an english-language market - even despite the fact that he's a fellow Isle of Wighter - I was annoyed by this news. Leave it alone! It's perfect as it is! Etc! Obviously, for at least one unfortunate reason, that film has been dumped or is on hold or whatever.
    But the fact of the matter is, no matter the good intentions of Niels Arden Oplev and co., the Swedish films WERE Movie of the Week cash-ins; very good Movie of the Week cash-ins I'll grant you but cash-ins, nonetheless. Oplev was a director for hire. I read the book last November when I had no telly and no computer so I thought I'd bury my head in a book. Now, "International Bestseller" is a complete turn-off for me but I thought I'd give it a go since I'd heard that it was different. Well, I blitzed through the whole thing in about four or five days, no worries. I couldn't put it down - I LUVVED IT!
    Subsequently, I rented the film to have a look since everyone raved about that too. Very good. Not great but worth the time of day. Having heard mixed reports about David Fincher's version I went in trepidatiously. Still not perfect but better, definitely, I thought. I didn't get the sense of events being rushed through as I did with the Oplev version. Better told and less afraid to take risks. On top of all that, everyone seems to be so down on Rooney Mara and I feel sorry for her. Noomi Rapace has had worldwide accolades and a career in Hollywood - she hasn't exactly been ignored, has she? And don't get too up about Mara's Oscar nomination, since she ain't gonna win it! They're dying to give Meryl Streep that Oscar so the others won't get a look in! My main reason for defending Rooney Mara is, however, that everyone seems to be saying that she hasn't done anything new. Well, look, this is my perspective: Noomi Rapace was a more intense, Goth/Emo character and Rooney Mara was more of a "I-don't care-what-you-think" Punk rocker. That's what I saw. As good as one another but very slightly different and I believed Mara every step of the way.
    It is true that mass audiences seem to be incredibly reductive to subtitles. I remember being greatly annoyed by seeing 'Quarantine' turn up, straight on the coat tails of '[REC]'. I get irritable with friends and relatives for not watching foreign films when they complain about not wanting to watch Hollywood films. Well, what do you want, then?! But that doesn't mean because it's a Hollywood remake it'll automatically be rubbish! It's David Fincher for God's sake - it's not like he looked at the script and went; "Right, let's see how much we can mug them off for!"

  • Comment number 67.

    I am in a quandary here, in a way: do I think of this as someone with an interest in languages or as a cineaste? Subtitles can also help with learning a foreign language, but they aren't always literal translations.

    "Hollywood" (or any other) versions don't always improve the "original" film. To be honest, I much preferred Abre los ojos to the remake (Vanilla Sky) where Penelope Cruz played the same part in both films!

  • Comment number 68.

    I'm going to assume you are playing Devil's Advocate by raising the subject of box office takings, since you know full well it is not an indication of anything other than how many people saw the film. Transformers took millions at the box office - what does that tell us about the film, other than lots of people saw it? Nothing. The same is true of TGWTDT, in both cases, original and remake. I have yet to see Fincher's take on it, or even the original film, but from what I've seen, Fincher has made a slick, atmospheric, dynamic film, with a great cast deliving great performances. What's to dislike about that? I am usually very snobby about US remake of European films, but that is because 9 times out of 10, they destroy the original. That doesn't appear to have been the case here.

    Ultimately, just as with Scorsese's The Departed, if the final result is a good film then what's the problem?

  • Comment number 69.

    ... And now I hear that 'Headhunters', a Norwegian thriller from the producers of the Swedish-language version of Dragon Tattoo and written by the guy who is apparently the new Stieg Larsson is already lined up for an American remake before it has hit screens in Norway. Take from that, what you will...

  • Comment number 70.

    The issue should not be about whether another version of a film is needed but whether it has anything more to say. In that sense I see the English language version not as a remake of a foreign language film for more money but an alternative take on the story. Albeit a very similar, alternative take.

    If swedish language version of the film was the original version of the story, I feel it would be very corporate for a Hollywood remake. Yet it is not, we all know both films origins come from the novel. In that sense the story has already been told, if you ask why a english language version should be made then why not simply extend the argument and ask whether any film should have been made anyway (considering the complexity and detailed mystery)?

    In the end so long as a new version of an old story adds something then I don't see a problem. In this case its Rooney Mara's depiction of Lisabeth Salander, which I feel is much more in line with the novels. Mara's anger is caged and controlled through logic, you feel she has analysed every action and predicted it's outcomes. Noomi Rapace, seems more sane in her performance, she's a product of a broken life. In contrast, you feel that in some way Mara's Salander must be detached from her emotions despite the horrors she has experienced, in this way she seems less sane. Don't get me wrong I think both performances are off a high quality but they emphasise different aspects of the characters

  • Comment number 71.

    I loved the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but i went to see the ramake with a fairly open mind. It was just another case of the Let Me In effect. I think that the original GWTDT and Let the Right One In make and interesting companion, both were fairly small films from sweden based of very strong source material, both made brilliant films. Then, of course, both were remade in American and both remakes were very well recieved. Yes the remake of TGWTDT looked good, thats pretty much it. It is truly absurd that Rooney Mara has been nominated for an Oscar this year when, last year, Nooma Rapace was not. Absurd.

  • Comment number 72.

    i know its bad but i did love lets say re-imaging i HATE remakes i think this is a re-imaging of the book i absolutely love the Swedish version is amazing but i watched it dubbed as im dyslexic and struggled (i do love forgien films anyway may i add) but still david finchers version was also very good im my eyes sorry if you dont agree thats just my opinion.

    and on that note dr kermode thats the only issue with subtitles its hard for people like my who enjoy cinema but also suffer from dyslexia and irlen syndrome

  • Comment number 73.

    I'm sorry Dr Kermode but I find myself getting rather angry at yet another suggestion (especially from someone who I would have thought was too smart to fall into that trap) that Fincher has remade the Swedish film. He hasn't. He has adapted the book and done a much better job of it. There, I've said it. Obviously having the bigger budget helps, but the Swedish adaptation pales in comparison, including Noomi Rapace's portrayal of Lisbeth which as anyone who has read the books will tell you, is far too aggressive and, well, not much like her character in the book.

    Fincher has, along with Steve Zaillian's brilliant script, somehow managed to condense most of what is a very heavily plotted book into something just north of two and a half hours, which is a huge achievement. And as for Rooney Mara, she is just brilliant and if it wasn't for the Academy's love of any old dross Meryl Streep stars in, she'd have the Oscar in the bag. She utterly nails it in a part for which it is hard to believe actresses such as Scarlett Johansson and Charlize Theron audtioned for.

    As for the film's box office in America, I would say that the reason it hasn't made as much as it deserves is simply down to the fact that there is no big American star in the title role and the story involves Nazis, anal rape and as a result, nudity. And we all know what the Americans views on nudity are now don't we? The very fact that it's an R over there would have been a huge barrier to success. A few friends of mine who have all moved to the States in the last five years or so, have said that the attitude to going to the cinema in the US is that of being able to take the kids as a treat and that parents tend not to go just by themselves. Films strictly aimed at adults and rated R (Matrix Reloaded does not count as it was clearly aimed at teenagers) tend to either bomb in the States or get slapped with an NC-17. Cinematic death by lethal injection in other words.

    So to end my rant, I would like to say that there is nothing wrong with remakes, just as there is nothing wrong with covering a song or doing another version of The Tempest or King Lear. By that argument Dr K, you're suggesting that Kurosawa should not have made Ran?

  • Comment number 74.

    @49

    Just read that post and have to say, whilst I think the US version is far superior, you have hit the nail on the head. Great post.

  • Comment number 75.

    Mark, surely you don't think the only reason to make a movie should be to do with its box office intake. I'm sure Fincher's main motivation was to make the best movie possible and I think he succeeded. I've heard you say that there was no point in redoing dragon tatoo if it wasn't going to be improved upon, yet I've also heard you say that this version is visually better than the original version. not only that but I think Fincher created a much leaner and effective thriller with Skarsgard delivering an excellent performance that has been overlooked by many. What about Reznors score???? all these aspects I think make this version a much better piece of cinema

  • Comment number 76.

    9barr - you definitely have a point their. Fincher didn't remake the Swedish film - he claims he went back to the "original source", the book, and based his film on that.
    The slight caveat is that Fincher and Co presumably based their film on an English translation where as the Swedish film was preumably based on the Swedish language book.
    Now I don't speak Swedish but I have friend who does and tells me that when books get translated into English something is definitely lost in the translation (he tells me this is the case with the Wallander books). The translation may be literal in terms of the words but what about the subtle nuances that can make all the difference?
    A good example is Shakespeare - it never works when it is translated into "modern" English.
    In essence what I am saying is that it may well be that we actually have two films (one American, one Swedish) based on two different versions of the same book.

  • Comment number 77.

    I thought you've said before that you can't judge films based on Box Office figures, as that simply states how many people went to see it, not if they liked it or found it enjoyable.

    Yet I agree remakes very rarely add anything to the original, and I wish more people who watch subtitled films, although lets be honest, it would take away much of the intellectual benefits/snobbery that comes with being a foreign film fan. :D

    What would be more interesting is remaking a BAD film, one that's a bit of a mess but with a good and entertaining idea at its heart but executed poorly, that way they can leave the fantastic foreign films we know and love alone, and mess with something rubbish.

    There's also an argument that a re-make draws attention and awareness to the original film in the first place - I think this is true in some aspects, but might be putting a good spin on an ill omen.

  • Comment number 78.

    I have read all the books. I put up with the turgid prose because he could tell a good story (and there would only ever be 3 to wade through, mind you, no doubt number 3.5 on that laptop will surface etc). Story is what matters and not whole shopping lists. If I wanted to read shopping lists I can pick up a catalogue and read that. I can’t help wondering if he had lived, a good editor might have had him knock at least a quarter to a third of the prose out. But as this is a film blog – here’s my view:
    He was not only very good at telling a story, but he had Hollywood firmly in mind as he wrote them. The books made it big because they were so cinematic and easy to follow. The American version certainly had beautiful photography and the wardrobe and set design were exquisite. The original version didn’t look as good, but had more soul and a gritty realism and acting the remake couldn’t quite attain. For once, I watched an American remake because of who was directing it, and he was filming it on location. And also because I wanted to see the cinematic experience the author really had in mind as he banged away at the keyboard. I was disappointed by the performances, however. My own theory is I’d have enjoyed it much better if Noomi Rapace was recast in the American version and that would have been everything to the remake. To that end, I have been wondering if there has been an example of this happening before – an actor playing the same part again, but in an American remake. I’m sure there is a glaring example of this, but I cannot think of who just now. I’m sure someone here will put me in the right.

  • Comment number 79.

    I agree with the good Dr K. on this subject, as practically all of my favourite films of the past decade have all been subtitled, and it is beyond me why people still stubbornly refuse to watch subtitled films. On the whole I am not anti remake as they can work sometimes (i.e. The Fly, The Thing), but I loathe identical remakes of foreign films to sell them to a mainstream market.

    I personally loved the Swedish versions of the Millenium trilogy but I refuse to see Fincher's remake for one reason only (the same goes for Let Me In) which I believe why the box office is lukewarm:

    IT WAS MADE TOO SOON !

    I mean why should I bother to pay to see a vaguely identical film just a year after I saw the original at the cinema and a couple of months after seeing the extended versions released on Blu-ray. The most important thing for me when viewing a film at the cinema is to see something new and even if Fincher can improve on the flaws the original had, does that justify an almost immediate remake.

    I recently watched my favourite director Zhang Yimou's pointless Chinese remake of the Coen's Blood Simple. Now his version was at least original with a new story and a completly different visual style but once the movie was over I just felt like I'd wished I'd watched the Coen's version instead and spent my time watched Zhang's better earlier films like The Story of Qui Ju or Not One Less.

    Come on Hollywood, get an original book and make an original film instead of making constant quick remakes of foreign films. I mean look at Tell No One the French adapted an American book into an amazing film and now again they are looking at a pointless remake. Why didn't Hollywood make it first ?

    Hollywood can get in right, case in point being the Bourne franchise which brought originality into a genre of tired Pierce Brosnan Bond films, but looking constantly at what films makes money abroad and trying to cash in on that market by remaking them has surely run it's course. I think they greatly underestimate the amount of people who are not put off by subtitles and with greater distribution foreign films would make more money at the multiplex. I had to travel 40 miles to Southampton to see Pan's Labyrinth when it was released as my local multiplex put Casino Royale on three screens, but at Southampton Pan's labyrinth was the only film sold out.

  • Comment number 80.

    Being dyslexia I can sometimes find it hard to keep up with the subtitles as they move on faster than I can read them, and even with a DVD I can loss the follow of a film if have to keep pausing our rewinding it to catch up. So for me an English speaking version is always perferabale.

    This does not mean the English speaking version is always the best version, that depends on the actors and director and the virual style they bring to the movie and oftern the Hollywood remakes can loss something in translation

    Something to think about is that The Artist would have be classed as a forgion langauge film if it had sound. Do you think it you have got the same level release if it was just a black and white French film ? Black and White and in French can you imagine trying to sale that in the US ?

  • Comment number 81.

    I really liked Fincher's remake of the girl with the dragon tattoo, and I can't start the anger about it. Okay its weird that this film came a few years after the original swedish version but so what? Why can't another country, America, make a film adaption of the book too? Its not a crime and I think Fincher delivered on it quite well, its not perfect but I don't think the book's plot is some masterpiece and the original film is far from a masterpiece but Noomi Rapace is very good. But I think Rooney Mara is equally very good and I do think she sorts the part more, Mara looks so vulnerable but also capable of handling herself in Fincher's film, you see more humanity like at the end when shes bringing the coat to him. I just thought it was done better, just because a film is foreign and made in subtitles does not automatically mean its the best film ever, raaaaaaaaaa.

  • Comment number 82.

    This is from an original post I put up in December, but it still does express me feeling about the new GWTDT.

    I'd hardly call it a remake. Characters and scenes that weren't in the original film are in the American version (and to be honest give it a bit more sense as the original did rush the story in places). I saw it on boxing day and it thought at times it did top the original. I know I was up in arms about the remake, but I did grow agnostic towards it mainly because it's David Fincher and cos the trailer was quite good.

    It does have it's flaws (the bond style credit sequence didn't have any use for it and doing in Sweden with Swedish accents is pointless as well), but I look back at the original and so did that (as I say rushed in places and in some ways didn't link well to the net film). Quite clearly it's not better than the original as the original is done with Swedish people in Swedish (though I do have a point to make about that). That said does it stand on it's own next to the original as another adaptation and for me: it does.

    I'll admit it is better in the Swedish than American as Sweden is were it's set. However a couple of points:

    1. When you watch a live action film with talking animals we usually watch it with them talking in English, why couldn't the film-makers just film them in their own 'language' and put subtitles on it? Because that would be stupid I know, but doing that does put in the audience into the world of the film. Subtitles shouldn't effect this but it does. I'm a film student and I love world cinema, but there has been foreign films where I have to watch again as I missed it due to not getting what has been said as I'm watch what's action is taking place (though it is a rarity) and that's me. For Joe Bloggs out on the street, I'd imagine the subtitles will be distracting and they would miss bits out. They absolutely should NOT be, but let's face it; they are. Most people do just want to have escapism when the go to the cinema and do want to be spoon fed. Not good I know, but it is the way the situation is. I'd imagine this is what sound being used in films has done, made it less universal. Also to go back to my original point aren't some of Shakespeare's plays set in other countries (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet etc...), but all countries do those plays in there native language. In films of Shakespeare's plays are all done English, we're never up in arms saying that should be done in Danish or that should be done in Italian or that should actually done in Latin.

    2. The issue of why do a remake so soon after the original is a valid one, but it does have it flaws in the point it's making. For starters, everyone involved on it has said that it is a american adaptation of the book not a remake of the original film (characters and scene's from the original don't appear in the American version and visa versa). It's probably them trying to get people from having that its remake in mind, which is never a good excuse, but let's humour them. Firstly to say it's a scene by scene remake of the original is not to do it justice as both of them are based on a book that has got a complicated plot, so they're are going to be crossovers that are unavoidable. Secondly, how many adaptations do we have of different books/plays/characters. Isn't Sherlock Holmes the most ever played character? How many Dickens novels have been adapted for film and TV? Also going back to what I said before how many countries do Shakespeare's plays in they're native language? So in that sense, doing a 'remake' isn't that bad unless it is a shot for shot remake then you should be shot at dawn for it.

    In saying all that though I still like the Swedish version and I think it is at best superior to the American version. Although I do think that the American version does stand on it's own with the original beside it. Both have flaws and both top each other in certain areas.

    I feel that I've written enough now, feel free to destroy my points in 1 sentence. haha

  • Comment number 83.

    Honestly, I rather suspect that there would have been American film adaptations of the books irrespective of the Danish/Swedish versions' existence, simply because Hollywood so frequently looks to the latest big selling books for new projects. It guarantees them an audience up front. The Hunger Games films will be massive because of said audience, as will the Lee Child adaptations, as were the Harry Potter films. Additionally, Paramount are on record as saying that they considered developing film versions when the books were first published in the US in 2008 - prior to the release of the Danish/Swedish treatments. Surely they were aware of the development of said adaptations, but it's not an incredulous leap of faith to believe that they looked at the best-selling books, thought about the huge audience they had garnered and saw the money potential first and foremost.

    More interestingly; Mark admitted that the 2nd Swedish/Danish film adaptation was fairly weak (The Girl Who Played With Fire). If the argument is that the American version of Dragon Tattoo doesn't add anything to the Danish/Swedish version of the 1st, surely there is ripe potential for improvement on the mediocre 2nd instalment. That sounds like good cause for a remake, or a revisit, or another version or whatever you call it.

  • Comment number 84.

    In relation to abiding subtitles or not...

    Are the cinema-going public the servants of the film?
    Or is the film to be of entertainment service to the cinema-going public?

    If the first, then the public should have to abide subtitles whether they wish to or not.
    If the second, then the wishes of the cinema-going public should be abided where they can be.

    America is a sizeable marketplace. If that public will not pay to read subtitles, then, if they are in service to the film, they should grow up... but if cinema is in service to them, then it is quite alright for an American-English version to be made, regardless of how purists might feel.

    I feel remakes get a bad press. They are a mixed bag. Some OK. Some poor. Some good. Some great. (And I'm not meaning just remakes of foriegn language films necessarilly). It is easy to flinch at the word 'remake', I am certainly guilty of that. However, without remakes, we would be missing some terrific films. It is rather like the 'despised' quota quicky, when you look at what we got out of *that* on-the-job film school.

    Remakes happen, and sometimes we are thankful.

  • Comment number 85.

    A case where I could see people not wanting to read subtitles would be maybe those people whose eyesight isn't great in which case it would strain their eyes.

    In general I don't see a problem with reading subtitles. I watch lots of foreign movies, but it seems that in native English Speaking countries the audience has been conditioned to watch remakes instead of the originals. I don't think it's a problem with the Audience not wanting to watch the original. It's the film distributors who don't promote the original film enough and instead prefer to take another film's good ideas and make millions out of it for themselves. If movie companies properly promoted the film the way they did their own home grown films I don't think subtitles would be an issue at all.

  • Comment number 86.

    "American?" The language is called English Mark!

  • Comment number 87.

    Remake or not I think the main problem with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is that it's a rather sleazy nasty film hidden behind the respectability of subtitles ('it's foreign so it must be better') and the slickness of Fincher's 'quality' cinema. I think that the main reason that Fincher's version hasn't made masses of money is that the word of mouth outside of filmic circles is that it's a so-so story containing a couple of scenes of brutal sexual violence. That's not a money making film in any language

    Just to echo what most people have said there is no problem with subtitles but I can see why people who are not used to reading them find them distracting...

    3 stories...

    1, My father's DVD player did a funny thing and he watched Inglourious Basterds without subs and remarked how brilliant it was that Tarantino had made a film with numerous languages that could still be understood without subtitles.

    2, On sitting down to watch Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon at the local cinema the moment the first subtitle appeared a loud groan went up from the back "you never told me there'd be readin"

    3, The two doctors have wondered over the past couple of weeks if stories of people asking for their money upon discovering that The Artist is silent is true. I think they are as a few years ago I sent to watch Apocalypto at the local multiplex only to be asked when buying the tickets if I knew it was not in English and if I knew Mel Gibson wasn't actually in it as they had had numerous people asking for their money back.

    ...whilst this seemed stupid it is worth remembering that the adverts for these films tend to do their best to hide these facts. The Artist advert was all about audience reactions. Maybe subtitled cinema would be more accepted if the marketing didn't try to hide it as if it was a downside.

    oh and I have no problem with English language remakes and it seems a bit cheap knocking Fincher's film when both of the stars of the original have been just as eager to jump to Hollywood as quickly as possible even if it meant taking on nothing roles in Sherlock Holmes 2 and Mission Impossible 4.

  • Comment number 88.

    I appreciate the sentiment and often wonder why the need for endless remakes in the english language of films that stand up on their own and do a job. However, I think you're raising the issue around the wrong two films here for the following reasons. The swedish language film didn't do it's job in my opinion, given the world wide succes of the books the film needed to be a cinematic production that was faithful to the story, nothing more and nothing less.

    It patently wasn't cinematic and crucially didn't stay faithful to the story, there's a KEY scene missing from it which Fincher rightly included (it's the last one). In fact that scene is so important that Lisbeth's state of mind for the next two films hinges on it completely. This is the main reason why the US version is clearly not a remake as you've been so keen to suggest it is, and the proof that it brings something to the table that the Swedish version doesn't (the whole story). But you wouldn't know that if you hadn't read the books.

    In short, I think the directors responsibility in a story like this is to the fans of the books. One director kept his side of the bargain, one didn't.

  • Comment number 89.

    The point of remaking TGWTDT was to open the eyes of the insular American masses to the joys of great European storytelling.

    The reason, however, was heavily flawed as what they saw was a stylish, compelling and mostly very good example of AMERICAN storytelling. Alas, Hollywood seems incapable of retaining the essence and integrity of great films when it remakes them for its own audience, to wit the complete rewriting of the 'revelation' surrounding the lost family member is tantamount to re-imagining the Christmas story with Joseph giving birth and Mary as pole dancer.

    Financially it was probably not the best move for the studio but maybe, just maybe, Fincher's version will encourage a few enlightened viewers to venture into the exciting wilds of the original film and beyond to the wonderful world of films outside Hollywood.

    [Steg-off-ill-ist]

  • Comment number 90.

    Personally, I find it really difficult to watch films with subtitles at the cinema because I can't take in the whole screen at once. I'm happy to watch subtitles on a laptop or tv at home, though.

    I haven't seen either film, but did consider going to see the American remake. My problem was that it was on over Christmas, and it's hardly a Christmas-y film. If it was coming out now, I think more people would have taken notice of it and the box office figures might have been better.

  • Comment number 91.

    As a late teenager I used to watch a lot of late night terrestrial TV movies with subtitles, many starring the likes of Alain Delon. I have never forgotten that they were on the whole brilliant, and there have been many delights out there for people who want to seek them out. Check out the German masterpiece 'Heimat' as well, which is simply magnificent. I'm amused that Mark seems to have got a bit of stick this week - firstly, I don't think he is saying that the merit of a film has to be based on box office takings - i simply think he is correctly stating that a 'hit' film can only be deemed these days in terms of box office which of course it can. And people are pulling him up on the use of the phrase 'remake' for TGWTDT - maybe 'reinterpretation' is a better word - but Fincher's version is not the first to hit the screen so to some degree it is indeed a remake. The dumbing down of cinema in America will continue unabated (just like British TV) so subtitles will never encourage stateside cinema goers to make the leap of faith. But dumbing down has been going on for years - the Michael Caine / Richard Gere 1980s political thriller 'The Honorary Consul' was renamed in America 'Beyond The Limit' because they didn't think Americans would understand what a 'consul' was!

  • Comment number 92.

    I had seen the original version here in Finland, with Finnish subtitles and Finnish isn't even my main language, but I was able to understand and even like the film. When I heard about the remake/US version, I thought I'd give it try and see if I missed out something that I didn't "catch" when watching the original.

    To my disappointment this remake was kinda boring, even visually, and full of irritating details such as: bad accents (this is the English version, right? Don't try to sound like a Swedish talking English!) and McDonald's Happy Meals (bizarre product placement!).

    I completelly agree with Mark in the sense that if you are gonna remake, then gimme something interesting (ex.: John Carpenter's The Thing and Cronenberg's The Fly). And that was the problem with the remake: nothing really interesting, and that's it.

    As far as the box office goes, I really don't care if the film is doing well or not, many films (like the ones I mentioned above) weren't hits when they came out, it doesn't really reflect on the quality of films, just what the general audience likes. Obviously the studio/producers will now think twice before starting to make the second part.

  • Comment number 93.

    It can only be a good thing that there are growing numbers of people willing to 'put up' with subs. Sadly, I still have maddening discussions trying to convince some friends and family to watch any subtitled film. One person I know still refuses to watch Pan's Labyrinth (a family member - they couldn't possibly be my friend) because it's "got stupid subtitles".

    Is this just stubborness? They can all read, so they're not refusing out of shame or a fear of looking stupid. And the films themselves aren't the problem because, no matter how good the movie on offer, they just aren't tempted and instantly disregard it. So what's the solution? I don't know, I'm asking. Come on, Kermode. You're a doctor. How can I fix these people?

  • Comment number 94.

    Apologies if somebody has already made the point but: As I understand it the Swedish version wasn't even made as a movie, is was made as a TV show, and Dr K you say "apart from improved visuals" - isn't that a rather major part of the movie watching experience?, spectacular cinematic's can make or break a film, and whether you like it or not having to read subtitles does take you attention away from appreciating both the visuals and the dialogue

  • Comment number 95.

    Interesting, but if you think carefully, this particular video is really just about business. I mean, unless you're desperately worried about who likes what, why should we care what Americans and Hollywood do with films? There is a cultural discussion to be had, but it's not strongly evident in this piece.

  • Comment number 96.

    The best way to observe and understand other countries and cultures is through their many films. It’s really the next best thing to going there. I grew up watching Hollywood type, turn right and left with the script stuff, but I got bored at usually knowing it all, and I am no soothsayer. Most of the stuff I watch these days will have subtitles. Someone recently told me they needed to be entertained, rather than informed or educated by films. I think I was being highly pretentious by saying a movie buff was someone who knew very much about mainstream films, whereas a cinephile knew much of that, but also knew a good deal more about the world of art house and subtitled cinema. I wasn’t making a judgement at all, for all I watched for half my adult life was action films. I was trying to illustrate my own personal view of the phrases, and really the fact that I dislike them both, but when they are used, that’s how I saw them to mean. It got me thinking though. Most people just want to go to the cinema and shove their brain into neutral for 90 minutes. They want to be entertained. Well, I can be in that same mood much of the time, but I will yearn for some cultural vegetables if I can’t get them.

  • Comment number 97.

    If Americans don't like subtitles why do they spend so much time on Facebook? Film is a visual medium, adding visual style to a movie is not 'adding nothing'. you say its the same performance by both actresses yet rooney mara got the oscar nod maybe because her acting wasn't in the peripheral vision while the dialogue was being read. the book was translated into English from Swedish and the proletariat wasn't looked down on for not learning a foreign in language. at the same time maybe people who wouldn't have watched the original will watch it now. Trent Reznor's score added not nothing as well. (sorry for the double negative that's how passionate I am)

  • Comment number 98.

    Well, first, to address something that others have already brought up, Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" was a re-adaptation, not a remake, although the reasons it was "re-adapted" are fairly obvious, so that's kind of an empty point to make.

    I understand your point about pointless remakes, Mark, I really do. But I really think you could not have possibly picked a worse example to bring this up than "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Not only are you falling back on the fallacy that box office receipts correlate to superior works (if the American version of "TGWTDT" was an international success, you wouldn't have even bothered asking your fans this question), but your question is also obviously colored by your bias for one version of a film and against the second version.

    I admit, Fincher's film has its flaws, many of them major structural ones. But I will say this, I do not think the Swedish version of "TGWTDT" was without its own flaws and, in fact, I believe that Fincher's movie is a SUPERIOR artistic endeavor than Niels Arden Oplev's by-the-numbers, overhyped, made-for-T.V.-like melodrama.

    My reasons for this are two-fold:
    1) While Oplev did a very good job of constructing a thriller that still dealt with rape and murder in a frank and non-exploitative way, it fails to actually be a movie that addresses the systemic misogyny of modern patriarchal culture. Fincher's film, on the other hand, actually does this very well. By subverting some of the cliches of Oplev's version (the living Nazi of the family is actually the most friendly member in Fincher's version; the sex scene between Blomkvist and Salander actually feels MORE unsettling than the scene when Salander is anally raped; the juxtaposition between Salander and Blomkvist's daughter in a story ABOUT INCESTUOUS RAPE; etc.), Fincher actually constructs a movie that more effectively confronts the audience with a simple truth that Oplev's version failed to address: "Misogyny is not the sole domain of violent rapists and psychopaths; we all contribute to the casual dehumanization and violation of women in a patriarchal society."
    2) The script that Fincher chose and the way he chose to direct are VASTLY more interesting than Oplev's version. I like how you only pass on Fincher's film as being "okay" and adding nothing to Oplev's narrative except visuals, when the way Fincher directs the story could not be any farther from Oplev's. Once again, this relates to Fincher making a point VISUALLY about the reality of misogyny and patriarchy outside of the world of pulpy suspense-thrillers. But what Fincher does is completely evacuate any moment of tension that might arise in a suspense-thriller. The most obvious example *SPOILER ALERT* comes when Salander is going to kill Martin. Just like in Oplev's film, Martin careens off the road and is trapped in the car. Unlike Oplev's version, Fincher chooses to deny Salander either the satisfaction of shooting Martin OR EVEN THE SATISFACTION OF WATCHING HIM BURN TO DEATH. Instead, the car simply blows up, and Salander walks away disappointed in much the same way that the audience feels disappointed. *END SPOILER* This scene really illustrates a lot about why Fincher's film is so daring and special and why Oplev's simply is not. Oplev was simply constructing a good thriller, it's FINCHER - the AMERICAN - who is actually subverting the audience's notions about what a thriller is and should do.

    I understand the frustration of seeing every famous foreign film getting an unnecessary remake, but I'm afraid this is a case where we simply aren't admitting that it's possible that a remake (no matter how recent) can greatly expand upon the material of a previous film. Furthermore, I really don't see how we can even compare the two films and come out saying that Oplev's version is artistically superior and more deserving of international recognition. It's Fincher's film that is exciting and different, not Oplev's. Fincher's "unnecessary remake" is the one that deserves repeat viewings, not Oplev's. In fact, Oplev's movie is kind of quaint and forgettable in comparison. I don't really know that I ever have the desire to see it again, despite enjoying it. Fincher's film, on the other hand, that might be one of two films from last year (the other being "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy") that I actually want in my home video collection so that I can watch it again and again.

  • Comment number 99.

    I agree with you Mark that the Swedish version is so much better. I've seen both films and personally I think it's disgusting and arrogant that the Academy have given an oscar nod to Rooney Mara in her ENGLISH speaking role, and last year completely ignored Noomi Rapace.

  • Comment number 100.

    original good, remake bad...i get it mark, i've read your book

 

Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.