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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Violence and Murder = Entertainment Tonight!

Along with millions of others I was completely enthralled by the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy and its heroine Lisbeth Salander. I confess to being an ardent fan of Scandinavian crime fiction and have devoured the entire Swedish Wallander series by Henning Manning and the Norwegian Jo Nesbo's rather dubious Harry Hole detective thrillers.

Early in January my sister-in-law and I went to the cinema to see the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which had been recently released. I had not seen the 2009 Swedish version of the film, but I had been  told that it was excellent -- with lots of praise going to the actress who played Lisbeth Salander, Noomi Rapace. The last review I'd read on the American film was that it was very well done -- especially if you had not seen the Swedish version.

The American movie is very good and I am glad to have seen it. Broadly speaking, the story in the Millennium Trilogy is one about violence to women and it is at times quite brutal. Lisbeth Salander is a victim of this kind of brutality and her character and her response are what makes the stories so compelling. I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo two years ago, and as with almost everything I read, after time my memory of the details of the story was vague. But there were aspects of the story that I really didn't remember at all. I wanted to see the Swedish version of the films so that I could compare the first two and was able to get all 3 for a very good price on Amazon. Last night I watched that version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I had not realized that these films were made to be shown on Swedish Television and as a consequence each book in made into two films, each 89 minutes long. The American cinema version is 158 minutes.

In my opinion, both films are good and Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara are each incredible in their performances. Rapace has a colder take on the role -- but it is possible that this is more authentically Swedish -- and the differences are really only 'shades of difference'. At least to me. The Swedish version was definitely closer to the story in the book. Daniel Craig is a more attractive actor but I couldn't say he was better in the part.

I would never have believed how much I would enjoy seeing a woman exact her revenge on a man. It is quite a shock to realize that I was actually cheering her on -- in the book and the films. I amused me to look around the movie theatre and see the enjoyment that was evident on the faces of women of all ages -- some quite elderly as Lisbeth 'took care of business'! I'm glad though that I'd read the book and knew what was coming. The other thing is that I watched both films that made up the first book and then I went to bed -- it didn't make for a good night's sleep as I kept going over different parts of the story.

I can't help but think it interesting to consider how we might look at a Swedish version of Gone with the Wind or to stay with a similar genre, Goldfinger ... It must be very odd to watch the American film if you are Swedish. One thing though, unlike most of us, they will understand the English and not have to read subtitles!

21 comments:

  1. We very seldom see a film. Maybe it is time we changed our ways! Diane

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  2. Hello Katherine:
    Well, one of us is a devotee of Stieg Larsson and the other finds it all too brutal, no prizes for guessing which of us is the groupie!! We have not seen either of the film versions [the groupie would have to find a cinema friend to go with] but feel sure that we should prefer the Swedish version. It was shown in Budapest, but there it is shown in the original language with Hungarian subtitles, a little too challenging for our linguistic skills!!

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    1. Well there is always Amazon -- that's seems to be how I most often get to see films! Oh and television of course!

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  3. I haven't seen either movie but I did read the first book in the series. The first 125 pages were tedious beyond belief but then things finally picked up and the race to the conclusion was very satisfying. I doubt I'll read e others in the series.

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    1. For me both films were very well done. I didn't find the first book tedious at all -- but I can understand that some might find it so. The second and third books are really part one and part two of the same story. I read them in the summer and found them perfect to read while basking in the sun!

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  4. I loved the books...can't wait to see the films.

    SP

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    1. I think you should enjoy them -- keeping in mind that there will be some changes!

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  5. I've read the books and found them riveting. Can't say I'll see the movies, though, unless it's by accident, when they're on TV ...if they make it.

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  6. Oh, yeah. I guess I should also mention I was rooting for Lisbeth all the way and thinking I would always want her on my side.

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    1. I would definitely not want her working against me! I expect they will get to TV -- but I would expect them to be shown late!

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  7. Interesting! I have not read the book, nor seen the movie. Your review may just do the trick for me.

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  8. After raving about the first book, being very enthusiastic about the second, I am now getting to be rather more lukewarm about the third. I am half way through and find that it could do with cutting. The characters are less authentic (apart from the main protagonists) and the conspiracy theory is beginning to bore me a tad. But I will persevere.

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    1. I agree with you about the third book -- I can't help but think it is really one book. One man's conspiracy theory is another man's best seller!

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  9. I just couldn't get on with the first book and gave up so I've not bothered with the others. Didn't like the Wallender TV series either. Just as well we don't all like the same things.

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  10. Did you see the Swedish series or the English one with Kenneth Branagh? As to your last comment -- as the French say, Vive la difference!!

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  11. Hi Broad. You've obviously really enjoyed the film versions as you did the original books. Sadly I'm not equipped to comment on them as I haven't read any of them (nor the Wallender books/TV adaptation)and must admit I haven't been tempted to by either reviews or blurb. I think it's probably because though I read a lot of crime fiction, I'm not drawn to the noir genre which these probably fall into. As you say, vive la difference! :-)

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    1. I must admit, I often wonder about my own taste in being so fond of these 'noir genres'. I do find though that if there is graphic detail, I skip over those parts!

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  12. I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me. I got about halfway through the first book and put it away. Couldn't stand the protagonist which left me disliking everyone she came in contact with...but since everyone on earth raves about the book (and now movies)I was getting worried about my taste in books. From the comments above, glad to see I'm not the only one who was not sent into raptures...and yes, isn't it great we are all different!

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    1. There is a niggle in my memory of my reaction to Lisbeth at the beginning of the saga -- that I didn't think I liked her -- it was as the story progressed that I began to really care about her -- unfortunately, the books have been left in France so I can't just wander over to my bookcase and check it out!

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  13. Dear Broad,
    Like Perpetua, I haven't read the books or seen the films. And like her, also, it's because I suspect they are examples of the "noir" genre that doesn't appeal to me in reading or in watching movies.

    But your reading of the series and your watching the movies have made me want to check out from the library some movies made from books and see the differences between them.

    Peace.

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  14. I think that there has been some improvement in making books into movies. It can be quite interesting comparing the two and reading different critics reaction --

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Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!