2016.71: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- Extended Version (Blu-Ray)
Packaged as part of the Millennium trilogy box, this is the first part of the trilogy and the only one of the books/films currently to have been (ill-advisedly) remade in the West. As I haven’t read the books, and having seen the theatrical cut some years ago now, I couldn’t tell you what the real differences are between that edition and this extended one, other than note something like thirty minutes additional running time. Its just been too long since I saw that original edition. Some scenes certainly seemed new to me but I couldn’t be sure- at any rate the film doesn’t at all drag even with that extra half-hour so that should be some indication to how well implemented the extra scenes are and how integral they are to the plot. Of course, part of my confusion no doubt results from memories of David Fincher’s later remake; there are two previous versions floating dimly in my memory with different casts and locations, a uniquely confusing situation. Indeed, watching this extended original has me rather keen to revisit that Fincher version to compare the two.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on the bestselling novel by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson, the first of three books (and now films) in the “Millennium Trilogy”. Larsson was a journalist who turned to novelizations late in his career,and who died from a heart attack at the relatively young age of 50, adding a certain mystique to the author and the books, which became something of a publishing phenomenon. Screen versions were inevitable, but it was rather fitting that before Hollywood came calling the Swedes got to make their own version, pretty much filmed in the same locations as the book was set. With a native cast and language, the films were pretty much definitive and faithful, particularly in their full, extended versions as presented here.
Some years having now passed since those heady days of publishing-world hysterics when everyone was reading the books or watching the theatrical editions of the film versions, its easier to evaluate the achievement here. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a fine, taut thriller with a compelling mystery and great central characters, and surprisingly dark for a mainstream piece. Indeed, it’s the characters that are the most rewarding here, making for rather unusual protagonists- a middle-aged journalist and an introverted, antisocial 24-year old computer hacker.The investigation is almost incidental; the plot is clearly servicing the characters and their dynamics, setting things up for the later books/films, so in some ways it’s actually difficult to judge this film as a seperate entity. Inevitably that lends this version an advantage over the Fincher remake that failed to get its own sequels. That one perhaps stands forever isolated, while this one leads to The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, two films filmed back to back soon after the first (all three made over a year-long period).
At any rate, this is an extended version that does seem to add to the original edit and it certainly doesn’t suffer from a slower pace or dragging scenes/superfluous nonsense that some extended cuts suffer from. It all works so well you rather wonder how they managed to edit things down for the theatrical cut, or indeed what was cut at all. So yes, this does seem to be the superior version, and is thoroughly enjoyable (albeit it remains a rather disturbing slice of humanity, so maybe ‘enjoyable’ isn’t really the right word).