The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- Extended Version (2009)

drag22016.71: 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.

rag1Some 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).

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4 thoughts on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- Extended Version (2009)

  1. I enjoyed (as you say, not quite the right word!) the theatrical versions of these, but I remember being put off the extended box set because the US release had more substantial special features (not that I get round to watching those too often these days). I figure I’ll bit the bullet one way or another someday, so it’s good to know it’ll be worth it.

    1. Yeah, well worth a watch, its a great set of films. As for the extras, well, I haven’t seen many of the few extras that came with this box (a few featurettes on a seperate DVD) so a more substantial set would be wasted on me anyway. Its funny with extras- they make a disc purchase so much more compelling and worthy of the expenditure, but most of the time I never get around to them, I remember in the early days of DVD, I was absolutely entranced by commentary tracks. These days I never listen to them, which is frustrating, but its the sheer time and attention involved when I have so many films/tv shows to watch as it is.

      So anyway, I’ve been trying not to get seduced by extras, and have been avoiding purchases as much as I can. Adding to the Unwatched PIle is a bad habit and its one I’m intending to break. Hence all the Amazon VOD stuff and old Blu-rays I’ve been digging out (one or two on the shelf have been there for years and ARE STILL SHRINK-WRAPPED). Horrors!

      1. I guess it’s force of habit that I still aim to get the edition with the best/most extras, though I’m far more likely to actually watch them if there aren’t very many! I think it was last year that I started a little pile of things I really fancied watching the special features on, but then quickly stopped adding to it because it got too big.

        I used to shake my head whenever I saw stuff still in shrink-wrap at my parents house, but recently I’ve started doing that too. I used to be religious about popping every disc in my player just to check it worked (after a couple of bad experiences with discs I’d not got round to watching for a good while), but then I got so lax with that I started a list of discs I needed to check, and now that list is so insanely long I’m not even going to say how many discs are on it. Which entirely defeats its purpose, of course.

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