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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2010)

A 2009 Swedish film directed by Niels Arden Oplev.

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Totally lives up to the hype. 94%

  • Aug 2, 2012
For the last two years or so, there's been a pretty large phenomenon relating to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I've consistently heard good things about the books and Swedish films, and fairly recently with David Fincher's adaptation of the TGWTDT books, I've had more people talk about it with me more. Finally, I decided to invest some time in my night tonight to watch the first Swedish film in its extended cut form, since it was free video for Amazon Prime users. Boy am I glad to have seen this, and I gladly would have paid to see it as well!!


A journalist named Mikael Blomkvist loses a libel case involving allegations he published against tycoon Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. While this happens, a surveillance agent named Lisbeth Salander is contracted to investigate Blomkvist. After her investigation, Lisbeth sends her findings to lawyer Dirch Frode, who's only client is an 82 year-old man named Henrik Vanger. Vanger hires Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of Harriet, his great niece, who vanished in 1966.


One of the best aspects to this film is that its characters are well-developed, believable, and have great chemistry. Of course, the stars of this show are Blomkvist and Salander. The latter is especially engaging since we see her as someone tough yet vulnerable (this makes for a realistic character). Near the beginning, we see Salander as a girl who's not one to be a pushover when a bunch of drunk male hooligans start scuffling with her and she beats them back. However, when her guardian has a stroke and is assigned a new guardian that forces her to perform sexual acts on him for her own money, she's forced to take it at first. Without spoiling much, you'll be glad to see when the tables are turned on her new guardian. Blomkvist is a good protagonist since you see him as a guy who just trying to do his job as a journalist, but gets shafted by a seedy tycoon and sees Vanger's offer as a way to get himself something good before he has to go to jail.

The supporting characters are solid as well. Henrik Vanger's family is confined to living on an island that's only accessible via bridge and without fitting into any cardboard cutouts, feel and act like people who live in a small place and keep themselves away from the rest of society. Without spoiling anything, let's just say that like any mystery-thriller worth its salt, some characters are totally unpredictable. Nils Bjurman, Salander's sexually-sadistic guardian, is excellent as a slimy character. I can keep going, but I think you get the picture.


Despite that the extended cut of this movie is 186 minutes long, it felt more like it was around 120 minutes because of how engaging the story and characters are. Also, much like the well-developed characters in a mystery-thriller film, the plotting of the story was so well-written that I was on the edge of my seat, hardly expecting anything that would happen to happenn. Because of how engaging everything else was, there were some scenes of legitimate tension going on near the end of the film. Also without spoiling much, I was a little worried around the 80% point of the film that some issues wouldn't be resolved in the end, but much to my surprise, these issues were resolved and done so in a way that didn't feel very rushed or incomplete.


Since I'm not a native speaker of the Swedish language, I can't really say what constitutes as "good acting" in Swedish, but I'll say that the actors did so well with their roles that the last thing on my mind was the acting. In particular, Michael Nyqvist (Blomkvist), Noomi Rapace (Salander), and Sven-Bertil Taube (Henrik Vanger) delivered some of the best performances in this film.


The cinematography in this movie is totally stunning. The shots of the streets in Stockholm and of the island where the Vanger family resides simultaneously drip with beauty and of griminess. The beauty in that there's lush shots of the Swedish countryside and winter, and the griminess when you learn about the ugly events that occur in some places.


The score for this film is really good. Like the plotting of the film, the score is slow and creeps up on you for an excellent build-up that dives into an excellent payoff when something truly exciting jumps out at you. The music perfectly fits the tone of the movie.


The theme I caught on most to this movie is that of anti-misogyny. I thought this theme was handled well because at first, I thought this would degenerate into baseless man-bashing, but that's not the case. The misogynistic male characters in this movie are all portrayed in believable strokes, which really helped the delivery of this theme.  It also helps that the protagonist, Blomkvist, isn't portrayed as an ideal "neutered" male that's made to be acceptable among feminists.

Also, corruption seems like a big theme since Blomkvist is convicted of libel even though he was on to a factual story for his magazine, Millenium. The corruption can even tie in a little with the anti-misogyny theme since a sadistic man like Bjurman is allowed to be a guardian on the government payroll, despite how awful he is.


This is NOT a movie for the kids to see. There's some scenes of strong violence, nudity, sex, and rape. There's scenes of mutilated corpses, shots of bare female chests and butts (and of male butts, too), and a hard to watch rape scene with Salander handcuffed and gagged while Bjurman rapes her. There's even a scene where a male gets tied up, gagged, and sodomized.


I honestly can't say if this movie follows the books well since I haven't read any of them, but just judging the movie strictly on its own terms, it's marvelous. I'll soon be checking out the two sequels, and do yourself a favor and seek out the extended cut of this movie since the extra time seems to be used perfectly. If you're an Amazon Prime user, there's no excuse to watch this now if you have some free time, since you can watch it for free. Otherwise, track down a physical or digital copy ASAP.

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More The Girl With the Dragon Tatto... reviews
review by . June 04, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
Sweeden's bright skies wiped away the sicking green night. How does that make you feel?
It's always hard to hear that when an American company is adapting a foreign film.  The general opinion is that it will often suck.  David Fincher's adaption though two years after this film was released proved that isn't always the case, and in any adaption there is always going to be comparisons between the two as to which one people like or which one is closer to the source material.  I haven't read the book yet, but depending on who you ask, either one is the case.   …
review by . July 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Imposingly Violent, Excellent Acting, Tight Plotting Sets a Tone of Alarm and Intimacy....
I have to say that Sweden is beginning to have a great reputation in adapting books into the silver screen. Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev helms “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (“Man som hatar kvinnor whose subtitle means “The Man Who Hates Women”) a Swedish drama-thriller based on the first book of the “Millennium Trilogy” written by the late Stieg Larsson which proved to be a world-wide hit. Hollywood is due to make its own adaptation of the book …
review by . April 29, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    In 2002, a case involving the disappearance of a young woman from nearly sixty years ago is re-opened by the girl's great granduncle, Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), who believes not only that his niece was murdered, but by a family member too. In the year of 1966, when she first disappeared, very thorough searches were conducted and nothing - nor no one - was found. Henrik has not been able to give up. He himself admits to sort of looking for his lost …
review by . November 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It's a rare occurrence when the film version can adequately capture the essence of the best selling book on which it's based, but, that's exactly what happened with this version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist are perfectly cast as Lisbeth and Blomkvist. They've had to ditch a lot of detail, and compress a lot of the action, of course, but that takes nothing away from the suspense of the original story. The supporting characters at Millenium, …
review by . April 17, 2010
posted in Reel Overseas
This might hurt a little
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO      Written by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg Directed by Niels Arden Oplev   Starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace      Mikael Blomkvist: As we’ve been sharing files recently, I assume you’re up to date.      Expectations are tricky to avoid when you watch a movie from the last year that has already generated enough international buzz to warrant a fast tracked American remake …
review by . July 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Perhaps it is the current need to see that evil eventually consumes itself that make films like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (AKA "Män som hatar kvinnor") so successful. Or it may be the posthumous fame given Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy (from which this film is 'Millennium: Part 1 - Men Who Hate Women') that has prepared an audience of believers. Whatever the reason this first installment (the other two installments have already been filmed and are ready for release) is being hailed as …
Quick Tip by . September 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I was so disappointed with this film. I can't imagine why it or the book has gotten so much praise. The characters lack any real motivation or psychology, the entire story is filled with giant plot holes, and almost every thriller cliche is employed without any restraint. Perhaps this is one of those cases where people assume it's good because it's in another language... The only praise I can give here is that the actors did a brilliant job fleshing out the weak characters.
review by . April 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Released just in time to happily mesh with the American publishing advent of the last book in the Millennium trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson, this film adaptation of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" should provide admirers of Lisbeth Salander (hacker extraordinaire and victim of a renegade faction of the Swedish social system) with more than enough fan-tastic material to orbit them into "Girl" heaven.    Director Niels Arden Oplev depicts a Sweden icy in its efficiency; its …
Quick Tip by . September 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Not having read the book (one of the few it seems) I had no idea what to expect. I thought it was a terrific movie: taut, compelling, really interesting characters, no plot holes, atmospheric, brutal, sexy, funny. All in all a great two and half hours that seemed much shorter, and with no fat to trim. Why after that only 4 stars - well, it's terrifically entertaining, but it's no Fanny and Alexander. OK? I'm wondering though, this movie could have been called The Girl with the Pierced …
Quick Tip by . September 06, 2010
Not having read the book (one of the few it seems) I had no idea what to expect. I thought it was a terrific movie: taut, compelling, really interesting characters, no plot holes, atmospheric, brutal, sexy, funny. All in all a great two and half hours that seemed much shorter, and with no fat to trim. Why after that only 4 stars - well, it's terrifically entertaining, but it's no Fanny and Alexander.  OK?      On second thought, this movie could have been called …
About the reviewer
David Kozak ()
I'm a morbid cynic who thinks very, very differently from most other people. Chances are, if the majority says X is the greatest in its category, I'll disagree with that notion, because I tend … more
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor, also known as Men Who Hate Women in English) is a 2009  Swedish film directed by Niels Arden Oplev. It is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by the late Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson, the first in his "Millennium Trilogy". By August 2009, it had been sold to 25 countries outside Scandinavia, most of them planning a release in 2010, and had been seen by more than 6 million people in the countries where it was already released.  The film was released in the United States on March 19th, 2010 by Music Box Films, which will also release the second and third films in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, later in 2010.
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Director: Niels Arden Oplev
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: July 6, 2010
Runtime: 152 minutes
Studio: Music Box Films Home Entertainment
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