Movie Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy

I thought about doing each movie in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy separately, but decided since it was basically one story arch that I would combine them all together in one movie review. And apparently, it’s actually the called the Millennium Series.

I watched the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest last Saturday, 18 January. One of my buddies was reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo the last time they visited me on the Island of Doom and had some interesting things to say about the book. And then when I was out adventuring in California last weekend, I saw the entire trilogy on the Netflix of the house I was staying in. So naturally, I decided that I should do a marathon and watch all three back-to-back.

I guess the very first thing that I have to say about this series is that it is not a happy story. One of the key and major plot points throughout all three movies is a very unpleasant rape scene. Not that there’s ever anything positive about any rape scene, but I’ve heard that the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has the rape scene a bit watered down. Regardless, it was a difficult scene to watch.

The character development in this series was just amazing. Lisbeth Salander really went through a lot of crappy times, but she didn’t allow those times to make her the monster that she could have become. I think that’s probably the strongest, most important lesson that I saw in this series. Lisbeth had every reason to cut ties with humanity and to do a lot of damage to the other characters. Instead of killing her new guardian after he rapes her, she just takes what I would think of as justified revenge to even the playing field and get her life back. There are a couple of times when she has the opportunity to kill those that have caused her such extensive injury, both physically and to her ability to live her life, but she doesn’t kill anyone. This says huge things about her character and the fact that she seeks justice and not violence.

This story was remarkably real. When I say that, I mean that it wasn’t a magic story where everything was clear-cut, the heroes never suffered, and everything ended happily ever after. Lisbeth gets shot, beat up, and abused in pretty much every sense of the word. She spends a lot of time needing medical care. She even winds up in the hospital for an extended period of time, a situation which I can at least partially relate to. Though, when I was there, it was only for about a week and I had complete freedom of movement, including having visitors and being able to use my electronic devices. But Lisbeth uses her time in the hospital to get stronger and to physically recover from her various injuries. I was severely impressed and motivated by her routine while she was recovering from a plethora of really terrible injuries. I was almost motivated enough to start doing some of that stuff on my own for my own physical therapy.

I think another really interesting point is the difference between journalists and police officers. In some ways, it could be seen that all these crimes were discovered by the journalist and not by the police and some might think that looks badly upon the police officers. I disagree. Mikael Blomkvist was able to come up with so much information because he devoted his entire life to the search for information on very specific topics while the police have to divide their attention between a variety of places in order to protect and serve a greater number of people. Mikael had the time and resources to devote to finding the truth of the matters while the police officers in the series had to split their time and resources between solving this one case and solving so many others.

I don’t know how well the movies followed the books, but I imagine that they did at least a fair job of staying close to the characters and the general, over-arching plot. I think the movies have inspired me to go and find the books and read them at some point when I have the time and inclination to find them, just to see how closely things relate.

Overall, even though they were very unhappy movies, I did find them interesting and this is probably a series I would watch again. I might even see if I can find all three of them and purchase them because sometimes, you really just need a story that’s real with a real ending to help you get grounded back in your own life.

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About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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One Response to Movie Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy

  1. Brijesh says:

    I’ve read all three books and have seen all three films (Swedish versions). Rod & I saw this film on Christmas Eve with some good ferinds. Even though I knew the plot and was prepared for violence against Salander, I was still troubled by it and could barely keep my eyes open during those scenes. But, I thought Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig were excellent and I’d go so far as to say I prefered the Hollywood film over the Swedish. I’m can’t wait to see the other two films. I was terribly disappointed with the third and hope Hollywood does a better job.

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