At this stage everybody knows that there is this book written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson called The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. And about 99% of people know that such book, along with the other two in the so-called Millennium Trilogy, have been adapted into Swedish films which were released a year or so ago. Hey, perhaps more people know about the movie than the book. Who cares. Well, a large portion of the aforementioned people should know that an American remake is currently in the works. Most people I know are against the old Hollywood habit where every conceivable good foreign movie is remade in English and dumbed down for the US audience. Indeed I agree with them most of the time. However, in this case I think we are in for a major surprise. Hit the jump to see why I think The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas is going to blow us all away.
1. The Source is Immaterial
It's difficult to go wrong with a story that has achieved bestseller status in book form, as well as successful adaption into film. On the contrary though, this may mean that the film has higher standards to live up to, and fans of the books or the original film may never accept a remake. Either way, we aren't dealing with some crappy story here.
What did I just write? Nonsense, that's what. To be honest, the source material has never really grabbed me. Nor did the original films, which is why I am happy to report that the movie apparently departs quite substantially from the book. They have changed the ending (and according to Fincher, improved it), and some other stuff too. So I am keen, since we are obviously not dealing with a simple shot-for-shot remake here.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the screenplay was adapted by Steve Zaillan. He has 2 Oscar nominations and one win. Nice!
2. David Fincher is Directing
David Fincher is awesome. End of story. Watch all of his movies if you haven't seen them all already. His view on film is probably why I like him so much and why he is such a perfect choice to bring this story, which has more than its fair share of scarring subject matter, to life: "I don't know how much movies should entertain. To me, I'm always interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about Jaws (1975) is the fact that I've never gone swimming in the ocean again."
Okay the exception to the rule is maybe Alien 3, his first film: but this one can be overlooked considering the balls-up that production was. It was disaster upon disaster, including major script changes (during production), millions wasted on sets that were never used, massive production delays and all sorts of other nonsense that was beyond Fincher's control. He eventually disowned the film, citing constant studio interference, and actually walked out of production before editing began. So, with that caveat out the way, here are his movies…
3. Rooney Mara is Lisbeth Salander
Before the American film version, the character of Lisbeth Salander was listed on Entertainment Weekly's Top 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years, making it one of the most sought after roles in Hollywood last year. Hitherto unknown Rooney Mara (who played the girl who dumps Jesse Eisenberg in the opening scene of the Social Network) beat out just about every female up-and-comer, including Carey Mulligan, Ellen Page, Emily Browning, Mia Wasikowska and Scarlet Johansson to win the coveted role.
Apparently the audition process was positively light hearted. According to Fincher, “We had five or six girls audition with the rape scene. The girls had to kick a dildo up his ass. That’s Salander’s big scene, and we had to see if they could do it.” You may remember that scene from the Swedish version. If you don't, seek help now.
And it appears the crew considered every detail. From an article in W Magazine:
The (temporary) dragon tattoo proved to be tricky: Fincher did not want it to look Asian or like it came out of a comic book. He finally settled on a dragon that could have been drawn by Escher–more like an engraving and quite beautiful. In one "very intense" day, Mara's eyebrows were bleached, her hair chopped, and her lip, brow, nose, and nipple pierced. "I didn't even have pierced ears," Mara said, still sounding a little shocked. "They put four holes in each ear, and, weirdly, that hurt the most. It was all very organized. With David, everything is measured and carefully considered. He wants what he sees in his head.
4. The Supporting Cast is Outstanding
18 Character profiles were recently posted on the official website. Check some of them out below (and the rest over at the official site) and tell me they didn't hit the nail on the head each time.
5. All Stops Have Been Pulled
Looking at what's been said, I'm sure you've figured this out by now. But they (being everyone from the cast to the crew to the studio) have seriously pulled out all the stops on this one. For example, the movie was shot in Sweden during one of the coldest winters in over 20 years. The budget was close to $100 million (which for an R-rate thriller, is HUGE). It's summed up nicely by Daniel Craig in an interview for Esquire:
It's as adult as you can possibly make it. This is adult drama. I grew up, as we fucking all did, watching The Godfather and that, movies that were made for adults. And this is a $100 million R-rated movie. Nobody makes those anymore. And Fincher, he's not holding back. They've given him free rein. He showed me some scenes recently, and my hand was over my mouth, going, Are you fucking serious?
Loving it! My favourite example is this one though (from the intro to an interview Fincher did with the Hollywood Reporter):
Finally, we reach his spare, modern office, centered on a wooden desk as imposing as Fincher himself. Warming up -- as much as he ever allows himself -- he takes out an iPad and clicks on a photo he's planning to use for the Dragon poster. It shows actor Daniel Craig half-hidden behind co-star Rooney Mara, who's looking directly into the camera. Her hair is spiky, her face pierced with rings, her body covered in tattoos. It's black and white and beautiful, but there's no way in hell any studio will ever let Fincher use it, as he knows.
Because Mara is naked from the waist up.
That article was published on 2 February this year. And what do you know… a few months later the poster you see below is released. Too awesome for words. When last did you see a movie poster that is NSFW? Daniel Craig wasn't kidding about free reign! And it seems the studios surprised even Fincher.
6. The Poster is NSFW
I said it all above. That safety pin is real.
7. The Trailers
The teaser trailer (below) made huge waves when a leaked red band version hit the internet before the official version. I still don't know whether Sony did it on purpose as a marketing tool, or if it really was leaked. The merits of either option are debatable, who cares. Well, that teaser must be one of the best of the year. Shivers up the spine I tell you. From The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas tagline to the awesome cover of Immigrant Song by Trent Reznor, that teaser has to get you psyched!
And then came the trailer the other day. What the teaser lacked in subject matter, this 3:45 beast more than made up for. Then again, it played more like a sizzle real than a proper trailer, and the teaser still gets the blood pumping a bit more. But the purpose of this one is to introduce the viewer to the production and to lure you into the intricate world Fincher and his crew have created. Plus it cured the biggest worry - the fact that they were filming in English, with Swedish accents. It sounds pretty cool! And so does the soundtrack, which brings me to the next reason…
8. Trent Reznor is Composing
Soundtrack by Trent Reznor: front man of legendary band Nine Inch Nails and winner of an Academy Award for Best Original Score on his first attempt (for the Social Network). Count me the hell in! A snipped of the score has been released (you can also hear some of the score in the trailer)…
Here's another one… is it really just an insider's blog or is it genius marketing from Sony? I don't know. However, the quality of the content in http://www.mouth-taped-shut.com/ is such that I think it must be official. There's even a clip where David Fincher himself is being filmed in the editing room. You think the holder of that camera would not have been dee-stroyed by now if the big man didn't want to be filmed? Exactly. Oh, and the behind-the-scenes pics have Fincher's perfectionist fingerprints all over them. Anyway, check it out and see for yourself. Here are some of my favourite pics (click for a larger look):
10. The Muppets!
Ah, the Muppets. Why, I am sort of lost for words. The marketing campaign for the latest Muppets movie has taken aim at a few huge productions this year. Green Lantern (fail). Hangover 2 (fail). Well, they have now targeted this one too. Does that mean it will too be a fail? Not a chance. No Muppet can tell the future. But I am still keen for The Pig With The Froggy Tattoo:
For good measure, and as if the reasons above are not enough, here is the cover of Empire Magazine for November 2011 (via Mouth-Taped-Shut). With Craig and Mara looking good as expected...
And that's about it! Apart from all the signs pointing to a great movie, I get a good feeling about this one for different reasons. I suspect that it is because despite not being a major fan of the story or the original movie, this remains one of my most anticipated films of 2011. Or maybe that I am secretly in love with Rooney Mara.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo opens in the US on 21 December2011. No release date has been set in South Africa yet. However, I expect that it will be quite soon after the US release. The originals were very popular in SA, so I suspect Ster Kinekor / Nu Metro will want to make a plan.