Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Director Not Happy With English Language Adaptation

By Eric Eisenberg 2010-11-08 18:23:40discussion comments
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For most of the past year, fans were up-in-arms as the release date for Matt Reeves' Let Me In approached. A remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In from director Tomas Alfredson, fans didn't see the reasoning behind the remake and believed that it would only service to besmirch the original film. Then October 1 arrived and people realized something: Let Me In is a damn fine adaptation of the same book that Alfredson had based his film on. Perhaps someone should let The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev know about that.

Oplev recently gave an interview to Word & Film where he expressed distress over the English language adaptation currently being made by David Fincher. He starts the conversation about the new film by discussing Sony's PR and saying that their work is discrediting the performance by Noomi Rapace, who played heroine Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish language films. He then went on to comment about other people's outrage over the "remake," saying:
"Even in Hollywood there seems to be a kind of anger about the remake, like, ‘Why would they remake something when they can just go see the original?’ Everybody who loves film will go see the original one. It’s like, what do you want to see, the French version of La Femme Nikita or the American one? You can hope that Fincher does a better job."

I must say that these comments come across as quite unfair towards the currently in-production Fincher film in many ways, but let's take it one by one, shall we?

First of all, it's completely unfair of Oplev to make comments about Sony public relations, simply because what they are doing is their job. What exactly does he expect them to say - that Rooney Mara is a great actress but is no Noomi Rapace? Nobody is criticizing Rapace's performance and, in fact, the role has already earned her quite a few jobs in Hollywood. This is simply a case of a director being too over protective of his star, even when she doesn't need it.

Next is the reference to Fincher's film as a "remake." Much like Reeves did with Let Me In, Fincher isn't remaking the Swedish film, but is instead simply adapting the source material (see his comments on the matter here). Having both read Stieg Larsson's novel and seen Oplev's first film, I can say that this is entirely doable. Because of the book's girth (it's nearly 600 pages), it would be a challenge for any writer to shrink down the story to a manageable length, but even in two and a half hours, Oplev cut out some major plot points in the story, such as Mikael Blomkvist's relationship with Erika Berger and dedication to the Millennium newspaper. It's not only possible, but likely that Fincher's film will explore areas that Oplev's did not.

Lastly, there's the reference to La Femme Nikita that is entirely unwarranted and, in many ways, a cheap shot. This comparison lines up the man who directed Zodiac, Fight Club and Se7en against the guy who made Short Circuit and Wargames (neither are awful films, but there is truly no comparison). Nikita also happened to be an original story by Besson that Point of No Return did directly work from, as opposed to an original source. It's apples and oranges.

I don't have an issue with Oplev wanting to protect the sanctity of his work - I wish other directors were as passionate about their films as he seems to be - but his comments here are completely misdirected. If Fincher's film comes out and reveals itself to be a dud, Oplev will have full rights to come out and say, "You should watch my movie instead." The English language adaptation is not an attack on the Swedish language film and it's a mystery why Oplev is perceiving it that way. Would things be fine and dandy if his version of the story was the only one out there? Absolutely - it's a quality film and a much better-than-average mystery story. If Larsson, may he rest in peace, were the one complaining, that would be a horse of a different color. But the truth is that Niels Arden Oplev's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo may have absolutely nothing to do with David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
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