Why Isn't This A Film? - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

What have we got here then?

If you haven't heard of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo then your membership to the Pop Culture club has been well and truly revoked. Stieg Larsson's book is the natural successor to the Dan Brown phenomenon and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

OK fine. What’s it about?

The titular Girl is Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker for a security firm who begins to investigate journalist Mikael Blomkvist, embroiled in a libel case bought by industry magnate Hans-Erik Wennerström. Blomkvist, in turn is investigating the unsolved disappearance some years ago of Harriet Vagner on behalf of her Uncle, Henrik.

Interesting. Is there something more?

Although the main plot of the book follows the investigation in to Harriet Vagner's disappearance, the feud between Blomkvist and Wennerström is always in the background. In order to get Blomkvist on to the case, Vagner offers information that will shed negative light on the otherwise clean Wennerström, creating a driving secondary narrative and plenty of motivation for Blomkvist. Several personal relationships are also developed down dark and occasionally disturbing paths during the course of the book as, inevitably, the stories cross and intertwine.

Save me the trouble then – is it any good?

For two thirds, the book is very entertaining with dark, serial killer-like, details adding large slices of threat to early treading. Some fairly unexpected and extreme sexual violence helps Larsson to make points about women's rights, sexuality and violence against them in Sweden - something which he is at pains to point out through little facts left throughout the chapters.

The mystery of Harriet's disappearance is compelling and told in a way that does have you successfully convinced that a number of things could have genuinely happened to her. All of this is well-wrapped in a story of familial and industry-related intrigue.


Towards the end the book starts to plod in to the pulp fiction territory it had otherwise so successfully avoided. Larsson starts to reveal characters thoughts which contain wisdoms such as 'she had the feeling today would be a very bad day indeed' and the eventual villain does his best impression of a Bond bad guy, pausing to explain his wicked crimes in full. The sexualised violence does not feel out of place but it is graphic and shocking and lends a much more threatening tone altogether to what would otherwise be a summer beach read.

What are its chances of being made as a film?

Well... erm... we have to admit that we're a little bit behind the times on this one - it already is a film! The book was adapted in Larsson's native Sweden in 2009 and starred Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace as Blomkvist and Salander respectively. A US-produced adaptation (different to a remake) is currently in the works with David Fincher attached to direct.

But who'd star in it?

There's a lot of speculation circling around at the moment about who is about to be cast in the US version, with Daniel Craig as Blomkvist the latest name to be speculatively linked. Carey Mulligan has been favoured for the Salander role since the remake was announced but concrete details on any of the roles remain unconfirmed. Craig and Mulligan are certainly the right ages for the two characters but with details remaining sketchy on what direction Fincher plans to take his adaptation, it's difficult to assess their suitability. If the film keeps the book's dark edges then it's possible that Mulligan will face a real challenge to shed her 'English rose' looks and sensibilities.

Other rumours have mentioned Kristen Stewart who has done fine work outside the Twilight films in Into The Wild and The Runaways and has worked with Fincher before on Panic Room. Her looks would certainly fit those of Salander and her ready-made 'edge' from her choices outside of the 'tweenage' vampire flicks would also fit right in. Michael Douglas hasn't worked with Fincher since The Game where the director got a terrific performance out of him. Although too old for the part of Blomqvist, he would make a great Henrik Vagner. Blomqvist himself is an extremely difficult casting choice but all of the names linked (Clooney, Mortensen, Pitt, Craig) would no doubt give it a good bash. Our favourite though would be Javier Bardem who is of the right age and stature and is almost certainly now approaching the point where he is ready to co-front a franchise.

Will it be any good?

The Swedish version of the film got generally very positive reviews, with Empire going as far as to give it five stars. The US version will inevitably suffer from comparisons by people who really liked the original and see no reason for a re-imagining. However, Fincher rarely produces a bad film and his attachment should guarantee some quality irrespective of the casting.

Anything else I should know about it?

Filming on the second book of the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire, has already finished in the Swedish camp and will be out in UK cinemas this summer, a full two years before the scheduled release of the US adaptation of the first book.

Why Isn't This A Film? is a regular Film Intel feature which takes a book (you know... one of those things with pages in, doesn't project on to a screen, makes small rustling noises), comic, video game or graphic novel and assesses its adaptation prospects. One day this feature will get something right and we will win something major and valuable. Possibly.


  1. OK...good points, but tapping this book in this post series leaves me slightly scratching my head. As you pointed out...it is a film.

    Perhaps this post should have been called "Why Isn't This an American Film?"

  2. Of course, a good point. But, my ability to run this series rather depends on how much one person can read and seeing as this is also the only thing I run regarding books and literature, I didn't want to pass up on the opportunity to comment on something I had enjoyed.

    With it being re-adapted I thought it was worth featuring it but again, you're absolutely right - there is an adaptation out their already which I'm very much looking forward to seeing.

  3. I saw the title of this post and was all prepared to set your ass straight, but now I got nothing to do except suggest:

    Winesburg, Ohio
    Infinite Jest
    The Beekeeper's Apprentice
    Skate Farm

  4. Simon - have seen your recommendations on the TS SPIVET post as well and tomorrow, I shall browse Amazon and buy one of your nods. If you happen to see this, let me know what my top pick should be. Looking forward to checking out something new!

  5. Well, Skate Farm is an American manga/graphic novel/whatever, Beeskeeper is an alternate-reality Sherlock Holmes tale, Infinite Jest is over a thousand pages long, so by default, and if any of the above don't tickle your fancy, Winesburg, Ohio is quite good.

  6. Just ordered Winesburg, Ohio. The Beekeeper's Apprentice sounded interesting as well but that and some of the others you mentioned on the other post seem difficult to get over here. Might have to do a bit of ebaying...

    Cheers for the recomendations!