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Salander on the big screen

'Dragon Tattoo' film maintains book's character

Long ago, the drumbeat started. It was faint at first, but over weeks and months it gradually built, and by December it turned loud and unavoidable.

The beat consisted of voices, scattered throughout our land and other lands, offering variations on the same theme of danger and warning that a great desecration was about to descend upon us.

All this was about a movie – but not just any movie. This was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, director David Fincher’s long-awaited take on the first book in the Stieg Larsson “Millennium” trilogy that has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

The popularity of Larsson’s material was daunting enough. What made it tougher for Fincher was the fact that Dragon Tattoo already had a big-screen life thanks to a 2009 Swedish version that many film fans and critics drooled over.

Given that, they said over and over, why does Hollywood have to try and ruin it?

Mainly, for the simple reason that most people never saw the Swedish Girl. Nothing nefarious there – it’s just that English-speaking moviegoers have a difficult time warming up to any movie with subtitles from beginning to end.

But the diehards didn’t care. They mostly fretted that Noomi Rapace was a perfect Lisbeth Salander and Micheal Nyqvist an ideal Mikael Blomkvist, so anyone else attempting to play them, no matter how good, were just ripping it off.

Heard this story before? You have, over and over, in entertainment, especially music. Whatever is done first is always the best, and anything that follows is a dilution of the product, and eventually you go the dark side and sell out.

So Fincher went in with all kinds of strikes against him, not to mention the fact that, with any movie adopted from any mega-popular book, everyone who read it is looking for variations from the original.

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