Recently, I encountered a personal dilemma that made me question who I was. Am I still the Callum Scott that took Media Studies? Is the man you see before you the same man who pretended to love Gus Van Sant’s Elephant because he was trying to sleep with a film student? Are these few cubic feet of bones and blood and meat the same human being that hailed Hero as the best film of all time, as long as you watch it with subtitles rather than English dubbing?
As you can tell, when it comes to films, I’m pretty much an awful person. But my pretentiousness and ill-informed snobbery was put to the test when I watched the two different versions of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I’ve put off the confession for long enough; I preferred the Hollywood version with James Bond in it. As I type this, it actually feels pretty good to get that off my chest. Obviously, if I were an actual film fan, I’d have watched both versions with no preconceptions about either, but I think I’ve made it perfectly clear I’m not, so I followed my rule of presuming the original lower-budget film with subtitles would be the better one. I was furious they’d dare make a remake of it, and it was only there to patronise people who didn’t like subtitles. Jesus, I’m really not endearing myself to anyone, am I?
I really enjoyed reading the Millennium trilogy. I came to the party pretty late, though, so after I’d read the books, I watched both films one after the other. And I genuinely thought that the Hollywood remake was not only more enjoyable as a film, but also more faithful to the original story. I didn’t even mind that most of the characters couldn’t decide on an accent. I thought there were a lot of pitfalls the Hollywood version could fall into. I remember thinking that the character of Lisbeth Salander would be cast as a pneumatic blonde Hollywood beauty, and that Erika Berger would be about 25. This isn’t even an indictment of Hollywood really; just further proof of what an objectionable man I am.
I felt that the more recent version was also much better at the difficult challenge of adapting the more harrowing scenes from the book for a visual format. I felt that the scenes between Lisbeth Salander and Nils Bjürman bordered on the unnecessary and gratuitous in the Swedish version, and were handled a lot more sensitively in the adaptation. Obviously, those scenes shouldn’t be easy to watch, they were often hard to read, but I thought that it was a difficult task that was executed more capably in the Daniel Craig version.
Overall I found the Hollywood adaptation to be a more enjoyable watch. I even felt that it was shot and lit better than the Swedish version, though that probably comes down to budget, and the fact that as an audience, we’re used to films that look a certain way and associate that with quality. The plot is easier to follow, and more faithful to the books, and it generally just worked more in my opinion. I hope they make the entire trilogy over the next few years, which is looking reasonably likely at the moment.
The only thing left to work out is who I am these days. I don’t even know if someone tells me they like Sin City, I’ll even snort with derision and tell them to watch Double Indemnity any more…