Is Dragon Tattoo remake pointless?
There are many examples of Hollywood remaking European films, and they are not very encouraging. The Vanishing, Funny Games and the Ladykillers all made the transatlantic trek, with their original brilliance largely discarded. Recently Let Me In did prove it was possible to produce and fresh and worthwhile remake, but these have always been in the minority.
My initial feelings about the remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo have somewhat been soften by the introduction of David Fincher to the project. The book is rich with ideas about sexual violence, capitalism, the press, hacking and scandals in general. With Anonymous, Wikileaks, the Murdoch empire, Strauss-Kahn and the banking scandal still major news stories, this film could potentially be hugely relevant. It also has the chance to change the boundaries of sex and sexuality within mainstream films, letting them catch up with the independent world. Fincher is an assured Auteur and has the potential to turn the project into a work of art.
Also lets not forget that, as entertaining as they were, the original adaptions of the last two books felt less inspired than the first. They were let down by too conventional a direction style, which left them feeling flat and a little unconvincing. Fincher, if he chooses to continue the project, could produce a more satisfying version of these more difficult to adapt books. Therefore there is the chance to produce a more rounded trilogy.
The difference between this film and the remake of Let Me In is that its whole success rests almost exclusively on a single character. Lisbeth Salander is one of greatest characters in detective fiction and ranks up there with Marlowe, Holmes and anyone else you care to mention. She is also completely unique. The original portrayal, by Noomi Rapace, is so perfect that it is difficult to see where Rooney Mara can take it. If she copies Rapace completely the film will become pointless, and if she takes it too far in another direction it could alienate fans of the books.
Another, rather odd choice (setting this apart from Let Me In) is the decision to keep the Swedish setting. The idea of Americans talking in English, pretending to be Swedes sounds ludicrous. They have the potential to come across as sounding more like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets than locals. It is hard enough to successfully portray such popular characters, without having to do it in a comedy accent. One would hope Fincher has a reason behind this, probably related to stylish shots of beautiful Swedish vistas.
As difficult and potentially disastrous as this remake will be, I am still extremely excited about it. Mara looks fabulous in recent press photos, and both her and Fincher talk the talk. With so many potential avenues to explore, this could become the definitive film version of the book.