Posted on Monday, January 17th, 2011 by Germain Lussier
Stieg Larsson‘s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is of the great cultural success stories in recent years. No matter where you go – on a train, plane, or just sitting in the park – that bright green and yellow book cover seems to be everywhere. The original movies were a smash hit overseas and by now we all know that Golden Globe-winning director David Fincher is hard at work on the American remake. Rooney Mara stars the titular character, Lisbeth Salander, who teams up with journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) to solve a long gestating disappearance.
As the first photos of Mara portraying the now iconic character were released, so too was some extremely controversial information about the film, mainly that Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian has crafted a new ending to the revered work. And though we ran that quote last week, fans of Larsson’s work have been very vocal with their disappointment so it’s time to defend Fincher and Zaillian. Read why we feel the original ending needs to be changed after the jump.
Once again. here’s how the W Magazine article by Lynn Hirschberg describes the American version of the film, which is scheduled for release December 21.
It departs rather dramatically from the book. Blomkvist is less promiscuous, Salander is more aggressive, and, most notably, the ending—the resolution of the drama—has been completely changed. This may be sacrilege to some, but Zaillian has improved on Larsson—the script’s ending is more interesting.
First of all, no one really seems to be focusing on the fact that the two main characters have apparently been changed in very fundamental ways. All anyone wants to talk about is the ending.
That said, what I love most about that quote is that Hirschberg flat out says this new ending is more interesting. States it as fact. And while millions of Larsson fans obviously would say changing the ending to a work they love is blasphemous, here’s the issue. Fans don’t know the new ending, only the original one. Hirschberg obviously knows both and is confident enough to call it more interesting. Which, if we’re being honest, kind of makes sense. It’s pretty easy to win an argument stating the ending to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is garbage and can be improved on.
Before I defend that point, let me be up front. I haven’t read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I’ve only seen the movie, so I’m solely basing this option on the original film. That said, when I saw the film, I was transfixed by it. I felt it portrayed a great mystery about the disappearance of a girl and the way it weaved in Salander’s story with Blomkvist’s kept my attention throughout. Awesome characters, writing, the works.
Here’s the point where I blow the ending of the book and original movie so, fair warning, spoilers follow.
But then, after such a well-thought out and interesting build-up, the culprit, of course, turns out to be one of the small cast of suspicious characters we’ve already met. There’s no great mystery or reveal, it was either A, B or C and it happened to be A. And once that person captures Blomkvist and ties him up, like a bad James Bond villain, he monologues about his whole story for no reason whatsoever. Then, at the last second, Salander miraculously shows up for the big save. Big surprise.
Really? He’s the bad guy? He’s going to conveniently divulge all his sinister thoughts? She comes down and saves him? Did Larsson just get lazy? I was so disappointed. For such a rich story to revert to hackneyed plot devices to wrap up its loose ends was incredibly frustrating. The only surprising reveal is that the girl was never dead but that really isn’t enough to save what’s already happened.
So, I say Bravo to Fincher and Zaillian for changing the ending in any way they can. I know fans will be upset, but they’re actually pretty lucky. Not only do they have the original books but a whole trilogy of movies to embrace. Imagine the uproar if those movies were as unfaithful to the source material as this remake might end up being? As for the countless people who haven’t read the books and will only see this new version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, they’re sure to experience an even more rewarding time at the cinema. That’s what the David Fincher touch is all about. It’s his movie and he can do what he wants.