Apr 12, 2010

How to Remake Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

"Already adapted into an award-winning Swedish language trilogy, the English-language version is being produced by Scott Rudin at Sony with Steve Zaillian ("Schindler's List," "American Gangster," the original draft of "Moneyball") currently writing the script. Shooting is set to begin in September or October, presumably once Fincher finishes press rounds for "The Social Network." — The Playlist
Some unsollicited advice for Zaillian (spoilers ahead!):—

1) Hurry things up. 2 and a half hours may be fine for Lawrence of Arabia, but for a bondage-and-computer hacking flick, it's an audience loser. I would suggest not taking one hour to get your crime fighters together, as the director of the Swedish version does. Twenty minutes tops.

2) Untangle your plot elements. In an attempt to make everything connect up in the book, the author quite literally linked up all his elements: the investigator of the disappeared girl was also, turns out, babysat by said girl. This is what is called falling in love with your material. Snap out of it.

3) Ease up on the flashbacks. The sins of the fathers, revisited a generation later, may be a nice theme on the page but on the big screen, its a snore — rather like watching characters in one movie decipher the plot of another, altogether more exciting movie that you never get to see. We're watching these characters, in this time frame: keep the present nicely fed with events. Using Google does not constitute an 'event.'

If you're going to have the killer turn out to be someone we met in the first five minutes, try and inject surprise into proceedings by careful arrangement of red herrings. Three identical Nazi brothers are both two Nazi brothers too many and not nearly enough. Suggest a full battalion. And don't take us through a family tree if we never get to meet them because they are dead. Introductions to dead people are a waste of everyone's time unless their hands are going to grab out ankles when we visit their graves.

5) Keep the girl. The best thing in the movie. A lesbian Miss Marple with nose rings, biker gear and a serious chain-smoking habit, the character of Lispeth Salamandar is the only real reason to make this movie. Lose her backstory and make sure you cast her right. Cary Mulligan: bad idea. Kristen Stewart: closer. Better still would be a comeback vehicle for Winona Ryder.


  1. Ha! Wow, I liked the movie a lot more than you, apparently... though the super-tense cracking-the-case-via-google scenes cracked me up, remembering our experience with Ghost Writer.

  2. There was plenty I liked about it. I liked the girl, the scenes with her Guardian, the wintry landscapes, the scenes with the killer. I just didn't like the story. Too bookish. And yeah too many shots of people hunched over computer screens or in libraries. On the page, that stuff comes alive: you just dive into the rabbit hole with them. On the big screen, you're just stuck staring at them staring at their research. But I liked the character of the girl a lot, particularly the way she slept with him so suddenly, almost bashfully, the way you might offer someone a lift home or something. Very touching.