Writing in The Guardian this morning, film critic Phil Hoad says Hollywood should take note of the new David Fincher-directed remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
With the film industry set to finish the year about $1 billion off in box office receipts from 2010, mostly on the back of uninspired remakes or endless superhero fare, Hoad says Fincher’s movie succeeds because it offers a new take on an old film, while maintaining the original, intelligent spirit of the original.
Here’s the nut graf:
“Fincher, with a $100m budget, is at this table too. But his Dragon Tattoo, spritzed with its light fragrance of Scandinavian malaise, is clearly a step towards a new kind of remake for the era of international box office. Audiences are better travelled than they used to be and more ready to sample culture in a foreign-language. Where remakes come into being, maintaining the essence of the original work is becoming a plus point – like with the British adaptation of Wallander. The US Dragon Tattoo also follows in the footsteps of Columbia’s remake of J-horror The Grudge – which also kept its predecessors’ Japan setting. It was more elegant, though, in explaining the transition to English-speaking characters: they actually are English speakers (Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character is a care nurse who takes a job in Tokyo at the hexed house of the three previous Japanese movies).
So foreignness can be a selling point for a remake now. Fincher safeguards the Swedishness with what is essentially a form of posh dubbing – substituting actors instead of a new audio track. But his method surely has its limits. It’s hard to imagine it working outside of a western setting: anything set in Asia or Africa would seem ridiculous, or even a bit colonial. And it hides what is, in many ways, still a traditional remake. The black-lacquered title sequence announces the new ownership, and the ascension of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy to global media-brand status. Of course this could only be permitted to happen in Hollywood hands: this is Scandinavian crime fiction as 007 extravaganza. It’s gone respectable, in other words, and on one crucial point it pushes even further in making sure that the star of the show is palatable to her new public: Lisbeth Salander actually asks permission from Mikael Blomkvist to kill with the serial killer, and she doesn’t even get to deal the mortal blow. She is no longer Noomi Rapace’s feminist avenging angel (though Fincher’s version is truer to the book on this point than its Swedish adaptation).”
Read the full story here.