Who’s the Real Lisbeth Salander?

by Olivia Saperstein


So I finally gave in after a few weeks of protest and went to see the Hollywood remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Though I tried to keep an open mind while watching, I found it almost impossible not to constantly compare it to the original Swedish version directed by Niels Arden Olev.

The fact that Hollywood (specifically director David Fincher) had the gall to remake the film in the first place is infuriating. The Oplev version came out not even three years ago, in 2009. We all know that the U.S. has the most power over film distribution in the world, and therefore can buy out absolutely any film and remake it. So once wind came of Oplev’s version and it’s action-blockbuster potential, why not bank on it? 

What’s pathetic about this remake is that not only was the Oplev version so recent and pretty popular, but Fincher’s version wasn’t any better, despite its high-tech appeal. If anything. the studio pompously hired fancy cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, got Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on music, and cast a virtual supermodel (Rooney Mara), which is the film world’s equivalent of a slap in the face. I can just picture Fincher watching Oplev’s version and squealing, “I can make that!”

Before we jump to my major source of anger (the butchered role of Lisbeth Salander), I have to ask: what was with the overacting from Christopher Plummer? All of his lines were read like…lines! 

Now, the Swedish Dragon Tattoo wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, but the role of Lisbeth Salander played by Noomi Rapace was the kicker. Never had I seen such a badass, substantive, and sexy character that totally defied the mainstream. There was a hardness and edge to her that I had never seen. And the way she took control of her sexuality was forceful and untraditional without being foreign. Her character was guarded, but multidimensional. For instance, when she lays with a lover (a scene that was cut in the U.S. version), we see a tender side of her; one of the only times she really seems comfortable. The beauty part of the film was that while everyone thought she was crazy, we understood something about her that others didn’t. And that yes, while the audience still gained voyeuristic pleasure in all of the film’s sexuality, she at least took some control over it.

This wasn’t really the case at all with Rooney Mara’s version of Lisbeth. First of all, while Rapace completely owned the character, Mara appeared a sheep in wolves’ clothing. The whole time her beauty was so eminently clear, it appeared as if she was just in costume. Secondly, her character seemed completely alien. She was removed from society, but lacked a certain hardness. Despite her character’s intelligence, her portrayal was almost childlike. The scene where she takes revenge on her counselor was pretty raw, but in other scenes she was frail in comparison. I’m sure these were all conscious choices, but they were less effective.

Compare these two clips when Lisbeth meets Mikael and see for yourself:

Noomi’s version

Rooney’s version

image credit: www.susannahprewitt.buzznet.com 


You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.