In order to determine whether a movie is successful or not, several factors composing the film should be evaluated, for example: the plot, the play of the actors, the shooting, the editing, the dynamics of the movie, the soundtracks etc. If the film was based on real events or on the book, the equivalence between the movie and the original material must be taken into consideration too. The essay presents an evaluation of David Fincher’s movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The choice of this film for evaluation was based on the criteria a movie can be evaluated.
The plot of the movie is the first criterion which makes it either thrilling or boring. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on a famous book of the same name written by Swedish journalist and writer Stieg Larson. Henrik Vagner hires a journalist who is supposed to reveal a mystery of his niece’s disappearance. The plot is tangled and confused due to the Vagner’s family ties of relationship. The family is large and it is hard to memorize who is who at first. Though, Steven Zaillian, the author of the screen version of the movie, made it easy to distinguish the characters avoiding the confusion in the viewer’s mind. There are discrepancies between the book and the movie, but this fact does not make the second one worse than the first one. The movie’s sequences are carefully developed, their composition is thoroughly chosen.
The play of the actors is a significant criterion which defines the quality of the film. The choice of actors must be praised. The actors played their roles up to the mark. Daniel Craig shooting as Michael Bloomkvist showed a journalist’s investigation of a young girl’s mysterious disappearance. There is no doubt that Rooney Mara starring as Lisbeth Salander surrendered herself to the film. The actress even cut her hair and pierced her body to get the feel of her role which is very charismatic and somewhat crazy. Lisbeth is a rebel. She is estranged from everyone. Therefore she forms an impossible tandem with Michael, who is steady and calm, and helps him with the investigation. Abominable Lisbeth’s guardian, who horribly rapes her and repulsive Martin Vagner, who was raping his sister Harriet like his father did, look so disgusting that a viewer may start perceiving other roles of these actors differently. A note of craziness takes place throughout the whole movie, starting from the actors and ending with the soundtracks.
The introductory caption of the film cannot be left out of the viewer’s attention. It was created with the help of a fast montage style editing. Different things are shot from different sides and angles. The caption itself is shady and suspicious. The darker it gets, the louder becomes the music. The shots on the screen change so rapidly that it is impossible to understand what is happening. It is impossible to rewind the caption due to its crazyness. The audience is left with an expectation of something unpredictable.
Jeff Cronenweth, the operator, shot the scenes from beneficial angles. Especially advantageous angles of shooting were chosen for showing the cruel relationships between Lisbeth and her guardian and later – for Lisbeth’s revenging herself up on him. When one stands over another alternatively, the shooting is made from the above and from the back. In such a way, a viewer can see who is the chief of the situation and who is helpless from the character’s position. These scenes are the parts of the film which contain the biggest ammount of editing, according to the movie’s editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter. The raping scenes were ment to be spotlighted. They were not supposed to be about the abominable acts, but about their impact on the characters (Restuccio). This decision of the editors was right, it benefits to the tragedy of the situation. There are more than 1,000 visual shots in the movie. Among them shot stabilizations and visual enhancements can be found (Restuccio).
The film is characterised by the big ammount of flashbacks, especially during Michael’s investigation. Their professional insertion does not confuse the viewer, therefore it is clear that those are not the reality, but memmories.
David Fincher decided that the choice of light in the film should be uncommon. In such a way the movie opens to the viewer from the new perspective. Silhoettes, darkness and shadows fullfil the film. Dark, gloomy and shady colours are used in the picture. They create the oppressive mood of the movie reflecting the tragic story. Indirect and soft lighting intensifies a depressive impression of a viewer. Colors and lighting were corrected through the instrumentality of computers and various modern filming technologies. In such a way, the movie is a constant dramatic image qualifying the original plot.
The film speaks through its soundtracks too. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross created suitable soundtracks for the film. Screaming and howling woman’s voice audible from the remade Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” underlines the general mood of the movie. The violence in the music corresponds to the violence in the story, as when Martin Vagner, a prime suspect in Harriet’s probable death, hanged Michael in his basement with an intention to kill him. The film is tensed and dynamic due to its scenes, but its soundtracks intensify these effects. An unexpected turn takes place in the end of the movie, when Michael finds Harriet safe and sound.
The general impression from the movie is fascinating. Dreary and dark colors make an accent on the mournful themes in the plot. The actors are charismatic and skilled. The effective editing and the choice of angles for shooting better illustrate main points in the film. The music fits the tension and dynamism in the movie. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is definitely a successful movie worth watching.
- Restuccio, Daniel. Cover Story: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Post-Magazine. 1 Nov. 2011. Web. 3. May 2013. < http://www.postmagazine.com/Publications/Post-Magazine/2011/November-1-2011/Cover-Story-The-Girl-With-the-Dragon-Tattoo.aspx#.UWhyFCPevKM >.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara. Columbia Pictures, 2011. Film.