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David Fincher Says The Original Swedish ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Is “Great” & Did What It Could Given The Limited Budget

David Fincher: The Original Swedish 'Dragon Tattoo' Is "Great" & Did What It Could With Budget

3 New TV Spots & A Handful Of New Images For The Feel Bad Movie Of Christmas

It was just over a year ago that David Fincher was about three months into production on Sony‘s big-budget adaptation of Stieg Larsson‘s best-selling “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” and at that time, the director of the Swedish language version Niels Arden Oplev, let it be known that he wasn’t a big fan of the idea. “Even in Hollywood there seems to be a kind of anger about the remake, like, ‘Why would they remake something when they can just go see the original?’ Everybody who loves film will go see the original one,” Oplev said. “It’s like, what do you want to see, the French version of ‘La Femme Nikita‘ or the American one?” Never one to hold his tongue, we expected a sizzling comeback from David Fincher but it appears he’s taking a conciliatory tone when asked about the movie that’s already out there and made Noomi Rapace a star.

In case you’re wondering, he did see Oplev’s movie and he told the USA Today simply, “It’s a great movie.” But he stressed it’s all about the source material when it comes to his version.  “But we had to start with the book. That’s the wellspring of everything.” But either way, he’s impressed with what Oplev accomplished.

“I read it and thought, ‘Holy God, how do you compress this into a movie?’ I thought the original did a great job, given its [$15 million] budget. When you have that much, it’s going to be limited in terms of the scope,” he said.

However, Fincher is plenty aware of the built-in animosity he faces from the diehard fans of the Swedish series. “I know we are playing into the European, and certainly the Swedish, predisposition that this is just a gigantic, monetary landgrab. You’re coopting a phenomenon,” he tells Fincher Fanatic. “Now, there is plenty of reason to believe that we can make it equally entertaining of a movie. But the resentment is already engendered, in a weird way. It’s bizarre. But then there are British television shows, like ‘The Office,’ that are being remade as American television shows. And we speak the same f—ing language.”

But if there are some differences, one of them is that Fincher has definitely been working with a larger budget, and with some pretty incredible support from the studio in a production that spanned nearly a year. In an extensive profile in Wired, they relate that when they caught up with Fincher to do the interview it was during the late summer of this year. Ever the perfectionist, Fincher was in the process of reshooting a murder scene, but they had faced a considerable obstacle. They first shot the scene in Sweden and in the time that passed, one of the members ABBA had become an owner of the location that they used and didn’t allow Fincher and his team return for a reshoot. So everything had to be recreated –docks, woods, mossy rocks, more — on a Los Angeles soundstage. Few studios would give that kind of elasticity, freedom (and money) to a director. But then again, there are few folks like Fincher.

As much as he might cringe, his name has become a brand and the trailers for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” put Fincher front and center. But as he tells Fincher Fanatic, it’s not by his choice. “None of the trailers that I ever cut had my f—ing name on them. As I never tire of telling the marketing department, ‘Remember, ‘Se7en‘ was from the director of ‘Se7en,’ too, but it didn’t say it on the poster.’ So I work hard to fight against whatever my brand is. I would like my brand to stand for ‘works really hard’, ‘tries to make it as good as he possibly can’. If the brand is, ‘it’s gonna be dark and grainy,’ I have no interest in that. It’s just too reductive. It’s just too stupid,” he says. But he can’t hide behind the fact that with ‘Dragon Tattoo’ — with rape, torture, violence, sex, religion all playing against each other — he finds himself in some familiar territory. But he’s wearing it — and the rating that comes with it — as a badge of honor.

“I couldn’t be happier. We didn’t want to whitewash it. We intend too earn our R. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about,” he recently told EW (print edition; via Comic Book Movie). And while many hope the saga of Lisbeth Salander will be continued in follow-up films for “The Girl Who Played With The Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest,” Fincher remains cagey.

“It is very expensive, so many have to see it. We’ll see what happens,” he recently said at a press conference in Sweden (via Moviezine). Vote with your dollars folks when the movie opens on December 21st. Three new TV spots and a handful of new images from the movie below.

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I saw the Swedish movies before reading the books. I loved the character of Lisbeth Salander, Noomi Rapace nailed it. I did feel the energy and tone of the film was flat throughout, but I did feel the actors played their roles realistically and honestly. When I read the books, loved!! the character of Lisbeth, so facinated by her. There was so much more in the books that wasn't in the film – maybe David Fincher will add some of these in – I'm just terrified he will turn Blomqvist and Lisbeth into a love story, I feel it's more of a friendship and that's why I liked the end of the swedish version. I'm looking forward to finchers version as I'm a huge fan of the books. I dont see Lisbeth as needy and weak and from the trailer and a couple of posters it feels to me it's going that way. But his version does look visually strong and sharp – but then again, bigger budget.


Usually I'm against remaking foreign films in English only because we Americans are too lazy to read subtitles. However, I think only the first film was any good; Fire and Hornet's Nest were cripplingly boring. It's a shame because Noomi Rapace was excellent. I have faith in Fincher to make a kick ass movie.


I've read all three of the books LOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! them. Though the original movies truly convey the spirit of the books i look forward to seeing fincher's gritty realistic take on the trilogy and come on who didn't picture daniel craig as mikael blomkvist?


Jesus Christ, those new TV spots are muscular as fuck. Excellent.


My brain just cannot comprehend the thought-process that goes into the anti-American version elitists when it's not even out yet… Hmm, actually, I was like that about a few things back in high school, so I understand high school students who pop off with thoughtless, resentful opinions like that, but who fuckin cares? It's like die hard sports fans who hate "their" team's rivals. Passion for films is what it's all about, but this is the wrong lane to be in… (BTW, the Swedish trilogy was mediocre – I agree that the limited budget must've handcuffed them so badly, but Oplev is driven by pure resentment in his statements, without a great original film to back them up)


The original was super and English talked liked the Lisbeth and her roll.US always think that they have to make a softer version of the original. Europe make the best movie without cutting scenes.


Danielle, how can you say "the original is best" when you haven't even seen Fincher's remake? This is precisely the kind of blinkered thinking we've come to expect from the anti-American, Noomi Rapace purists. The originals were great drama, but they were a TV mini-series. They had none of the structure or budget of a proper movie. At least watch the movie before panning it. And of course they shouldn't be talking Swedish. The books were translated into English. Should the original films not have been dubbed or subtitled? Pure elitist nonsense.


Fincher want to impress people in advance, that this film how it's gonna be different from the original piece but how it's that not bad. Anyway i just look forward to seeing this dark piece during the coming black Christmas, though haven't watched the Swedish piece though i have the dvd of it.


I think it's a shame, because the orginal movies are better. and they don't even talk swedish.. it was a fucking swedish writter. so they should have talked swedish. I think this remake can't be compared with the orginal one. because I have read the books, and for what the trailer looks like it doesn't even come close to the book. and why do americans always have to take something and call it theirs??? it's a shame that the family of stieg larsson alloud this remake. because the orginal is still the best, and I like the preformance of noomi rapace.. she is LISBETH SALANDER!!


The original films were amazing. And whether Fincher likes it or not, he's a brand and everyone compares his work now to his previous work. And while I do like what he does, Hollywood should never have touched this franchise. There's such a thing as a grace period for remakes. And less than two years is not it. Honestly, doing remakes seems like a lack of ideas and creativity.


the original films is fincher directing the remake…I mean CMON!
that swedish director has a very misdirected sense of self importance in his original work.


at the end of the third video, did lisbeth say: " put your hand back in my shirt?"
thats hilarious.


I think I'm the only one who hated the Swedish version of the book. I wouldn't even call it an adaptation.


The headline is a tiny bit misleading, don't you think? It makes it sound like he's implying "the bigger the budget the better the film." He's actually talking about it as an adaptation, about how the budget limited its adherence to the book, not about its quality as a film.

I'm not complaining. I just thought I'd throw that out there, in case people jump all over it.

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