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The Ending Of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' Changed For David Fincher's Film

by Kevin Jagernauth
January 16, 2011 10:02 AM
24 Comments
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David Fincher Also Says Critics Are Wrong About 'The Social Network'; It's A "Movie" Not A "Film," Not Meant To Define A Generation



You’ve probably seen the first official photos from W magazine of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander that went around the internet earlier this week. Well, attached to those photos is an eight page article about the career of director David Fincher, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at his upcoming adaptation of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. Even if you think you’ve read everything you can stomach about “The Social Network” at this point, Fincher still offers up a few choice, provocative quotes about his Oscar contending film, saying that basically, critics who have fawned over his movie have gotten it wrong and that even in his own estimation it's just a "movie" not a "film."

"....on 'Social Network,' I didn’t really agree with the critics’ praise. It interested me that 'Social Network' was about friendships that dissolved through this thing that promised friendships, but I didn’t think we were ripping the lid off anything. The movie is true to a time and a kind of person, but I was never trying to turn a mirror on a generation,” Fincher said about the film. Assessing where the picture stands within his own canon of work, Fincher feels that "Zodiac" was thematically richer.

“It’s a little glib to be a film,” Fincher says. “Let’s hope we strove to get at something interesting, but 'Social Network' is not earth-shattering. 'Zodiac' was about murders that changed America. After the Zodiac killings in California, the Summer of Love was over. Suddenly, there was no more weed or pussy. People were hog-tied and died. No one died during the creation of Facebook. By my estimation, the person who made out the worst in the creation of Facebook still made more than 30 million dollars. And no one was killed.” Certainly, Fincher is being slightly facetious or humble in his own unique way, but it does back up what some of us around the site have been saying about the film. It's grand entertainment, not necessarily great cinema.

The article also brings a particularly interesting bit of news for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” -- the film’s ending has been changed from the book. It states, “the script, which captures the novel’s bleak tone (its original Swedish title was 'Men Who Hate Women'), was written by Academy Award winner Steven Zaillian, who wrote 'Schindler’s List,' and it departs rather dramatically from the book. Blomkvist is less promiscuous, Salander is more aggressive, and, most notably, the ending—the resolution of the drama—has been completely changed. This may be sacrilege to some, but Zaillian has improved on Larsson—the script’s ending is more interesting.”

That’s certainly good news for anyone who wasn’t a fan of the original film (or book), though there’s no telling whether this might upset the 50 million people who have read, re-read and suggested the book to friends. It's a fairly big gamble to mess with the ending of a book that has become a worldwide sensation, but before Stieg Larsson fans cry foul it shouldn't really need to be said that film is a different medium and what plays out well in a book, doesn't necessarily work on screen. We think Zaillian and Fincher know enough to still do justice to the characters and story, while making it come together for what promises to be the first hard-R, adult drama blockbuster to be released in a while. Guess we'll see how it all plays out.

If you didn’t know already, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” will hit theaters December 21, 2011. -Cory Everett

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24 Comments

  • RR | December 21, 2011 10:38 PMReply

    The new Fincher/Zaillian ending for the film is incredibly disappointing. It lacks the magic and miracle of the ending in the book.
    Its bad enough that the dialogue is flat in the movie ending, but they even managed to dull the setting from a gloriously sunny warm Australia in the book, to a dreary rainy London in the movie.

    I normally don't comment but the film ending was so flat that I just had to voice an opinion.

  • Rajesh | January 5, 2012 6:49 AM

    They tried to follow the book reasonably well till the very end (with reasonable allowances for the medium and charecterization) but the ending just ruined it for me. It was like.. 'really?! you cant be serious' kind if a feeling. Also they missed the opportunity to add more drama and 'pace' that the medium of cinema can add. There were no inflections. It was like driving a ferrari at 50 mph for 2 hours! The excitement I got from reading the book was a million times greater. Felt the book read over a few days had more pace than the 2 hr movie.

  • Niesha | October 4, 2011 5:00 AMReply

    What is the ending of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I have a project didnt read the whole book and so im wondering what happin.

  • Mr. E | January 20, 2011 9:01 AMReply

    Fincher completely altered the ending of another phenomenal book and it worked brilliantly. Fight Club is still my favorite film of his, one which did "rip the lid off"...at least in my opinion. It bears I have faith that Fincher's version of GWTDT will blow the Swedish version out of the water. The first was ok, but Fire was a joke.

  • Pope | January 18, 2011 7:16 AMReply

    Scott, could u provide a link to that piece u wrote last month. I'm interested to read ANYTHING that doesnt praise the film as I'm not a huge fan myself.

  • Pope | January 18, 2011 7:15 AMReply

    Scott, could u provide a link to that piece u wrote last month? I'm not too fond of the film myself and it seems like I rarely read something nowadays about the film that doesn't praise it. Interested in your thoughts.

  • TheoC | January 17, 2011 11:10 AMReply

    I love Fincher's take on the social network, I think Zodiac is brilliant and was mostly over looked.

    Social network is still the best movie I've seen in a cinema in 2010 but will probably be remembered for its cracking script in a few years rather than an amazing film.

  • TheoC | January 17, 2011 11:04 AMReply

    The swedish movie is terrible Helen, and stop asking Americans to watch movies out of their own language, it's a huge statement and the playlist exists because Americans watch sub titled movies. (I'm not American BTW). People assume a movie with sub titles= good when that mindset actually = pretension. Dragon Tattoo was the best of the swedish trilogy in my opinion, but they all looked terrible, they had the production values of a digital soap opera and felt very very rushed. Yawn, I've said this a lot.

    I hated Noomi's Salander, all scowl and petulance, zero depth. I love the books but the first one is too stand alone and the ending is a little too fairy tale, tidy and silly. So I'm open to Zaillian changing it around. You know maybe hide who the killer is a little better and at least make you question a few more things.

    Bad books make good movies and the Millennium Trilogy for me anyway, remains undefined. The swedish trilogy are bad books made into bad movies.

  • The AMF | January 12, 2013 8:31 PM

    I agree that the Swedish version had the production value of a 'digital soap opera'. But quite frankly that made it all the more down to earth and un-glamorous as life usually is.

  • Helen from Norway | January 17, 2011 9:56 AMReply

    If only americans and others could learn to watch movies not in their own language... It's not that hard to read subtitles.. really it is not.. *sigh*..

    The swedish movie is great, Lisbeth Salander is great.. the people are people, not just some glam version of people.. and changing the ending? Well, if it means something more spectacular that does not mean that Lisbeth dies, fine.. The changes to the rest of the movie will prob. be too big anyway.

  • Kevin from Canada | February 3, 2012 10:55 PM

    I watch movies so I don't have to READ BOOKS....therefore some subtitles I can handle....At one time I was going to watch TGWTDT subtitled....then I realized there's 3 subtitled movies? No thanks...I'm a person who either needs to be Visually or Audio stimulated....I usually fall asleep if I try to read a book.....

  • Daiana | January 17, 2011 9:14 AMReply

    "still do justice to the characters and story"? They have alreally destroy Lisbeth with that actress and so call future "Hot Topic-esque fashion icon" look. You just can't destroy more the story.

  • Christopher Bell | January 17, 2011 7:54 AMReply

    If he wins the Oscar for Social Network, then what will he say?

  • Alex | January 17, 2011 7:49 AMReply

    Agree with Helen from Norway -- the Swedish films were wonderful, and as much as I like Craig as an actor it sounds like they are cutting out essential parts of the novels.

    This American-ized version is looking to be about as effective as the BBC version of Wallander :-( (cue the British accents trying to pronounce Lundagatan). :-(

    Wallander mini-series was b*stardized as they made Wallander a mannequin that ran around solving crimes: they removed his issues with Alcohol, pulled out the fact that he's divorced and miserable, and alienated from his daughter. The result is a character rather than a person that is impossible to connect or identify with.

    This is EXACTLY what will happen with the American "Dragon Tattoo".

  • MDL | January 17, 2011 7:45 AMReply

    Well we have reached that time of year when some critics decide to tell us that the movie winning the most awards [with critics, fans and awards shows] is not really that good. This happens every year and frankly it is tiresome. Anyone who doesn't recognize that The Social Network is at the very least a good entertaining movie probably should not be reviewing movies. And note that any criticism at this point is criticism of the critical establishment and the marketing hype but not of the actual movie itself.

    I'm guessing Fincher is tired of his own press. But I doubt he has the same view of his own movie as the critics who decide now to dump on it.

  • John W Greise | January 17, 2011 5:47 AMReply

    Why the hell would he want to change the ending? I'm already thinking that the American version may be a bloody abortion of the original Swedish movie...and without Noomi Rapace it probably won't be anywhere near as effective. But the jury's out until the end of this year. I'll wait to make my judgment.

  • Collin Buchanan | January 17, 2011 5:13 AMReply

    A "movie", but not a "film".

    Guys, what does that even mean?

  • Paul Chicago | January 17, 2011 4:45 AMReply

    "Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It".
    How can anyone in Hollywood forget Demi Moore's 'The Scarlet Letter' debacle when they messed with the ending to a classic novel! You're basically giving the book's loyal fan base a middle finger when you change something as crucial as the ending just because you think you know better. It's simply hubris. Hollywood Hubris.

  • Patricia Hynes | January 17, 2011 2:38 AMReply

    I agree with Carlos.... NOOMI RAPACE is the only Lisbeth Salander......once you've seen the original movies you can't picture anyone else playing that part. And in the Swedish versions...the characters are older, not necessarily good looking...and I liked that!

  • Carlos Pedraza | January 17, 2011 2:09 AMReply

    Cory Everett : "what plays out well in a book, doesn’t necessarily work on screen" Perhaps you should have seen the swedish movies before writing that.
    And there's only one Lisbeth Salander on screen: NOOMI RAPACE!!!!!!

  • Guy Brindle | January 17, 2011 1:42 AMReply

    I have seen the 3 original movies and they got better and better each time, and darker. They followed the books really well, so they flowed nicely.

    To change the ending of the first film will be ok for Hollywood, but would in essence kill the flow if they intend to do more english versions of the film.

    Personally I would not go and see it, not because it is a hollywood version, but because it will lack the grit and suspense of the original. Cannot see Hollywood actors doing it in Swedish accents, and the film etc done in US english would kill it for me

  • Vic | January 17, 2011 1:20 AMReply

    Leave it to Hollywood to "think" that a great books and films needs to be remade "Hollywood Style". This is absolute crap! By changing the ending and charaters' nature to suit the likings of Hollywoods "award winning" script writters is, as usual, just part of the ego stroking problem of Hollywood. The original author (Larsson) who has regretably passed away prior to the books/films being made, would have probably been very proud of the "Original" movies as they are a "true" representation of his characters. The lame attempt to state that true fans of the original need to consider that this is a different medium is simply just a lame attempt to justify the changes. Hollywood needs to spend more time coming up with its own ideas and leave remakes where they truely belong (in the garbage).

  • fearlessweaver | January 16, 2011 11:06 AMReply

    I agree that The Social Network is more of a movie than a film. It is a great one, though. I think we could say the same for Black Swan, True Grit, King's Speech, Inception, Winter's Bone, Toy Story, etc., so I'm not sure what the point of the distinction is. Did anyone make "cinema" in 2011? And Fincher continues to grossly overestimate Zodiac. It was ambitious, yes, but not successful.

  • Scott Mendelson | January 16, 2011 10:26 AMReply

    I wrote a piece last month calling The Social Network one of the most overrated films of 2010, using much of the same language that Fincher uses above. I received hundreds of comments calling me all manner of names (stupid, naive, ignorant, etc). I wonder if they will call Fincher the same because he didn't realize the 'obvious brilliance' of his own movie.

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