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Legacy Watch: Dragon Tattoo vs. Dragon Tattoo, John Cazale's Five Perfect Career Choices

by Sophia Savage
November 10, 2010 5:20 AM
9 Comments
  • |
Thompson on Hollywood


- Sweden's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev protests against David Fincher's remake and another actress playing the Lisbeth Salander role--"highly unfair because Noomi [Rapace] has captured this part and it should always be all her," he told Random House's Word & Film site. He goes on to compare the below-par American remake of Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita to Fincher's remake (Heat Vision attacks this argument). But Besson wrote and directed the original La Femme Nikita - it was his. Oplev was directing a screenplay adaptation of Stieg Larsson's book. If Columbia and Fincher have rights to the same story, it's fair game. Not to mention the countless Americans who have the original book on their nightstands, many of whom are yet to see the Swedish trilogy on screen. They're waiting for most worthwhile and accessible version, and that could well be Fincher's. Here's The Playlist's take on the Oplev's comments: the original Dragon Tattoo film was fairly shite anyway.

- Oscilloscope releases the John Cazale documentary I Knew It Was You today on DVD. Cazale's holds a singular distinction. His five films--that's all!--were each nominated for Best Picture Oscars (The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter). Speakeasy interviews the films producer, Brett Ratner, about Cazale and the documentary, which includes Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Francis Ford Coppola. "I’d never seen an actor bring so much specificity to his character," says Ratner. "He became his characters. I believe Fredo is Fredo. He was a fearless actor. He was okay with showing vulnerability, weakness. If you ask an actor, okay, in The Godfather, you can be Sonny, the toughest one in the family, or the slow brother who was looked over — nobody wants to play that role. Cazale made a lot of bold choices."

Thompson on Hollywood

9 Comments

  • Derek | December 15, 2010 9:14 AMReply

    I cannot disagree more with the assessment that the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was "fairly shite", and rather believe that the remake will most likely be just that. I think they have every right to remake it for the English-speaking world and since Noomi passed on the offer to reprise her role from the original in the remake, it's perfectly fine to find another actress instead. That being said, no other actress will be able to capture that character nearly as well as Noomi did, least of all Rooney Mara, and the remake will suffer as a result.

  • Dr. Evil | November 14, 2010 5:41 AMReply

    I do not want to start a polemic here because I know I am not in the possession of absolute knowledge, but I must bring some more clarification on my previous posting. My complaint was that for some reason Hollywood feels the urge to remake or reuse some material that was exploited to various degrees of success some other place on Earth. This is lack of imagination at very best and I mentioned that definitely there is a megaton of unexplored literature that can be transposed cinematically. Personally, I do not believe that the "Girl" books can be brought to screen in a satisfactory form through an American take. It is suspicious to me that the studios waited to see the level of success of the Swedish version and then decided to bank on the success by producing another take in English for a world wide exposure. Moreover, I think Rapace did the sane thing by refusing to revisit the same character twice, even though, it seems the screenplay is going to suffer some modifications and it would have undoubtedly been, in my opinion, a form of artistic suicide.
    Now going back to the re-visitation of the "Girl", I think it is important who "explores" the source material first no matter where on the planet. To me this second attempt on the "Girl" looks exceptionally familiar(La Famme Nikita, The Ring, Let me in). I mean why not release the original in theaters for the people to enjoy. Well, it seems that the American society has a cultural blockage because en masse consumption of foreign cinema is not an option. There is a refusal from the movie goers to adapt to foreign material. Once again we do not speak here by limited fraction of the population that rents DVDs or goes to art theaters in order to see the material. So here enters the almighty Hollywood which "chews" and spits something polished and adapted for the recalcitrant masses. It looks like there is tacit license given to Hollywood to produce a "translation". It is known that there is a inevitable loss in the process of translation. And now let's look at the roots of this mishap: Misunderstanding and censorship appear as the most obvious ones. The cultural misunderstanding is not a new animal under the sun. Cultural translation is impossible, this is why you have to know the language to enjoy the jokes and references. You really have to be familiar with a certain culture and avoid being fed over and over again with cliches. This means people have to make an effort to explore other cultures. Usually, in the American remakes or retakes of foreign material censorship takes the form of age re-targeting of the material. I mean I understand profit but why dilute some mature material to feed it to teenagers. Make more adults come and see the movie how it was initially intended. Not to speak about the disgusting Puritanism of which Hollywood suffers profusely.
    I would like to say more but it is the time to end this piece. If you thought that the originals were miserable this does not mean that take 2 is going to be better. "Americanization" of the source material is not the way and foresee that the "Girl" is going to be a disappointment. I just wish American cinema will regain some dignity by adhering to loftier aesthetics and grow a spine and a pair of balls in the process.

  • DL | November 12, 2010 8:53 AMReply

    @DavidC: You've made my day with the image of Kitano directing a JP version of the film! Plus, he should totally pull double-duty as Bjurman (Byurruman-san?)! ;)

    @Dr. Evil: You're missing the point entirely. This is not a remake, which would indicate that the English screenplay is being adapted from the Swedish screenplay; it is a re-adaptation of the original novel. I, for one, find this to be a huge relief, as I thought the Swedish film was terrible, and a poor representation of the novel - it was filled with unnecessary changes, inaccuracies, and worst of all, featured mounds of unneeded dialogue for Lisbeth which was altogether antithetical to her character, and could have easily been replaced by close shots of Rapace, who could deliver all we needed to know in her nuanced expressions. And for the record, I watch many foreign films and have no issue following subtitles.

    Regarding Oplev, the guy is talking out of his behind. For one, he and the screenwriters of the Swedish TGWTDT were replaced by the studio for "Fire" and "Hornet's Nest", respectively, because they did such a god-awful job on the first movie.

    Furthermore, Rapace explicitly stated that she does not want to play Lisbeth again in the same material. Considering this, it makes absolutely no sense for the studio NOT to promote their own actress. I mean, seriously, what does Oplev want them to do? Have Sony's previews say, "featuring Rooney Mara in a role turned down by Noomi Rapace"?

  • XiMan | November 12, 2010 2:46 AMReply

    The original GWTDT was shite indeed. Rubbish!

  • F | November 11, 2010 6:52 AMReply

    @Dr. Evil
    The accent thing is Hollywood routine. Not shocking at all.

    Sometimes remakes are inferior to the originals, though not all the time. For instance, The Maltese Falcon, His Girl Friday, The Fly, etc.

    If movies are paintings, then this is not at all like reproducing Picasso. It's most like re-imagining the Annunciation, which many great artists did.

  • Dr. Evil | November 10, 2010 10:45 AMReply

    I think that this silly article tries to induce the idea that "it's ok to take some international hit and chew it, then put it in a campy form and deliver it to the "poor" American audiences that suffer of ADD and cannot concentrate on the close captioning and the epic line at the same time". It is statistically proven that remakes of any kind tend to be below the original and hence there is an uphill battle from the beginning in this type of cinematic endeavor. Now back to the American version of "The Girl". There was a rumor that the director wanted the actors to deliver the lines with a Swedish accent, which really made me laugh to tears. I mean how sillier than this could a director be!?
    I strongly believe that the Americans should watch foreign movies in their original representations and not in "chewed" version, so it's easier to understand the message of the movies. Also would expose them to foreign languages and, maybe, make them want to learn them. It is of sad memory that the great Scorsese got his first directorial Oscar for the Departed, which is nothing else than a well executed reproduction of a superior original(Infernal Affairs). Now, if the movies were paintings, nobody would want a reproduction of Picasso regardless of how well executed it is. In the same vein, I recall a superb essay by Umberto Ecco which was debating on the virtues of a "copy". And the biggest value of a copy is that it reproduces an original which is irremediably lost. Or in the case of "The girl" nothing is lost, the original has just been launched. This situation just leads us to the status quo in Hollywood which plays the safe card of sequels, prequels and more recently the comic book. I find it outrageous that the studios don't offer their screenwriters a pass card to the local library. I mean, it's been centuries, even millennia, since humans started to put their stories in writing and it's a shame people just love to revisit some shallow crap because people swallowed it once.
    In the end I have to say only one thing to Hollywood:"Open your eyes, watch and learn, you big stupid monster!".

  • DavidC | November 10, 2010 9:06 AMReply

    Let many Salanders b;loom. How about Japan? Beat Takeshi would be on the right wavelength.

  • Brian | November 10, 2010 8:29 AMReply

    Just as the Hong Kong remake, BLACK CAT, was an improvement on the original (LA FEMME NIKITA), I'm waiting for a Hong Kong remake to improve on DRAGON TATTOO.

  • DavidC | November 10, 2010 7:45 AMReply

    Noomi as Salander is magnifcent: a luminous performer in a great role. But Salander is an iconic genre character who will be around for a long time and she will be portayed by many actresses. How many incarnations of Sherlock Holmes have there been over the years, without eclipsing the original?

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