Tuesday, August 31, 2010


When does a review step over the line between constructive criticism, and become a vitriolic attack?

A condensed version of this review was published in the Saturday edition of the Telegraph.

Friday's version had the simple headline announcing a review, and a sub title 'The Swedish TV adaptation botches the job of compressing the Stieg Larsson book'.

By the Saturday edition the headline had metamorphosed into:
'Larsson sequel that's pure tat'.
For those not familiar with informal English language, 'tat' is defined as tasteless and shoddy usually referring to clothes and jewelry.
The criticisms made of the film were that the book's Caribbean prologue had been omitted, 'Noomi Rapace's bisexual avenging hacker' has less to do than in the first film, and 'the film flunks on all levels of sustained tension, plausible back story or moral depth, but it's luridly violent denouement with shades of bad Thomas Harris leaves the grimmest taste in the mouth'.

Firstly this was a long book, something had to go, and most people who read the book wondered where that prologue fitted in to the whole saga.
The book had two separate plot lines one with Blomqvist's investigations, and the other with Lisbeth Salander on the run from a triple murder charge. Obviously Noomi Rapace could not be in every scene, although her performance warranted that.

In 2001 I watched the film Hannibal [based on the Thomas Harris novel] on cable television, because of the beautiful locations at Asheville, North Carolina and Florence, Italy, both of which we had visited earlier in the year.
In that film there is one character who had been deliberately disfigured and left paralysed by Hanibal Lecter , and who was eaten alive by wild boars. Later in the film Hannibal [Anthony Hopkins] eats brain from a still living Ray Liotta's head after cutting off the top of his skull.

The violence in The Girl Who Played with Fire is certainly nowhere near at that level.
The bad guys in the Larsson trilogy, and this film, are neo-Nazi biker gangs, Eastern European people traffickers, serial abusers of women and rogue Swedish intelligence agents.
Fifty hours community service, six months probation, a discussion of women's rights, or a good telling off, is just not going to work with these people.
Lisbeth Salander's violence towards the bad guys is almost certainly justified in her circumstances, and provides a strong moral depth to this movie.
Are some people evil? Do they need to be stopped?
Or do we go on proclaiming abuse of women, and people trafficking is terrible but.........

The feedback I have had from as far afield as the English Midlands, Denmark and New Mexico is that this was an enthralling film, and an extremely good effort at adapting a complex story for the screen.
I can't wait for The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest.


Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

I guess they are just trying to sell papers by saying anything vaguely controversial (in their eyes) without any bearing on facts. In true Glenda Slag style, they will probably run a piece at the weekend with a banner headline "Lisbeth S: dontcha just love her and the brilliant movie?"

The Times gave the movie a very good review, btw, but as they now charge for online content I can't provide a link (you can't even get to link now, without being an online subscriber). So I only have the print edition to go on.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I read the Sunday Times review which made the Telegraph seem very stupid as they gave it 4 stars.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Well, the truth is that the bad guys are who you say they are. And, they are also murderers who killed quite a few people in Book II.

And, so much violence is perpetrated against Lizbeth Salander, that she's brutally beaten and left for dead.

I haven't seen this film yet, but the book, which it's based on, does have a violent ending. That's the way it's written.

I admit that I did have to fast forward during some violent scenes in TDWTDT, which weren't so bad in the book as they were on screen, where there is no way to escape.

And I'll probably have to do it again.

But if I liked the books, which I did and I want to see the movies, which I do, then I'll have to deal with the violence, which appears to be true to Larsson's writing.

4:59 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I agree Kathy, but the violence is far less than a lot of other films. Nothing that is not in the books is included on screen as far as I can remember.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I don't normally see films nor read books full of graphic violence, but I made an exception in the Millennium trilogy because I liked the books, the story, the characters--and got pulled in from page 1 of Book 1 and I was hooked.

A lot of women, myself included, really don't want to read or see such brutality against women which is so prominent in crime fiction (nor against men, children or animals either). Some friends (and I) skipped parts of the books which got to be too graphic (a page here, a page there).

But we all liked the books, except for one friend who quit reading the books, but liked the movies, although commenting about the violence. And one friend who liked the books, doesn't want to see the movies as she said the violence will be worse on screen (not that it was added in, but she knows what was in the books and it's more graphic on screen--and it is. I had to fast forward through parts or walk away.)

It's a really difficult and personal thing, a matter of taste, and choice.

I really liked the 3 books but don't blame anyone who can't take the violence in the books or the movies. However, I do not agree on reviewers panning the movies or the books. For one reason, lots of movies contain violence--and books, too. Few are criticized for that.

So my viewpoint is: Publish the books, make the movies--see them or not. But let the readers and viewers decide for themselves--and do not pan them. That is absurd.

4:06 PM  

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