The Reel Deal Presents: The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo

October 3, 2012 4 Comments

Who is Lisbeth Salander and why do we love her?  What does a person’s crib reveal about the darkest motivations and secrets?  How does anyone ever transcend unspeakable trauma?  Swedish version or American?

Lisbeth Salander and friends joined our team of film theorists, literature profs and psychotherapists to kick off The Reel Deal’s 2012-13 season on Sunday, September 30 at the Bloomfield Library.

Stieg Larson’s blockbuster trilogy has been adapted by three  Swedish films and David Fincher’s American version.  This program offered an opportunity to explore the facets of this complicated film.  Diane Geiger situated the film within the genre of Cyberpunk literature, and Lisbeth as a riveting embodiment of  the detached, stealthy, marginalized, lowlife antihero who always has a plan.  And she rides a bike (no, not a bicycle) with fearless grit.  What’s not to love?

Further exploration of  director David Fincher’s sophisticated use of mise en scene to reveal unspoken clues about each character provided the audience an opportunity to observe the work of an expert filmmaker. Diane ended her portion of the discussion by proposing a film-theory enhanced definition of therapy:  the turning of words into a visual story.  She then  asked  therapists in the audience whether interiority (the access to the internal) can ever be achieved by words alone?

Loretta Polish offered a variety of psychoanalytically oriented observations about the film’s protagonist. She pondered Lisbeth’s capacity to survive, highlighting the “organizing properties of rage”, and  her “formidable powers-she rides a bike like a coiled spring of energy.”  She also emphasized the film’s focus on the restorative powers of relationships-primarily Blomkvist and Salander.  The concept of “post traumatic growth” in which there is a transformation from victim to survivor provided a possible understanding of the developmental transformation of the film’s main character.

Brian Murphy also focused Lisbeth Salander, citing her capacity to deliver “just the right amount’ of revenge to those deemed deserving.  We, the audience, feel safer to ride along with her, trusting that she will do only the right thing.

There was an interesting comparison between the Swedish and American films, with a consensus that the American film “softened” the story a bit.  Brian ended his talk with the gritty opening clip of Fincher’s film, a mesmerizing journey into nightmare, accompanied by the music of Nine Inch Nails.  Perfect.

Jolyn Wagner

Reel Deal Past Seasons, View from the Couch
4 Comments to “The Reel Deal Presents: The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    I think we lover Lisbeth because she is a virtuous rebel with tender feelings that she protects. If she were just a rebel but lacked virtue we wouldn’t love her. But she is courageous, decisive, perseverant, with a strong sense of justice and self-respect. These are the virtues of a warrior. She is also spontaneous and unfettered by convention. Lisbeth may lack some of the softer virtues: compassion, kindness, friendliness, etc., but she has enough virtues for us to admire her. Obviously, she has been hurt in her past life (she tried to burn her father to death when she was 12), and so finds it hard to love others. But she does fall in love with Mikel, only to be disappointed when he returns to his old girlfriend. We feel her disappointment and sense of loss, which is intensified by the song that plays over the credits at the end of the film whose lyrics are about someone who would be her rock in the ocean. Who wouldn’t love someone with all those virtues, a hard exterior but a soft inside,…and a dragon tattoo?!

  2. Brian Murphy says:

    One reason we like Lisbeth so much is that she is very sexy in what is, to most of us, a new way.

  3. Brian Murphy says:

    One reason we like Lisbeth so much is that she is very sexy in what is, to most of us, a new way.

  4. Bruce Russell says:

    Yup, she’s got a great body AND that dragon tattoo. That’s a symbol of the “new way.” She’s unconventional, spontaneous, willing to interrupt a conversation for a F..ling.

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