I saw the original Swedish version of The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo a couple of months ago and really liked it. It’s a dark movie but it was strong in story and characters. The intro to the 2011 version is fantastic.
The new one came out and I recently went to see it with a friend. For the most part, David Fincher’s version of The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo is almost the exactly same movie with different actors. There are parts from the first one that I enjoyed more and scenes from the new one that I felt helped flush out certain pieces better. Overall, having watched both movies I get a much more complete story of Lisbeth Salander. This is not an easy movie to watch. It’s gritty, visceral and deals with some heavy themes. I recommend an afternoon viewing so you can go out and do something a bit happy afterwards.
So let’s go over scenes. Gonna be some spoilers here so there’s your warning to stay out until you’ve seen it. That being said, I thought the original did a better job of showing just how rough Lisbeth had it in dealing with men. She gets beat up in the subway, her PC guru contact guy is a jerk and the flash backs to the story with her father help reinforce that she has a lot of reasons to hate men, besides all the reasons that happen in both movies.
I also feel the original does a bit of a better job of the relationship between Lisbeth and Mikael. Mikael reaches out to her a couple of times out of kindness only to have her be withdrawn, she then goes to him realizing his kindess is genuine. The newer one you don’t really have that come across. He gets shot and then she just drops trough and they go from there. It still fits within her character but there’s no real build up for that happening the way it does. Especially with her distaste for men.
The bible codes being solved and the way Lisbeth gets recruited by Mikael also differ a fair amount. The newer one has Mikael’s daughter being religious and she happens to notice the codes on his wall when she’s visiting. She then calls back the answer as an afterthought as she’s leaving. Originally Lisbeth is still spying on Mikael and solves this on her own. She then emails him the answer which leads him to her. Instead we get Mikael asking for an assistant which prompts them to go to her as she was the one who investigated him before his being hired. Both seem to play well, I tend to lean towards the version where Lisbeth is still spying on him. The newer scenes with his daughter are nice, but they feel like throw away plot connections. She’s a character added in just to help make this leap between story elements.
As we approach the ending, the original’s flashback scenes with her burning her father alive come into play. There’s a final chase scene where she goes after Martin. In the original she has a chance to pull Martin out of the car wreckage before he burns to death. She doesn’t and lets him burn. Mikael doesn’t approve but understands why she did that. Over to the newer one she’s walking up to the car accident with a gun, but the car explodes before she has a chance to do anything.
Lastly, the endings. The original actually stops a bit short of the newer movie. Lisbeth has just begun her trip to clean out the bank accounts and it ends. So you never really understand what happens. I assumed she had just gone off to start a new life. The new movie expands on a bit more and you realize she’s cleaning out the bank accounts and getting a crap load of money. She then spends a good amount getting this jacket as a gift for Mikael only to see he’s back with this other chick romantically. This is the last betrayal for Lisbeth and you can see she’ll probably never love anyone again. It’s a powerful scene. I like it better in terms of story as it completes the picture, but it’s not a happy ending and you feel sad about it. You want this girl to have something good in her life and she keeps having it taken away. However, the original movie has her meeting up with her mom who’s in a mental hospital and there’s a certain peace you feel she takes away from that. It’s a happier ending for sure.
Both are good movies and I recommend you watch them both, it doesn’t matter which order you watch them in.