Just watched the film version of this book (a few weeks ago I wrote about one of the main characters, Lisbeth Salander). Reading the books was like going to another world. They take place in Sweden, and not only have I never been there, I’ve never even seen pictures. I’ve gone to Ikea, and I love Swedish meatballs and lingonberries, but that’s how much I know about Sweden. One the one hand, that made the book more fun, because it felt like I was reading about another world. Yet it made some things harder to access. It’s harder to picture something in your head when you have never seen it.
I saw it when we watched the movie “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” last night. Sweden looks cold. I mean, frigid cold. Watching it made me want to put on a sweater. In July. In Atlanta. The landscape is a character in any story, though, and the harshness of the climate made the relationships seem more important. Plus it was good to know what the characters experience when they’re running away from bad guys. So it was good to see the world in which these books take place.
Mostly, though, I enjoyed hearing the dialogue in Swedish. I don’t speak Swedish, but subtitles are closer to the mark than dubbing. The acting, along with the subtitles, brought home nuances about the film. For instance, the Swedish title of this movie is “Men Who Hate Women.” Wow! That’s a really big difference. Also, by speaking it in Swedish, the actors can give the words the right inflection, the right tone, at just the right time. When they exclaim, it’s true to their culture. When they are confused, it’s a Swedish confusion, not an Atlanta or New York confusion. The differences are minor, but they give the movie a flavor that it wouldn’t have had if it shot in Minnesota with Hollywood actors.
Watching this movie brought the book to life in many ways. If you have read the book, watch the movie. If you haven’t read the book, read it first, then see the movie. Putting them together is a great way to experience the fullness of this great story.