The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Why I’ll watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo even if I don’t care about Millennium

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Once upon a time Sweden was known for two things: Abba and sexy ladies. This has apparently changed over the years. Nowadays the comment you’re most likely to get if you’re travelling abroad, exposing your origin will be:

“Oh, you’re from Sweden? I love the Millennium series”!

My answer will always be the same:

“Yeah. Well. Um… frankly I haven’t read them myself”.

And I feel a little bit embarrassed as I say it, as if I had broken against the Swedish Code of Conduct neglecting to try out the biggest export hit my country has seen in years for myself.

To be honest I just never felt the itch to read them. I saw a couple of the movies and I suppose they were okay, but not much more than that, since I’m basically not all that much into thrillers.

There was also the problem that once a book becomes a “phenomena”, to the extent that you’ll find it not only in book stores, but also in far distant god forgotten villages all over the world, I get suspicious.

I still shudder at the memory of The Da Vinci Code, which I found unreadable since it was just amazingly badly written, filled to the brim with clichés. While I normally finish any book I once I’ve started reading it, I gave up on Dan Brown after just a few pages in order not to vomit, and I swore never to read anything more by him.

Unfair or not – I’m prejudiced against the Millennium trilogy due to its sheer success Nevertheless I’m probably going to watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  

Not because it’s the Millennium series (obviously). Not because of the casting; I’m not a star-driven movie visitor. A certain director or a screenwriter has more attraction on me than an actor name. Not to stroke my Swedish ego, since I usually don’t like the US adaptations of European movies. They seem pointless to me. Why take something that is good and make it worse, which is what happens in nine out of ten cases? Just because people can’t be arsed to read subtitles? We do it all the time. Get used to it! (Yes, I’m probably just old and grumpy and narrow-minded, but it’s a bit off topic, so I’ll leave that discussion for another day.)

Remaking of my city
No, the reason for my curiosity is that my home town was one of the shooting locations of the movie and I want to see how it came out in the end. It felt almost unreal to have a major Hollywood production in place for about a month. It was what everyone talked about and it topped the local news every day as long as it lasted. We hadn’t got this kind of attention since the shooting of Fanny & Alexander, so many years ago.

The result is just a very short sequence, which as far as I understand it, won’t take up more than a couple of minutes in the movie. Brief or not, the shooting of it required a huge machinery. Since the scenes took place in the 60s, they had to make false facades for a stretch of one of the central streets. Street signs were switched and they switched colour for the pedestrian crossing from white to yellow, like they were in that time.

The remaking went on for weeks, and eventually, as the actual filming approached, they shut off entire quarters, and put up guards everywhere who made sure that only people with special permissions entered the filming location. Since my working place is located in the affected area, I could follow the project day by day, and it was quite fascinating. Of course I already knew theoretically that a Hollywood production is Big Business, but watching it so closely made it feel more real. For the most part I couldn’t see the actual shootings, since my office window was facing the wrong direction. But I could hear it loud and clearly. There’s a scene with a Children’s Day’s parade, and apparently they had to repeat it or take several shots of it, because I listened to the music quite a few times over a couple of days.

My glimpse of Daniel Craig
And yes, I did get a glimpse of Daniel Craig, who has the leading role in this movie. This is how it happened:

One morning as I arrived at my work I had to take the back door since they had put up a new fence, preventing me from using the normal entrance. And out of nowhere a telephone booth had spawned, a little bit worn, looking as if it had been there forever.

The shooting began next day and it turned out that I could get a glimpse of it from a window in my corridor, together with a bunch of colleagues, who like me enjoyed an exceptionally long coffee break.

Obviously I didn’t get what you’d call a close look (if we’d been really close, they would no doubt have shooed us away from the windows so we wouldn’t spoil the movie.) And of course I hadn’t been smart enough to bring a pair of binoculars with me.

But after a while we figured out which one of all those people who must be The Star. There was something about him. He stood out among everyone else, either it was because he was pretty tall or due to a certain star quality that made him seem shiny. In any case I was 99 percent sure that it actually was Daniel Craig. He looked freezing cold, which was understandable. The weather wasn’t terrible, but typically Swedish and if you spend long hour outdoors it must be a chilling experience. Between every take someone ran forward and put on him a huge expedition down jacket to use as a shelter until it was time for the next piece of action.

The reset
The filming didn’t take more than a couple of days, but all the work to transform our city to look historically correct made the adventure last for about a month. If it had been fascinating to see the city transform to an older look, it was saddening to see it reverse to its normal look. I wasn’t the only one who wished we could have kept the new facades. And how quickly it went! It was like to watch the wagon turning into a pumpkin as the clock strikes twelve in Cinderella.

We still have our memories though, from the few days when Hollywood paid us a brief visit. In four months time we’ll resurrect them as we watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I couldn’t care less about Millennium, but I’ll watch it nevertheless.

Just don’t they dare leave out my home town’s two minutes of fame in the final cut. Keep your hands off!

Written by Jessica

August 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. I hear you loud and clear regarding The Da Vinci Code, which I forced myself to finish, simply to see if the hype had any reason. (I’d read Holy Blood, Holy Grail many years previously, so I didn’t feel that the “scandal” was about anything new, simply a stolen idea, and I hated that Dan Brown got all the glory for it.) And wished I hadn’t. I haven’t seen the film.

    I don’t even know about the Millenium series. Is that bad of me?!

    I felt the same way about the Torchwood series, which was filmed mostly in and around Cardiff, I was curious, I wanted to see how it portrayed my city, a city in which I’d been born and grew up. To see my Cardiff being put on the map was fantastic, and to spot places in it was a lot of fun. But watching Torchwood itself was akin to having teeth pulled. In the end I had to give up. On the (pretty much only) plus side, it has stressed that Cardiff is in Wales a number of times!

    Alq

    August 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    • Hehe, I don’t think you should feel bad about it not hearing of Millennium, but I think you’re a bit unusual. As I visited Scotland recently I got remarks about Stieg Larsson and Millennium wherever I went if I admitted being from Sweden. That and the Wallander crime fiction. I was quite astonished at how established it seems to be.

      I’ve never seen Torchwood. It must have been really bad if you gave up about watching your hometown.
      There is something compelling about seeing familliar places in movies imo.

      Jessica

      August 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm

  2. I blazed through The Da Vinci Code and it’s predecessor, Angels and Demons. I recognize that the writing is awful. The prose is just mind-numbingly bad. The kind of terrible sentences that you have to read several times over just to make sure you’ve understand the tenses. And yeah, the books are cliché to the point of pure idiocy. But I hold that Dan Brown is some sort of evil genius. He structures his books in such a way as to make it impossible for me not to finish them in an evening.

    You see, all his chapters are extremely short, and each one ends with a cliffhanger. And, well, I’m a total sucker. I get to the end of a chapter and even though I recognize the stupidity of what I’m reading, I flip ahead and see the next chapter is only 5 pages. “I can read that in a couple minutes, no problem, at least I’ll see what happens next.” Rinse. Repeat for each chapter. It goes on like this right up to the end of the book.

    I do feel shame.

    As for the Millenium trilogy. I read the first book, and it was extremely difficult to get through, for the most part. The first couple hundred pages were terribly boring, and the last two or three hundred made me want to shoot myself. But the middle of the book, the stuff involving the murder mystery, that was all totally intriguing. Really badly written, but somehow captivating nonetheless. I didn’t read past the first book though.

    I thought the first movie was solid, and actually an improvement over the book in that it cut out all the boring corporate/political garbage. Then I went and saw the second movie and wanted to tear my eyes out. So dreadfully bad.

    But I am really excited for the American version. Not because of Daniel Craig. Not because I care to re-live the story again. Nope, the reason I’m excited is David Fincher. He is just such a fantastic director, and I can’t wait to see him elevate the poorly written and tawdry source material. At least, I hope he manages to elevate it. The tone of the teaser trailer seems to indicate that he’s on the right track.

    Corey Atad

    August 26, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    • Hehe, there’s no reason to feel ashamed about liking a crappy novel! I’ve enjoyed reading a LOT of novels that are considered immensly bad in the public opinon. There’s nothing bad about cliffhanger tricks and such. It’s just that in my case it wasn’t enough to pull me over. As you say, it was so cliché burdened that it turned into pure idiocy and I ran out of patience wtih that. It wasn’t even entertaining, just annoying.

      Oh and yes, David Fincher! That’s a good reason as well to watch the movie, I had forgotten about his participation in the project. I’ve loved several of his movies in the past, not only the latest succes The Social Network. I’m not ashamed to say that I like The curious Case of Benjamin Button, even if film buffs tend to frown their nose at it. And The Game! Wonderful, wonderful movie, although quite unpleasant. So yes, Fincher definitely speaks for this movie to become something worth watching, not only because my home town appears in it.

      Jessica

      August 26, 2011 at 11:09 pm

  3. You should read the books and watch the Swedish movies, they’re both very good unlike the Da Vinci Code. Hey, you don’t even have to use subtitles unlike me.

    I also really adored the recent movie Let the Right one in. Haven’t watched the remake but I can’t imagine how it could have done any better. The same with the Millennium remake, what’s the use? It’s already filmed in a great way.

    And only months ago they were shooting Erik Van Looys American remake of Loft here in Belgium. He’s allowed to direct it himself and one of our best actors, Matthias Schoenaerts will take one of the leading roles next to Wentworth Miller. I usually don’t care much about remakes but in this case it’s a great way for both persons to make it in Hollywood.

    Carra

    August 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    • I’ve seen a couple of the Swedish movies, and they were OK. I especially liked Noomi Rapace. She was perfect in her role imo.

      Let the Right one in is absolutely wonderful, just as the novel was. Actually I’ve heard only good stuff about Let me in, but I haven’t yet been able to motivate myself to watch it. At least it’s comforting to know they didn’t screw it up completely.

      But basically I’m quite with you about remakes of recent movies, just because people are reluctant to read subtitles on the other side of the ocean.

      Jessica

      August 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm

  4. Hehe, a good read. Your post I mean. 😉 About the Millennium books, well, they are a pretty good read as well. Page turners according to me, but sure, it’s a bit hard to understand the paramount success. I guess they are “folkliga” but still has some sort of edge.

    I’ve seen all three films. The first one is the best but not anything special. I gave it 3+/5. Noomi is really good in all three. Looking forward to the remake by Fincher but it still feels a bit unnecessary, as usual when it comes to american remakes of foreign movies (one exception is The Ring which I thought was way better than the original).

    My brother lives in the town you write about and I was also there on a visit during the shooting. I didn’t get a glimpse of any of the actors but the I saw the street were the shooting were to take place.

    Jojjenito

    September 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    • I know what you mean about feeling unnecessary. I try not to take it as an insult, but still… it makes you wonder. Often the result is just a WORSE movie. Such as Three men and a baby. A wonderful charming French movie, turned into something rather uninteresting starring Tom Selleck… Sigh. It does happen occasionally that they succeed, but it’s rare. Anyway: in this case I can’t help liking it, because having Hollywood as a guest for a month was quite fascinating.

      Jessica

      September 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm

  5. […] As comes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I’ll definitely watch it. Not only is David Fincher a director I respect; my home town also appears in it; I even heard the recordings of the orchestra as they shot it in the neighbourhood to where I work and I can’t wait to see that telephone boot where I thought I got a glimpse of Daniel Craig. […]


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