January 13, 2011

THE AMERICAN LISBETH SALANDER, OR: HOW TO TURN A CHARACTER INTO SUICIDE GIRL SHOPPING PORN


I don't even want to debate the notion whether it is okay for somebody to remake a movie (no, no, it is not a remake of the movie, it is another dig at the source material, like, the book, y'know) that is barely two years old.

And no, I don't give a damn that this one is going to be different, like, this one's going to be an AMERICAN remake of a foreign movie, and we all know that in the mind of Hollywood that alone means it must be inherently better, more important, because if they American audiences can't get their little English-speaking movies, then the movie doesn't exist for the majority of them (god, thinking? Reading subtitles? Fuck that shit, pass me the chips).

Nor do I give a damn that it is David Fincher doing the remake. No, really. I don't give a flying fuck. Or that somebody will invariably point to "all the different interprations that have been made of Shakespeare's plays."

Gosh. Guess what. The reason that there are so many interpretations of Shakespeare is that they were plays, which in and of themselves make them fleeting experiences, and anybody who has ever been to a theatre more than once would know that each night you get a slightly different interpretation. Or a slightly different take on the material.

Guess what. Movies are not plays. Movies are static. Movies are locked in. Unless, of course, you are George Lucas, and the movies in question are called Star Wars, at which point you continue to add shit to them and re-sell them over and over. Or if you are James Cameron, and you tell people that on the super-special-extra-3D-├╝ber-edition of Avatar you get to see the movie finally the way it was meant to be. Or if you are Ridley Scott, and you have produced... what now? Seven different cuts of Blade Runner? 

I used to be so lenient with Hollywood. Live and let live. And when the special editions, the director's cut editions, the "no, really, this is the last final edition" editions began to appear, and in my case it was the special edition of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship, I was actually happy. What? More Lord of the Rings? The scenes that they couldn't put into the already lengthy theatrical version? Wooohoo!

I also consider the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven a masterpiece, and the theatrical cut an abortion of epic proportions, so it is not necessarily that different versions, different takers, even remakes are necessarily a bad thing.

Statistically speaking, though, they are.

For most remakes, most expanded, reworked, definitive, whatever takes on any given source material are made for one reason, and one reason alone: money. Can we get a little bit more out of this? Can we fleece the audience one more time? Come on, you know there is, what do they call it, a "built-in audience"? Sequels. Prequels. Sidequels. More. More. More of the same! That's what we want. We can sell it, drink it, eat it, fuck it, make sweet love to it in the morning!

Don't you just fucking hate that?

The "source material". Usually it is a book or another movie, and it is treated like something from a strip mine, usually by people who think they can do better, only the can't because if they could, yes, people, this includes the remake of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's writer and David Fincher and a shitload of other people... if they could do something better, why don't they?

Why don't they sit down and write something that is better and original? I tell you why.

Because writing something original, warts and all, even if it is not perfect, demands a lot more creativity and guts than doing a "different take" on what is already out there.

And they are not "better". They just delude themselves to be.

It is the ultimate the fan fiction, the remake is.

It is lazy, it is derivative, and what makes it worse is that somebody else has already done the majority of the work for you. You just have to pick and choose from those elements and create your own Frankenmovie.

Don't believe me? Compare some of those movies (because they were sooooo remade). Both John Carpenter's The Fog and its remake as well as Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 and the remake that one spawned. Compare Dinner with Schmucks with the original French movie. Compare Nikita with the original Luc Besson movie.

All of which brings me to the American Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now, I actually didn't like the books, but that may have something to do with the fact I couldn't read them in Swedish, and bot the German and English translations showed a really abhorrent style.

I did, however, love the movie. I did love it for one reason, and one reason alone. It didn't turn Lisbeth Salander into a suicide porn girl. And it didn't shy away from anything. The rape sequence in the movie did exactly what it was supposed to do. It made me want to look away, to jump up and grab Salander's guardian by the throat and choke him to death, it made me uncomfortable even watching it. And I told a friend of mine, "they would never do this in an American movie. This would be off screen, or in extreme close-ups, so that you don't get to see the sheer atrocity of it, only the reaction by the character".

But what do I know? They have remade it anyway, and they are introducing "their" Lisbeth Salander in the most American way I could think of. In a heroin chice shopping porn shoot in an American magazine. Of course they did. Look at her! She poses! She struts! She has that cigarette between her lips in such a way that it screams "I will suck your dick". 



There are more porn poses in this introductory "photo shoot" than there were in all three of the Swedish movies. The character loses her integrity even before she is on the screen, for hey, you know what? Not only do you get wank material, no, you get told what exactly you need to wear and/or buy to look exactly like Rooney Mara's Lisbeth Salander.

Woohooo! Buy the jersey! Buy the wrist-strap! Where do I get that choker?

Label me, label me, brand me, make me you!

How disappointing.

How crass.

That's what it is. American commercialism. I am sure that in the eventual blu-ray version of it, you can connect to an online store that will sell you them all. The clothes. The accessories. The bike. And so the ultimate fan fiction will become the ultimate fan fuck.