The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009 film)

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Lisbeth Salander with Mikael Blomkvist
Swedish release poster
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
Produced by Søren Stærmose
Screenplay by
Based on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
Music by Jacob Groth
Edited by Anne Østerud
Distributed by
Release date
  • 27 February 2009 (2009-02-27)
Running time
153 minutes[1]
Country Sweden[2]
Language Swedish
Budget $13 million[3]
Box office $104 million[3]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor, literally "Men who hate women") is a 2009 Swedish drama thriller film based on the novel of the same name by Swedish author/journalist Stieg Larsson. It is the first book in the trilogy known as the Millennium series, published in Sweden in 2005. By August 2009, it had been sold to 25 countries outside Scandinavia and had been seen by more than 6 million people in the countries where it was already released. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the film stars Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace.


In December 2002, Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of Millennium magazine, loses a libel case involving allegations he published about billionaire financier Hans-Erik Wennerström. He is sentenced to three months in prison and a hefty fine. Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but damaged surveillance agent and hacker, is hired by Henrik Vanger, the patriarch of the wealthy Vanger family, to investigate Blomkvist. Vanger then hires Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his niece, Harriet, who vanished on Children's Day in 1966. Vanger believes that Harriet was murdered by a family member. Henrik explains that his brothers- Gottfried, Richard and Harald- were all supporters of the Nazi regime. Richard died during the war and is not a suspect for Harriet's murder. Gottfried is described as having been in the Hitler Youth, an aggressive alcoholic whose marriage to Harriet and Martin's mother was cold and toxic and the two lived separately with the children living with their father. Henrik also says that he 'never saw anyone be a worse mother than she was to Harriet'. Gottfried died a year before Harriet disappeared, he went out in his boat drunk and drowned in the lake, Henrik then took responsibility for Martin and Harriet. Harald is a recluse who still holds strong Nazi views and is a suspect for the murder as is Harriet's mother and all the other family members who were present on that day. Henrik also shows Blomkvist a room whose walls are covered with pressed flowers, the first ones were gifts from Harriet and ever since her disappearance a flower has arrived each year from different places around the world. Henrik believes that Harriet's killer is sending them.

Salander, who was ruled mentally incompetent as a child, is appointed a new legal guardian, Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), after her previous guardian suffers a stroke. Bjurman, a sexual sadist, makes it clear to Lisbeth that unless she co-operates with him he will make her life very difficult, threatening her with incarceration in a mental hospital. Bjurman takes over control of Lisbeth's bank account so she has no access to her own money and must come to him for every expense despite the fact that she has a steady job and pays all her bills on time. Lisbeth lies to Bjurman about the nature of her work, pretending that she is just an office assistant, and doesn't inform him about the nature of the work which Milton Security does.

Lisbeth is attacked by a group of drunk thugs in the subway. Although she manages to fight them off her laptop is broken. She visits a hacker friend of hers, 'Plague', who can save the hard drive and let her use his spare PC but Lisbeth needs to get a replacement laptop. She goes to see Bjurman who forces Salander to perform fellatio on him in return for the money she needs to buy a new computer but he withholds the full amount she needs. Lisbeth calls him again the next day but at the meeting with Bjurman he handcuffs her to his bed, beats and rapes her. Lisbeth had taken one of the hidden cameras from work, thinking she would simply be required to perform fellatio again, it captures the full two hours of sexual assault and Lisbeth returns to Bjurman, uses a taser to incapacitate him and then ties him up, she shows him the hidden camera footage, explains what Milton security really does and tells him that she is taking back control of her money and life, he is to file reports stating that her behaviour is exemplary and in one year he is to recommend that Lisbeth is released from the guardianship programme. If any 'accident' happens to Lisbeth then the film will be released and any threat to her will result in the same outcome. She then uses a tattoo machine to brand Bjurman's abdomen with the message "I am a sadist pig and a rapist".

Blomkvist moves to a cottage on the Vanger estate and meets the Vanger family, including Harriet's brother Martin who is the head of the Vanger group and cousin Cecilia. Martin is congenial and has Blomkvist over for dinner, he and Cecelia both think that Harriet simply ran away as she was unhappy at home.

Inside Harriet's diary, Blomkvist finds a list of five names alongside what might appear to be phone numbers. He visits retiring police inspector Morell, who informs him that his investigation team had been unable to decipher them. After viewing photographs taken during the Children's Day parade, Blomkvist sees Harriet's facial expression change suddenly just before she leaves and, after obtaining photographs taken from the same side of the street as her, comes to believe that Harriet may have seen her murderer that day.

Using her access to Blomkvist's computer, Salander learns that the numbers in Harriet's diary are references to verses in the Book of Leviticus and emails Blomkvist anonymously. Blomkvist works out that Salander sent the mail and hires her as a research assistant. Together, Blomkvist and Salander connect all but one of the names on Harriet's list to murdered women. They are all Jewish names, which intrigues Blomkvist, as the Vanger family has a long history of antisemitism. During the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander become lovers.

They suspect Henrik's reclusive brother Harald to be the murderer, as the two other Vanger brothers had already died by the time Harriet disappeared. Salander searches through Vanger's business records to trace Harald to the crime scenes, while Blomkvist breaks into Harald's house, believing it to be unoccupied. He discovers many Nazi texts and memorabilia amid the wreckage of the interior of the house which has been left to decay. When Harald attacks Blomkvist, Martin appears and saves him. Harald insults Martin for stopping him shooting Blomkvist, asking 'how did Gottfried ever have such a sissy for a son?' Martin escorts Blomkvist to his home, where Blomkvist reveals what he and Salander have uncovered. Martin goes to call the police but instead drugs him. Salander's search of the company accounts points to Martin and his late father, Gottfried, having been jointly responsible for the murders. She returns to the cottage to find Blomkvist missing.

Blomkvist wakes to find himself bound in Martin's cellar. Martin explains that Gottfried began teaching him to rape, torture and kill as a teenager and Martin boasts about raping and murdering women for decades since his father's death but denies killing Harriet, insisting that she disappeared. He also says that Gottfried was too theatrical, that leaving the bodies out to be found was a step too far and drew too much attention which is why he dropped that aspect of the crimes and has not been discovered, when Blomkvist and Cecelia came to dinner Martin had a young woman tied up and drugged downstairs, once they had left Martin killed her. As Martin is in the process of hanging Blomkvist, Salander appears and attacks Martin with a golf club. While she frees Blomkvist, Martin flees in his car. Salander gives chase on her motorcycle. When Martin drives off the road, Salander finds him still alive but trapped in the vehicle. As the car goes up in flames, she makes no attempt to save him.

Blomkvist realises that Cecilia's late sister Anita was the near-double of Harriet and that some of the film taken on the day of Harriet's disappearance show Anita, not Harriet as previously thought. Blomkvist and Salander discover that Harriet has been using Anita's name and is still alive in Australia. Blomkvist flies there to look for her, and he persuades her to return to Sweden, where she is reunited with her uncle. Harriet explains the truth about her disappearance: that her father and her brother had repeatedly raped her; that she killed her father by drowning him, which was witnessed by Martin; and that her cousin Anita had smuggled her away from the island after Martin returned from school. Harriet notes that her brother was harsher to her than her father and she knew that remaining on the island would lead to her death at her brother's hands. As a way of letting Henrik know she was alive, Harriet sent the pressed flowers as a signal that she was out there in the world. She apologises for frightening Henrik as he had misinterpreted these messages but Henrik reassures her, explaining that thanks to her messages the truth has come out and now they are reunited.

Salander's mother, living in a nursing home, apologises for not choosing a "better papa" for her. Salander then visits Blomkvist in prison and gives him new information on the Wennerström case. From prison, Blomkvist publishes a new story on Wennerström in Millennium, which ruins Wennerström and makes the magazine a national sensation. Wennerström is then found dead, a presumed suicide. His offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands is raided; the police suspect a young woman caught on CCTV, whom Blomkvist recognises as Salander in disguise. The film ends with Salander, dressed in disguise as she exits her car, walking along a sunny beach promenade.



Critical response[edit]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was well received by critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a normalized score of 86% based on 168 reviews, with an average score of 7.2/10 and declares it "Certified Fresh". The critical consensus is: "Its graphic violence and sprawling length will prove too much for some viewers to take, but Noomi Rapace's gripping performance makes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo an unforgettable viewing experience."[4] Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 76% based on reviews from 36 critics.[5] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars, noting that "[the film] is a compelling thriller to begin with, but it adds the rare quality of having a heroine more fascinating than the story".[6]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed more than $10 million in North America in a limited release of 202 theatres.[3] The total gross worldwide is $104,617,430.[3][7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Association Category Nominee Result
Amanda Award Best Foreign Feature Film Niels Arden Oplev Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Leading Role Noomi Rapace Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg Nominated
Best Film Not in the English Language Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Noomi Rapace Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film Niels Arden Oplev Won
Empire Awards[citation needed] Best Thriller Won
Best Actress Noomi Rapace Won
European Film Awards Audience Award Niels Arden Oplev Nominated
Best Actress Noomi Rapace Nominated
Best Composer Jacob Groth Nominated
Guldbagge Award Audience Award Niels Arden Oplev Won
Best Actress Noomi Rapace Won
Best Film Søren Stærmose Won
Best Cinematography Eric Kress Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Sven-Bertil Taube Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Award Best Foreign Language Film Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role Noomi Rapace Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Award Actress of the Year Noomi Rapace Nominated
New York Film Critics Online Award Breakthrough Performer Noomi Rapace Won
Palm Springs International Film Festival Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature Niels Arden Oplev Won
Satellite Award Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Noomi Rapace Won
Best Foreign Language Film Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Noomi Rapace Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award Best Foreign Language Film Nominated

TV mini-series[edit]

French premium pay television channel Canal+ aired extended versions of the three movies as a mini-series (6×90 minutes) between March and June 2010, before the theatrical release of the second and third films. The series premiere attracted over 1.1 million viewers. Considering the network is only available in 8 million French households, the series was a substantial success.[8] The series aired on US pay-for-view cable networks in the weeks leading up to the release of David Fincher's 2011 film adaptation of the novel.

In France, the audience of the Canal+ broadcast of the first part on 22 March 2010 was 1.2 million (18% of the channel's subscribers in the country) and the largest audience of a foreign series at Canal+ that year.[citation needed]

A home video set of all six parts of the mini-series was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc by Music Box Home Entertainment on 6 December 2011.



  1. ^ "MAN SOM HATAR KVINNOR - THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director queries US remake". BBC News. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 17, 2010a). "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago, Illinois: Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Män som hatar kvinnor en internationell kassasuccé". The Swedish Film & TV Producers (in Swedish). 4 August 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  8. ^ "Millennium trilogy". 25 March 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2011. [not in citation given]

External links[edit]