Why David Fincher's 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' Changed The Storyby: Posted:
(WARNING! If the headline doesn't give it away, this article absolutely contains spoilers for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" - both the book and the movie. Turn back now, if you want your full enjoyment to remain intact.)
Those who have seen David Fincher's newly released "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" might've noticed some things missing. Namely, the original's ending.
Reactions obviously vary, but these things happen often with page-to-screen adaptations. It's particularly tricky with longer novels dissecting what's fairly unimportant and must remain intact. When it comes to series adaptations, there's also certain Hell to sometimes catch: some fans bitched a little when Peter Jackson's "The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring" hit theaters that it actually ends a little short of where J.R.R. Tolkien's book of the same name would've.
A frequent alternative? Split one book into two cinematic parts, ala "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" or "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows." Still another option? Just leave things out. That's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" screenwriter Steve Zaillian's approach toward Stieg Larsson's acclaimed first "Millenium series" novel.
(LAST WARNING! The next paragraph begins the spoilers, including the ending. Read on at your own risk.)
“I think there were probably about a hundred pages setting everything up in terms of Blomkvist (played in the flim by Daniel Craig) and his situation,” Zaillian, describing some of the Ficher-estimated 350 pages cut from Larsson's story for the movie, told Entertainment Weekly.
“There’s probably another 50 or 60 pages of [Larsson] doing the same thing with Salander (played in the film by Rooney Mara). Those things obviously had to go.”
Another cut might've been a gamble with altering Blomkvist's potential perception. Zaillian confirmed dropping the murder-investigating protagonist's tryst with Cecilia Vanger, a kinder member of the family that's enlisted the embattled Blomkvist to look into the disappearance and murder of Harriet Vanger. Zaillian explained that omitting that subplot not only shortened up the movie, but might've de-emphasized Blomkvist's wandering eyes.
“Mikael had a relationship with her that went on for a lot of pages,” Zaillian said. "“I’m a fan of the book—I like it very much—but when I was reading it at a certain point I thought, am I reading 'Shampoo'? Is this Warren Beatty or is this Mikael Blomkvist? I didn’t drop those things in order to make him more sympathetic. It was really just that they were unnecessary to the story.”
Leaving out those things? Sometimes, that's understandable. But messing with an ending? One should usually tread lightly. Zaillian admittedly welded together two narratives into one, but claims he did so purely in the name of thrifty writing.
“I wasn’t trying to do something different or trying to fix something,” says Zaillian. “I just thought it was a good idea. when I read the book, I thought, ‘Why are we going so far afield for this mystery to be resolved? Might it be a little more interesting if it’s solved a little closer to home?’ That’s all there was to it. I kind of felt it was right for the character.”