Acclaimed film director, David Fincher, follows up 2010’s Facebook profiler “The Social Network” with action thriller “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. Returning to the grittier content that first caught our attention in films such as “Se7en” and “Fight Club”, Fincher’s vision of celebrated author Stieg Larsson’s crime drama is nail bitingly tense, absorbingly complex and straight out gripping as the main characters, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a journalist, and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) work together to uncover a mystery on a remote Swedish island. Landing an 18 rating for its scenes of violence and rape, Fincher is unapologetic for reflecting real world violence in his work and revels in the dark humour of soundtracking one torture scene with Enya’s “Orinoco Flow”. We talk to the filmmaker about his version of the film, his need to portray graphic violence and his failure to get Daniel Craig to gain weight.
What was it that attracted you to this project?
Those two characters, Lisbeth and Mikael. I think that Larrson did a really spectacular job of dramatising the incredibly inhumane things that [Lisbeth] overcomes and I think that Blomkvist appreciates that and can see that. And I like thrillers where the audience is in a slightly resistant place. Their sense of disbelief is much harder because often you put them in a situation that they don’t want to be in and don’t want to experience.
The rape scene of Lisbeth is particularly difficult to digest – why do you think it is important to show that in such graphic detail?
Well, rape is really horrific. I needed people to be horrified and offended by the act itself – so when people say to me “God! The rape in this movie is really upsetting” my attitude is “fuck yeah! It’s supposed to be.” There is a lot of stuff that happens in her back-story that is not part of the first book that informs who she is. So it has to be something that the audience experiences so that you realise that there is so much about her that Mikael doesn’t know and so much that she has experienced first hand so that when she does drops her armour, it’s a real time emotional thing where she allows him into her life and you have experienced what her life has been before that.
For some, listening to Enya has always been a form of torture – do you feel the same way and is this why the song is played during a torture scene?
[Laughs] It was a little sardonic. We were rehearsing the scene and I was explaining that I saw [the torturer] as an audiophile. I like the idea that it was in the late 70s or early 80s that he equipped his dungeon and everything had kind of stayed that way. And when we started talking about the music that should play, it was Daniel Craig who ran to his iPod and scrolled through it and said “This!” and played Orinoco Flow by Enya. We all laughed ourselves silly and thought “we have to do it!”
We heard that Daniel had to get out of shape to play Mikael Blomkvist – but he still looks ripped!
Well, his idea of out of shape is my idea of 10 years of sit-ups. He literally looks the same as he did in Layer Cake – so it’s ridiculous this notion that he got out of shape for this movie, but I did ask him. I said “[Mikael is] not a guy who runs. You smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day.” It’s what Steig Larrson was talking about – this is a guy that is much more in his head than in his body. He can engage in the things that have happened with Lisbeth but purely intellectually. I always saw the journey as the story of a guy that says “I know the evil that men can do” and she will look at him square in the eye and say “buddy, you have no idea” and by the end of the movie he is a changed man because he has seen it in a completely different way.
Will you direct the sequel?
Oh god. I don’t know that. Not this week!
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is in cinemas December 26th 2011
Words: Seamus Duff