Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition

(Sweden, 2011)

Here’s a remarkable thing. We loved the three movies made from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2 hours and 32 minutes), The Girl Who Played With Fire (2 hours and 9 minutes) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2 hours and 27 minutes). That adds up to a bit over seven hours of screen time. But as everyone knows, you can’t make a movie out of a dense novel without leaving out large parts of it. The writers and directors of these movies did the best they could, given the restraints of a theatrical release, where even two and a half hours is considered long.

But the trilogy was originally made for Swedish television, and later edited down to three movies. And now that 9-hour miniseries is available on DVD and—now that we’ve finally got the silly box working—Netflix streaming. And guess what? It was already great, and now it’s much better! Everything that was great the first time around, including Noomi Rapace’s iconic performance (and seeing it again makes me even more disappointed in Rooney Mara’s anemic presence in the remake), plus almost two hours of stuff that wasn’t needed to further the plot, but is wonderful for character development. Many characters were severely short-changed in the original, including some that were lost entirely on the cutting room floor. The most significant was Kalle Blomkvist’s co-editor and long-time lover, Erika Berger, who really comes to life here. Another is the only person Lisbeth Salander trusts in the whole world, her old guardian Holger Palmgren. Also greatly fleshed out are the other writers at Millennium magazine, and the police who are trying to find Lisbeth. Whole sub-plots are restored and, oddly enough, the very complex plot becomes easier to follow with all this extra information and slightly slower pace than it was in the movies. If you liked these books and movies, you really should see this.

One more thing. It is interesting to reflect that this mini-series was made for Swedish television. Not only are all the scenes of nudity and sex that we saw in the theater intact in this version, there are several that were cut. Of course, we can see these movies on HBO and its ilk, but the fact is that stuff like this is broadcast all the time on European television. The fact is that Europeans are much more adult when it comes to sex. The fact is that the US is sexually retarded, infantile, perverted. I sure as hell wish I lived in a grown-up country. And no, I don’t want to move to Sweden. I want the US to grow up.