As part of a recent stellar article in W magazine that focuses on director David Fincher, the first official shots of Rooney Mara in the role of Lisbeth Salander have been released. Any doubts that the American version wouldn't go as hard core as the Swedish films have been pretty much shelved by these.
The article goes into detail on Fincher himself, who sounds like both an unqualified master film maker, and a sort of a dick. But that's okay. Being an obsessive compulsive dick that makes movies as good as Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, ...Benjamin Button, and The Social Network is okay by me. I mean, I think working with the guy would be hard, no question, but it would be the good kind of hard. He's so exacting and meticulous that it would make you want to nail it as perfectly as he does.
Here's what the article says about Fincher's version:
The script, which captures the novel’s bleak tone (its original Swedish title was Men Who Hate Women), was written by Academy Award winner Steven Zaillian, who wrote Schindler’s List, and it departs rather dramatically from the book. Blomkvist is less promiscuous, Salander is more aggressive, and, most notably, the ending—the resolution of the drama—has been completely changed. This may be sacrilege to some, but Zaillian has improved on Larsson—the script’s ending is more interesting.
Anyway, the article also goes into detail on the lengths actress Rooney Mara had to go to just to land the role and the further lengths she went to get Salander's look right. I know a lot of people think Noomi Rapace captured her perfectly for the Swedish films, but I always thought that she seemed a little too formidable and mature, and dare I say, mainstream to me.
When I read the book, the picture of Lisbeth that I got was of a young woman with a very non-mainstream look and a deceptively slight build. It is her individuality and her slightness, combined with her intense mistrust of anyone, that allows most of the men in the book to completely underestimate her. To me, Mara looks pretty much exactly the way I pictured her.
Also, I wasn't all that impressed by the Swedish films. While I thought they were entertaining, there was something a little uninspired about them. Rapace's performance was great, even if I felt she didn't quite embody the character, but aside form that I felt they were a little workmanlike rather than thrilling. So, I'm excited to see a truly world class director like Fincher take this on. Even if he makes changes to the story, I feel he will successfully capture the "feel" of the characters and the books, which may result in a more thrilling film.
It all boils down, I guess, to what you want out of a filmed adaptation of a work from another medium. I'm all for fidelity, but if that fidelity is done strictly for the sake of fidelity, without an eye to what makes a movie work (I'm looking at you, Watchmen) that's not great. To me, the film is the film, and the book is the book, and they are two different beasts. As long as the spirit, the heart, the themes, are there, then who cares if Tom Bombadil shows up?