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Great vs. Good film making, or why Fincher is a God

Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 5:08 PM Central
Last updated Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 5:09 PM Central

by John Couture

It's not often in life when you can truly compare apples to apples. And when you compare apples to oranges, there are just some people that have a natural disposition to apples or oranges.

Don't worry, we didn't become a fruit website overnight, but the metaphor fits with the movie that I caught over the weekend, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I enjoyed the books and thought, like many others, that the original Swedish films were excellent.

I also thought that it would be tough for anyone to surpass Noomi Rapace's performance as the lead character Lisbeth Salander, especially not someone with so little acting experience under her belt. Man, I don't think I have ever been more wrong in my life.

Going in, I knew that I enjoyed director David Fincher's previous work quite a bit so that stylistically I would most likely enjoy his vision, but I was pretty sure that he'd treat the existing book as nothing more than a guideline and create his own story. Instead, his version of the film is actually more faithful to the book than the original Swedish movie and it elevates the film from a story to a pure piece of art.

Before I go too much farther down this path, I should point out that the original Swedish films are treated as a National treasure and it's not like there unknowns cast in it. No, the films include all of the big Swedish actors and actresses of the day and still, it barely holds a candle to Fincher's work.

I guess the best way I can put it into words is that it's the purest example of great film making versus good film making that we have seen in quite a while. The comparison is even more true because both film makers started from the same source material and the time between the release of the two films is only about two years.

In other words, it's as pure of a case of comparing apples to apples that you can get in film. Once you watch both films, I think it becomes quite clear, in my opinion, to see the nuanced differences that mark a truly great film.

I'm certainly not trashing the original movies as I still enjoy them quite a bit, it's just that David Fincher is a genius and it shows in every scene. The pacing and intercutting of the two main storylines is done with such precision that when they finally come together it's like a crescendo of a symphonic masterpiece.

In particular, I thought that Fincher stayed more faithful to Stieg Larsson's novel and in doing so brought the author's true vision to the screen. There are far too many little touches that he brought to the screen such as the stylistic brutality in which he filmed one of the story's defining moments between Lisbeth and her new advocate to the very nice Blue Velvet reference.

And in the end, that's what separates great from good, the ability to transcend the familiar and deliver something that truly resonates. For me, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will continue to resonate with me for a long time.

With news that Sony is moving forward with the sequel The Girl who Played with Fire, it would be in their best interest to do whatever it takes to secure David Fincher's services. Without him, I fear the rest of the movies will suffer. However, with him at the helm, this series has the potential to be one of the most exciting and visually stunning trilogy of films in recent memory.

Have you seen both of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies? If so, let us know if you agree or disagree.