REUTERS & SONY PICTURES - Violence, a sexually abused heroine and the forbidding wintry landscape of director David Fincher's new "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" film may alter any pre-conceived notions of Sweden as a socialist paradise. Fincher, British actor Daniel Craig who plays investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara who plays Lisbeth Salander introduced the first instalment of the book-turned-film 'Millennium'-trilogy in Berlin on Thursday (January 5).
"I think there are a couple of issues here," Craig told Reuters Television ahead of the Germany premiere of the Hollywood version of Swedish author Stieg Larsson's best-selling thriller. "One, the Scandinavians are particularly good story tellers. When it's dark six months of the year you have to find things to entertain you, so they are very good at telling long tales of death and destruction and fear" said Craig. "We are not trying to ram it down people's throats but Stieg Larsson had some very strong agendas. He was a strident anti-fascist. And just the idea that in modern society there is a veneer of respectability and underneath it there lurks darkness and that seems to be so very true for most societies," Craig said.
Mara added: "I think the story and the characters are specifically Swedish and the way the society is depicted in the book is specifically Swedish but all these themes can be found in every country, definitely", the actress said.
Sweden is known for its cradle-to-grave welfare system and Ikea department stores. The film and books paint another picture, more in tune with its bleak and cold winters and a dark side found in a number of Swedish crime novels that have taken the publishing world by storm in the last decade.
Since its Dec. 20 release, "Dragon Tattoo" has grossed $60 million domestically. It grossed an additional $12 million in the other markets in which it has opened, including Sweden and the U.K. That is well short of the movie's $90 million production budget and less than the $104 million grossed by 2009's Swedish "Dragon Tattoo" film, which had a $13 million production budget, and grossed $10 million at North America box office, according to Entertainment Industry Analysis website thewrap.com.
The film received solid reviews and critics especially praised Rooney Mara's appearance as the fearless sexual abuse survivor and punkish computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Mara, 26, beat out a number of well-known Hollywood actresses such as Scarlett Johannson, Natalie Portman and Ellen Page for one of the most coveted roles of the year. The actress, who comes from a U.S. football family, said she believed the role of the tough and troubled but vulnerable Lisbeth Salander should have gone to someone fairly unknown, especially as so many people read the book or saw the Swedish adaptation of the film. "After I read the books I really did feel like she was somebody that I understood and I felt like I had to play her", Mara told Reuters.
In the story, Salander teams up with journalist Mikael Blomkvist in search of a killer. Blomkvist is played by Craig, best known for the role of James Bond.
"Dragon Tattoo" is the first of the late Larsson's best-selling Millennium trilogy of books, which has sold more than 60 million copies in 48 countries worldwide.
Helena Lindblad, a film critic at the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, said the huge success of the books and the films had opened the world market for other Scandinavian authors and actors, for example Noomi Rapace who played Salander in the Swedish adaption of the trilogy for the screen.