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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009 film)

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009 film)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Lisbeth Salander with Mikael Blomkvist
Swedish release poster
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
Produced by Søren Stærmose
Screenplay by Nikolaj Arcel
Rasmus Heisterberg
Based on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 
by Stieg Larsson
Starring Michael Nyqvist
Noomi Rapace
Music by Jacob Groth
Cinematography Eric Kress
Jens Fischer
Edited by Anne Østerud
Distributed by Nordisk Film
Release dates
  • 27 February 2009 (2009-02-27)
Running time 152 minutes
Country Sweden[1]
Language Swedish
Budget $13 million[2]
Box office $104,395,170[2]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor – literally – Men who hate women) is a 2009 Swedish drama thriller based on the novel of the same name by Swedish author/journalist Stieg Larsson. It is the first book in the trilogy known as the Millennium series, published in Sweden in 2005. The director is Niels Arden Oplev. By August 2009, it had been sold to 25 countries outside Scandinavia, most of them planning a release in 2010, and had been seen by more than 6 million people in the countries where it was already released. The protagonists were played by Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace.


In December 2002, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), publisher of Millennium magazine, loses a libel case involving allegations he published about billionaire financier Hans-Erik Wennerström (Stefan Sauk). He is sentenced to three months in prison and a hefty fine. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a brilliant but damaged surveillance agent and hacker, is hired by Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), the patriarch of the wealthy Vanger family, to investigate Blomkvist. Vanger then hires Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his niece, Harriet, who vanished on Children's Day in 1966. Vanger believes that Harriet was murdered by a family member.

Salander, who was ruled mentally incompetent as a child, is appointed a new legal guardian, Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), after her previous guardian suffers a stroke. Bjurman, a sexual sadist, forces Salander to perform fellatio on him in return for the money she needs to buy a new computer; he withholds the full amount she has requested. At her next meeting with Bjurman, he beats and rapes her. Having used a hidden camera to record Bjurman raping her, Salander returns to take her revenge, torturing him and threatening to ruin him unless he gives her full control of her life and finances. She then uses a tattoo gun to brand Bjurman's abdomen with the message "I am a sadist pig and a rapist".

Blomkvist moves into a cottage on the Vanger estate, and meets the Vanger family, including Harriet's brother Martin (Peter Haber) and cousin Cecilia (Marika Lagercrantz). Inside Harriet's diary, he finds a list of five names alongside what might appear to be phone numbers. He visits police inspector Morell (Björn Granath), who informs him that his investigation team had been unable to decipher them. After viewing photographs taken during the Children's Day parade, Blomkvist sees Harriet's facial expression change suddenly just before she leaves and, after getting photographs taken from the same side of the street as her, comes to believe that Harriet may have seen her murderer that day.

Using her access to Blomkvist's computer, Salander learns that the numbers in Harriet's diary are references to verses in the Book of Leviticus, and emails Blomkvist anonymously. Blomkvist works out that Salander sent the mail, and hires her as a research assistant. Together, Blomkvist and Salander connect all but one of the names on Harriet's list to murdered women. They are all Jewish names, which intrigues Blomkvist, as the Vanger family has a long history of antisemitism. During the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander become lovers.

They suspect Henrik's reclusive brother Harald (Gösta Bredefeldt) to be the murderer, as the two other Vanger brothers had already died by the time Harriet disappeared. Salander searches through Vanger's business records to trace Harald to the crime scenes, while Blomkvist breaks into Harald's house, believing it to be unoccupied. When Harald attacks Blomkvist, Martin appears and saves him. He escorts Blomkvist to his home, where Blomkvist reveals what he and Salander have uncovered. Martin drugs him. In the meantime, Salander's search of the company accounts points to Martin and his late father, Gottfried, having been jointly responsible for the murders. She returns to the cottage to find Blomkvist missing.

Blomkvist wakes to find himself bound in Martin's cellar. Martin brags about raping and murdering women for decades, but denies killing Harriet, insisting that she disappeared. As Martin is in the process of hanging Blomkvist, Salander appears and attacks Martin with a golf club. While she frees Blomkvist, Martin flees in his car. Salander gives chase on her motorcycle. Martin drives his car off the road and Salander finds him trapped in the wreckage but still alive. The car goes up in flames, and she does nothing to save him.

Blomkvist realises that Cecilia's late sister Anita was the near-double of Harriet, and that some of the film taken on the day of Harriet's disappearance show Anita, not Harriet as previously thought. Blomkvist and Salander discover that Harriet (Ewa Fröling) has been using Anita's name, and is still alive in Australia. Blomkvist flies there to look for her, and persuades her to return to Sweden, where she is reunited with her uncle. Harriet explains the truth about her disappearance: that her father and her brother had repeatedly raped her; that she killed her father by drowning him only to find herself being blackmailed by Martin; and that her cousin Anita had smuggled her away from the island.

Salander's mother, living in a nursing home, apologises for not choosing a "better papa" for her.

Salander visits Blomkvist in prison and gives him new information on the Wennerström case. After his release Blomkvist publishes a new story on Wennerström in Millennium, which ruins Wennerström and makes the magazine a national sensation. Wennerström is soon found dead. His offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands is raided; the police suspect a young woman caught on CCTV, whom Blomkvist recognises as Salander in disguise. The film ends with Salander, dressed very smartly as she exits her car, walking along a sunny beach promenade.


Critical response

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was well received by critics. Review aggregation website [3] Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 76% based on reviews from 36 critics.[4] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars, noting that "[the film] is a compelling thriller to begin with, but it adds the rare quality of having a heroine more fascinating than the story".[5]

Box office

The film grossed more than $10 million in North America in a limited release of 202 theatres.[2] The total gross worldwide is $104,617,430.[2][6]

Awards and nominations

Association Category Nominee Result
Amanda Award Best Foreign Feature Film Niels Arden Oplev Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Leading Role Noomi Rapace Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg Nominated
Best Film Not in the English Language Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Noomi Rapace Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film Niels Arden Oplev Won
Empire Awards Best Thriller Won
Best Actress Noomi Rapace Won
European Film Awards Audience Award Niels Arden Oplev Nominated
Best Actress Noomi Rapace Nominated
Best Composer Jacob Groth Nominated
Guldbagge Award Audience Award Niels Arden Oplev Won
Best Actress Noomi Rapace Won
Best Film Søren Stærmose Won
Best Cinematography Eric Kress Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Sven-Bertil Taube Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Award Best Foreign Language Film Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role Noomi Rapace Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Award Actress of the Year Noomi Rapace Nominated
New York Film Critics Online Award Breakthrough Performer Noomi Rapace Won
Palm Springs International Film Festival Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature Niels Arden Oplev Won
Satellite Award Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Noomi Rapace Won
Best Foreign Language Film Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Noomi Rapace Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award Best Foreign Language Film Nominated

TV mini-series

French premium pay television channel Canal+ aired extended versions of the three movies as a mini-series (6×90 minutes) between March and June 2010, before the theatrical release of the second and third movies. The series premiere attracted over 1.1 million viewers. Considering the network is only available in 8 million French households, the series was a substantial success.[7] The series aired on US pay-for-view cable networks in the weeks leading up to the release of David Fincher's 2011 film adaptation of the novel.

In France, the audience of the Canal+ broadcast of the first part on 22 March 2010 was 1.2 million (18% of the channel's subscribers in the country) and the largest audience of a foreign series at Canal+ that year.

A home video set of all six parts of the mini-series was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Music Box Home Entertainment on 6 December 2011.



  1. ^ "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director queries US remake".  
  2. ^ a b c d "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010)".  
  3. ^ "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)".  
  4. ^ "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".  
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (17 March 2010). "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".  
  6. ^ "Män som hatar kvinnor en internationell kassasuccé". The Swedish Film & TV Producers (in Swedish). 4 August 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  7. ^ "Millennium trilogy". 25 March 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 

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