Last night I saw The Girl Who Played with Fire (or Flickan som lekte med elden, if you prefer) and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the film was better than the book.
Accepted wisdom says that it’s usually the other way around; the chief exception being movie tie-ins (for a sterling example, see the paperback adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Francis Ford Coppola film, a book-of-the-movie-of-the-book, or a thing that shouldn’t exist). But that just proves the rule of whichever came first is better.
Not in this case. Apart from it taking up much less of my life than the 600-odd page novel, I enjoyed the movie much more. Here are five legitimate reasons why you should too:
- In a movie, you’re generally not inside the characters’ heads, subjected to every little thought they have. In this case, that means you don’t have to hear about all their mental peccadilloes, like Blomkvist’s frustration that no one understands his multiple simultaneous love affairs, or Ronald Niedermann’s unfortunate fear of the dark, or Lisbeth Salander solving Fermat’s Last Theorem the proper way (oh yeah, spoiler alert).
- You also don’t have to worry about all the dead-end sub-plots that don’t fit into a 2 hour movie – like the inept police investigation, which follows every red herring in an effort to prove Stieg Larsson’s point that men who hate women are bad.
- By leaving out those sub-plots, you also don’t have to remember all kinds of near-identical Swedish names (don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely names – sorry, löveljë nämenens).
- Similarly, all the locations actually look like interesting places rather than just names from an Ikea catalogue, and all the people have real, distinct identities, instead of the generic Scandinavian faces of my imagination (okay, maybe that’s my lack of effort).
- You learn that Paolo Roberto is a real person.