The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can be found here.

Millenium magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), retired CEO of Vanger Industries, to write his memoirs but who really wants Mikael to investigate the murder of his grandniece Harriet who disappeared some 40 years ago. With the help of an antisocial, punk computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a young woman with a dragon tattoo on her back, a checkered childhood and an abusive court-appointed guardian named Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), the pair uncover a series of gruesome murders that eventually puts their own lives in danger.

Yes. The movie is an English-language remake of Män som hatar kvinnor (2009) (Men Who Hate Women) (published in English as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) (2005), a crime novel by the Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson [1954-2004]. It is the first of his Millenium Trilogy, followed by The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2007). The screenplay for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was written by American screenwriter Steven Zaillian. The English version of The Girl Who Played with Fire, based on Larsson's second novel, is currently in development, as is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, based on Larsson's third novel, but no release date has been set for either.

Hedestad (Hede City) and Hedeby (Hede Village) Island are both fictitious places, invented for Larsson's novel. They are described as being along the east coast of Sweden, about three hours north of Stockholm, a little more than an hour north of Gvle. The original novel (in Swedish) featured maps of Hedeby Island, but they were left out of the English translations. Other places mentioned in the movie, such as Stockholm, Gteborg, Skelleftea, Kalmar, Uppsala, Norsj, and Karlstad, can be located on the following map.

There are a lot of Vangers to keep track of in the movie; even more in the novel. In this movie, there are three Vanger brothers: Henrik, Ricard (deceased), and Harald (Per Myrberg). Henrik is a widower with no children. Ricard had one son, Gottfried (deceased). Gottfried was married to Isabella and their children are Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård) (current CEO of Vanger Industries) and Harriet Vanger (missing since 1966, presumed dead). Cecilia (Geraldine James) and Anita (Joely Richardson) and Birger are the children of Harald.

Henrik Vanger commissioned Milton Security to do a comprehensive investigation into Mikael's background, because he wanted to hire Mikael to investigate the disappearance and probable murder of his grandniece Harriet. Being the best researcher employed by Milton, Lisbeth was assigned to the job.

It's not really brought out until the end of the movie when Mikael asks how a 23-year old can be a ward of the state. Lisbeth tells Mikael that she was declared mentally incompetent at age 12 after she tried to burn her father to death. Further details of that incident will be provided in The Girl Who Played with Fire.

10,000 Swedish krona is worth about $1,500 US dollars, 950 British sterling, and 1,160 euros.

Email accounts get hacked every day. It is relatively easy for someone who makes it their profesion to do so as in identity hackers. Hacking an email account is even easier when the account is only protected by a weak password as in all numbers, letters, or simple words. Most people would not notice that their account was hacked until some private information turned up elsewhere. The problem for the hacker would be in covering their tracks if the hack was revealed. The characters in the film either did not know their email accounts were hacked or could not go to the authorities considering the sensitivity of their respective predicaments. Hacking email accounts is a huge problem for everyone but can be diminished if everyone uses strong passwords that contain: capital and lower case letters, non-sequential numbers, no words of any kind or any language, no personal information i.e. birthdays, anniversaries. Furthermore, In the original novel, it's explained that Lisbeth doesn't actually hack the email accounts. She plants a software in the victim's computer that allows her to monitor everything that is done with the computer. It's obvious that this is what happens in the movie as well, but it's not explicitly explained.

They refer to biblical passages from the book of Leviticus. 30114 is Leviticus 1:14 'If a dove is the sinner's offering, the priest shall wring off its head, cleave its wings, and burn it upon the altar.' 32016 is Leviticus 20:16 'If a woman lies with any beast, you shall kill the woman and the beast; their blood is upon them.' 32018 is Leviticus 20:18 'If a man lies with a woman having her sickness, and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood.' 32027 is Leviticus 20:27 'A woman who is a medium or a sorceress shall be put to death by stoning.' 32109 is Leviticus 21:09 'The daughter of a priest who profanes herself by playing the harlot, profanes her father and shall be burned with fire.'

How does the movie end?

With Martin dead, Mikael is able to convince Harriet to return to Hedeby in order to reunite with Henrik. Henrik provides Mikael with the proof about Wennerstrm that he promised, but the information is from 35 years ago and, due to the statute of limitations, is useless to Mikael. Lisbeth offers to look into Wennerstrm's activities and discovers that he's been laundering money from drugs, arms, and crime syndicates in Russia and placing the money in accounts in the Cayman Islands. With solid proof now, Mikael writes another expos in Millenium, charging Wennerstrm with criminal activities on a global scale. The Securities Fraud office investigates Wennerstrm, and he is eventually executed gangland-style. Meanwhile, Lisbeth asks Mikael to loan her some money for an investment, promising to return it in full. Disguised in a blonde wig, Lisbeth transfers around money from Wennerstrm's multiple accounts and ends up placing over two billion Euros into accounts of her own. She then returns to Stockholm and buys an expensive leather jacket for Mikael. When she delivers it, however, she sees Mikael leaving his apartment with his arm around Erika (Robin Wright), so she tosses the jacket in a dumpster and rides off on her motorcycle.

The film stays close to the book with just a few additions and alterations. In the book Mikael Blomkvist's libel conviction includes a prison sentence. He takes a break from his research halfway through the novel to serve his sentence, then resumes the research; this is omitted from the film. In the novel, Mikael's father worked for the Vanger Corporation and stayed with his family on Hedestad with the Vangers. Harriet babysat Mikael when he was a young boy. This detail does not make it into the movie. In the book, he also develops a romantic relationship with Cecilia Vanger; this plot line does not make it into the film. The book mentions that Lisbeth's previous legal guardian Holger Palmgren has had a stroke, but it happens before the action of the book starts. She abandons him when doctors give a grim prognosis, telling her that Palmgren will likely not recover from his coma. In the film, the stroke occurs during the course of the story, and she stays in contact with him. It also shows her tracking down her new guardian, Nils Bjurman, once more after she tattoos his chest and blackmails him. She does not begin doing this in the books until the second installment, though it is an important plot point. A minor liberty taken is that in the novels it is repeatedly stated that Lisbeth likes neither clubs nor crowds and hasn't stepped foot into a nightclub in many years. In the movie, she meets up with Miriam Wu at one. Mikael also finds out to great surprise that Lisbeth is a ward of the state and that she was institutionalized for setting her father on fire during the course of the second book. In the film, both facts are revealed to him earlier on.

The biggest change is towards the end when Mikael and Lisbeth realize that Harriet Vanger fled Sweden to get away from her serial killer brother. In the book, Mikael realizes that Harriet likely ran away and, since her cousin Anita was her best friend, Anita probably knows where Harriet is. With the help of Lisbeth's hacker friends he traces a phone call from Anita's London apartment to Australia and tracks down Harriet, whom he convinces to come home and reunite with Henrik. In the film, Harriet is living in London under Anita's identity. In the book, Lisbeth repeatedly visits her brain damaged mother in a convalescent home. She is unable to join Mikael to Australia because her mother passes away. In the film, her mother is never mentioned nor featured, so she is able to accompany Mikael to London.

David Fincher has stated that he was prompted by the original story to make a movie out of the book by Stieg Larsson, and that he has never seen the Swedish movie (which was actually a mini-series). So both movies are essentially adaptations of the same source material, and the American version is therefore technically not a remake of the Swedish version. The US version is actually slightly more faithful to the book, which accounts for most of the differences between both versions (see also the changes between the book and US film). Irregardless, since both movies follow the book quite closely, there are much more similarities than discrepancies. Here are the biggest differences:

Mikael Blomkvist is sentenced to a few months prison time in the Swedish version. He serves his time after solving the Harriet Vanger case, and uses the time to build a case against Wennerstrm. In the US version, Blomkvist is only sentenced to a financial penalty, and Lisbeth already starts compiling evidence against Wennerstrm after spying on Mikael. Mikael comes to the Vanger estate under the pretense of writing a biografy of Henrik Vanger, not as an investigator. Apart from a considerable financial compensation, Henrik offers Mikael information which he can use to get Wennerstrm convicted. After Martin's death at the end, it turns out that Henrik kept files on Wennerstrm's embezzling activities during the latter's employment at Vanger's company; however, these are over 30 years old and no longer of much use to Mikael.

Mikael himself has several flashbacks to Harriet in the Swedish version; his father had worked for the Vanger company, and his family had visited the Vangers when he was a child; Harriet had once babysitted him. In the US version, Henrik Vanger saves the Millennium magazine from bankruptcy with a private funding (also to annoy Wennerstrm), much to Mikael's dismay, as he prefers to remain independant. Mikael finds a stray cat which keeps him company while staying on the Vanger estate. The cat is later found on his doorstep, decapitated and its limbs broken, apparently as a warning for Mikael to stop his investigation.

Lisbeth is beaten up by several punks, not mugged, in the Swedish version, causing her laptop to become broken. In the US version, she pays Bjurman another visit to scare him off.

In the US version, Mikael has several meetings with his daughter, who is getting into religion. It is she who identifies the numbers in Harriet's diary as being Bible quotes. In the Swedish version, Lisbeth encounters the numbers while hacking Mikael's computer; she sends him an anonymous e-mail explaining what the numbers mean. Mikael re-traces the e-mail to find Lisbeth. Later, after enlisting her help, Mikael's cottage is secretly searched by someone while they are away on investigation, prompting Lisbeth to install cameras. (Lisbeth noticed that the pictures on the wall have been slightly rearranged, as she has a photographic memory).

The final revelation differs somewhat in both movies. In the Swedish version, Henrik's brother Harald Vanger is briefly suspected to be the killer. Mikael breaks into his house, looking for evidence linking him to the killings, but Harald catches him off guard. Martin enters just in time to prevent Harald from shooting Mikael, taking him to his home. Mikael has no clue yet that Martin is the killer until Martin drugs him with a syringe, while Lisbeth finds out that the last victim was Gottfried's secretary. She identifies Martin as the killer by a distinct black and blue sweater, which he also wore on the day that he frightened Harriet in the parade. In the US version, Mikael pays Harald (who is quite friendly) a visit. Their conversation causes him to find a connection between Martin and the last victim, because Martin and the girl were attending the same school. He goes to Martin's house, armed with a knife, but Martin expects him, forcing him into his torture chamber under threat of a gun, and gasses him unconscious.

In the Swedish version, Lisbeth purposely waits for Martin's car to blow up, ignoring his calls for help (it even evokes memories of setting her father on fire). In the US version, Mikael gives Lisbeth permission to kill Martin. She causes him to get off the road and crash against a gas tank, which explodes without her being able to help him.

In the Swedish version, Mikael remembers that Anita and Harriet looked very similar when they were young, so the 'last confirmed picture taken of Harriet' is actually of Anita. Anita had moved to London after Harriet's disappearance, and died of cancer, whereas Harriet secretly moved to Australia', living in exile under Anita's maiden name. In the US version, Mikael doesn't realize until the end that it is Harriet actually living in London, having assumed the identity of her cousin. Anita and her husband had smuggled Harriet out to England, but they died in a car accident later, allowing Harriet to remain in England under her cousin's maiden name.

Mikael and Lisbeth have a sexual relationship in both versions. In the Swedish version, Lisbeth makes it clear that sex is the only thing she wants from him, despite Mikael's affections. After Martin's death, Lisbeth departs, leaving a note for Mikael with a clue that Harriet is hiding in Australia. Lisbeth gives Mikael a last visit when he is in jail serving his sentence, where she gives him all the information to get Wennerstrm convicted. In the US version, Lisbeth stays with Michael until he has traced Harriet. She seems to warm up to Mikael, but she is disillusioned to find that Mikael finally chooses to be with his boss Erika.

'Great Bird of Prey' by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. The complete list of songs can be found here with their corresponding scene descriptions.

It's a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, with Karen O providing vocals. The second trailer used 'An Itch', also by Reznor and Ross.

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