IT is one of the great anomalies that non-English-language films can succeed all over the world — except in the U.S. (and... um, English Canada).

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/4/2010 (4302 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

IT is one of the great anomalies that non-English-language films can succeed all over the world — except in the U.S. (and... um, English Canada).

With an ingrained prejudice against dubbed or subtitled films, English audiences will only partially embrace foreign-language films. In order for a film to be truly accepted, it must be remade in English.

 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo an international blockbuster, but subtitles can be a problem for North American audiences

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo an international blockbuster, but subtitles can be a problem for North American audiences

Danish director Niels Arden Oplev faces this situation as his Swedish-language film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is being released on limited screens throughout North America.

The often grim 147-minute thriller teams an investigative reporter (Michael Nyqvist) and a brilliant bisexual computer hacker (Noomi Rapace) on the trail of a young woman who went missing in Sweden in the early '60s.

While the film was a phenomenal $100-million hit in the rest of the world, the film's American debut coincides with reports that the perfectly good movie will be remade by director David Fincher (Benjamin Button) for a 2012 release.

But Oplev, 49, is philosophical about such things.

"Of course, I would love my film to go out and do $100-million box office in America in the same way it's done in Europe," he says on the phone from New York City.

"But I'm very realistic about the film business and the film audience here. I've been back and forth between America and Denmark many times. I've lived here for a while, my wife is American and my children are dual citizens.

"If Fincher ends up doing it, I think that's cool," he says. "In the set design and in the writing, we were inspired by his film Zodiac, and tremendously inspired by Jonathan Demme's Silence of the Lambs.

"So for Fincher to do this would be a kind of a circle," he says. "But I would still say he would have to get up early in the morning to compete with my version. And I would bet a lot of money that the American version is going to be toned down and not be edgy."

 

Indeed. Oplev's film has a narrative structure that would confound American audiences. "The two main characters do not meet until 70 minutes into the film," Oplev says. "And that is unusual. That would never pass in Hollywood."

It also has a couple of tough scenes involving Rapace's heroine, who is sexually assaulted by a man who is supposed to be her legal guardian.

"It took her several days to film those scenes and they were brutal," Oplev says. "Noomi Rapace had nightmares.

"But she never complained about anything. She wanted that same degree of harsh realism that I'm looking for in the work.

"I really wanted it to be a strong, credible, realistic film which, on the one hand, has the entertaining sense of the thriller and at the same time you have the emotional intensity that you normally connect with a good drama."

Oplev says he initially turned down the film, even if the source novel sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

Once he signed on, he demanded and got, total artistic control.

"What inspired me to do the book was inside the strong suspense thriller, there is a really strong, character-driven drama," he says. "And I'm a character-driven director. I'm totally interested in motives and the will of humans and emotions and I like to realize that as far as possible.

"I believe that if I can do that and I find it interesting, then the audience will find it interesting too."

 

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo opens in Winnipeg at Silver City Polo Park Friday.

 

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

If you value coverage of Manitoba’s arts scene, help us do more.
Your contribution of $10, $25 or more will allow the Free Press to deepen our reporting on theatre, dance, music and galleries while also ensuring the broadest possible audience can access our arts journalism.
BECOME AN ARTS JOURNALISM SUPPORTER Click here to learn more about the project.

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.