One of this Millenniums biggest literary hits is the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. The trilogy is made up of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. I read them all when they came out and soaked up the twisty-turny world of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. I LOVED them. I used to be a subscriber to Empire Magazine too and when the film came out (the original Swedish one) they raved and raved about it. I waited til I read the rest of the books then saw the films. I really enjoyed all three but have to say the first film, and first book, is the best. But which is better? The book or film?
As I've stated constantly on previous Friday Adaptations, film versions are 99% going to cut stuff out of the book. The whole start of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has been cut from the film and is just about mentioned at the start; Why is Mikael going to prison? It's a wise move from the film makers as it adds practically nothing to the story, just a bit of character building to see why Mikael is ultra cautious in the story later on. (Basically, he fell for a duff witness). If this were filmed this would have taken 15 minutes of screen time for little gain. Another thing left on the floor at the screen writers is the open relationship of Mikael and his business partner Erika Berger. Although it comes to light in the next films, it's not even touched on in the Dragon Tattoo (I don't think). Again, wise move. To the story they want to tell on screen, it's not needed.
What Larsson does well, with his major protagonists anyway, is really give them not just a detailed make-up, but he really fleshes them out and tells you exactly why they are like they are. The lesser characters not as much (especially some of Harriet Vanger's Aunties and Uncles, I had to reread parts to get who was who!). On screen Lisbeth shines. Noomi Rapace who plays her is simply brilliant. Curt, cold, direct and angry, she IS Lisbeth. Blomkvist is also cast well but its Rapace that steals the show. The appalling rape scene in the book is brought to life so authentically it's actually sickening. It's a brilliant film and a brilliant book.
The following books and films are also great but it's the added whodunit of Dragon Tattoo that elevates it higher than its follow ups.
The critics and public seem to agree with me too with both giving it 86% and 85% respectively on Rottentomatoes.com . Hollywood remade it just a year or two later with David 'Fight-club' Fincher in the directors chair and they made a good job of it too, but there was no way Noomi Rapace's performance would have been beaten. The American actress Roony Mara did a great job though.
I'd definitely recommend the trilogy as a whole. Have a look on our site for copies of the trilogy (p&p £1)