The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: worth it?

Guest post by Anna Wynveen

Bort (a.k.a) Anna Wynveen fills her free hours playing synthesizer with Kill City Kids and Lamontasaurus, and shouting to the wind at


I sat down to write a quick review of the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I soon realized that, not only is a quick review impossible, but I’m definitely not qualified to handle a discussion about this movie.

The story centres around Lisbeth Salander, a bisexual goth-geek private investigator.  She is hired by an excommunicated reporter to help solve the case of a missing woman.  Lisbeth is the victim of abuse (a long painful history is implied but not shared with the audience), and the film contains a graphic scene of her being raped by her social worker.  Did I say graphic?  I meant GRAPHIC.  It was definitely not an overtly sexy, Eminem-Rihanna depiction of violence against women.  But is it ever possible to portray sexual violence without it being sexualized?  And is this just the latest in a line of stories, written by men, which aim to titillate viewers with graphic depictions of men raping and murdering women?

Ugh.  I just don’t know.  But I would caution anyone who is sensitive to graphic depictions of violence to avoid this movie.

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16 Comments on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: worth it?”

  • The book should detail her history more … i downloaded the movie but haven’t checked it out yet …

  • I would recommend viewing the original before the American remake. As always, the original is better… :)

    “But is it ever possible to portray sexual violence without it being sexualized?”

    It seems to me like the answer is in the question, isn’t it?

  • I definitely don’t want to watch anything with a rape scene. There’s enough rape in this world, why the fuck would I want to watch it?

  • “Bisexual goth-geek private investigator” also a hacker with a troubled past involving drugs and sexual violence? I haven’t seen / read it but I can only assume Stieg Larsson was spending a lot of time with L&O: SVU and TV Tropes when he cobbled together that hodgepodge of “wounded cool girl”.

  • Bort

    @P. Rhoeas (and everyone else)

    More on Law and Order: SVU in this awesome post by Natalie Hill. She goes into greater detail about our consuption of violence (specifically sexual violence) as entertainment.

  • Teresa

    Before y’all wind yourself up, gleefully blasting a dead-man for his writing, or creating a false impression of the movies as rape-porn, you might consider doing even a modicum of research, or reading the books.

    Steig Larsson, he of the L&O: SVU, and TV Tropes, was a Swedish journalist with a social justice bent, writing about topics such as extremism and honour killings. His wildly popular books, which will end up as two sets of movies, deal with themes of misogyny, human trafficking for sex work, and other topics which may be of interest to more open-minded readers of this blog.

    You might also be interested to know that “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is the English re-interpretation of the original Swedish title: “Men Who Hate Women”. Larsson might not have viewed himself a feminist or ally, per se, but the “wounded cool girl” P Rhoeas so blithely condemns is more a product of Hollywood than of the author.

  • @Teresa: I appreciate knowing that the Swedish title was Men Who Hate Women, but I still don’t want to watch rape on the big screen. This does not mean I’m “wound up”.

  • Christina


    I’ve read the books and know a bit about Stieg Larsson. I think the comments above still hold. Lisbeth Salander is a bisexual goth-geek private investigator hell bent on exacting revenge for her rape (which is described in nauseating detail) in the book too.

    The fact that Larsson is dead, the topics of his journalism or the original title of his book do not make its subject matter any less problematic.

  • Elizabeth

    When I saw the rape scene in the film, I thought I was going to have a panic attack. It is insanely graphic. Afterwords, my brain exploded with questions that I had heard in my Gender Studies classes. Is there any good reason to show rape scenes in film/on TV? Does it educate? Does it just reinforce what each person already believes (nobody-deserves-this-ever vs. she-was-asking-for-it)? Is the film making voyeurs out of the audience, or were they that already? Tricky, tricky. I felt sick watching it. I remain unconvinced that films need rape scenes as a way to portray a victim of sexual violence.

    • I dunno, does porn educate? Does porn make voyeurs out of the audience? These just seem like silly questions to me.

  • Haven’t seen the movie. Read the books and they are excellent. Rape scene? There’s a vivid scene where Lisbeth gets vengence on her rapist, and if I made a movie of it I would have made a big deal out of that, but why would they ….
    Oh, I’m so naive.

  • Have you seen the rape scene in Irreversible? It’s very violent and pornographic. Hard to think of any other reason why it would be there but titillation.

  • wyng

    Having seen the Swedish film version of the books, I’ll say the Hollywood version is much more sexualized and romanticized. This goes for the rape scenes, the relationship between Lisbeth and Mikael, and even their very characterization from their physique to their demeanor. So for anyone interested in the story, please watch the original version first so you can hate the Hollywood version properly. ;)

  • Amaranth

    I watched the original film up until shortly after the rape revenge scene. I couldn’t finish it.

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