Elaboration on Why the Swedish Film Depicted Salander as more "Damsel in Distress" then Hero
Swedish version shows Lisbeth in a “damsel in distress” state. Wholeheartedly disagree.
There are many reasons why I stated that the Swedish version dropped the ball on Salander. OBVIOUS, I can’t go into this without tuns of plot spoiler so look away if you must.
The first is Noomi’s portrayal of Salander. Don’t get me wrong, Noomi is a fantastic actress and (in my opinion at least) gave the better performance. Noomi will be remembered as the face of Salander, but not as her embodiment. Noomi makes Salander a bit too soft spoken, despite how blunt she can be. We see a lot of fear in her body language. Yes, the character is full of fear but this fear is repressed. Noomi depicts a woman who has all these things bubbling beneath the surface, Rooney depicts a character that is repressing her fear and sheildig herself with anger.
The second is the relationship between Blomqvist and Salander. In the Swedish film, she is like a lost child to his father-like figure. How they interact on screen did not show two equals. Blomqvist towers over Salander. One of the best scenes in the Swedish film to depict this is when Salander falls asleep in Blomqvists care while he is driving. This scene was done specifically to show Salander in a child like state, to up play the ‘lost child’ motif while Blomqvist drivers the car.
A good example is just how the two relate to their jobs. In Noomi’s, she works at the office. As far as we know, she shows up everyday. In Rooney’s, she is a rogue. She works for the company when she feels like it and takes company equipment when she feels like it.
In the remake, Salander is always in control. We don’t see a good job of what that control does to her or any backlashes but she is unmistakably in control. She is in control when Blomqvist comes knocking at her door, she is in control of their relationship, and she is in control his his career’s future at the end.
The two endings are what hammer this point out best. In the Swedish film, Salander goes on the run with the money. She is relaxing in a paradise. This “fairytale ending” goes right along with the lost child motif, the lost girl gets her happy ending. In the remake, we see Salander do all the leg work of getting the money, she buys Blomqvist a gift (about to let him into her life), when she spots Blomqvist with the editor, she throws it out. The point hammered in is that she is a loner, someone whom is not quick to trust others and with good reason. This ending is more complex.
The Swedish film creates a more interesting character but a more cliche one in the process. We want to know why Noomi’s character is so broken and lost. We care about her more because we sympathize with her. Rooney’s character is stronger, but less interesting. Much like how she is afraid to let people in, we are afraid to let her in because of just of psychotic she really is. Noomi’s portrayal is the superior one, but it is not of a strong, controlling woman. It is of a desperate woman who is just barely surviving. We can all relate to this. Rooney’s character is too smooth, too strong to be interesting. We can’t relate to someone that in control of their life because it’s unrealistic.
But the fact remains, regardless of performance, that the Swedish approach is playing off the lost child cliche. It may make her character more interesting, but in the process she becomes a damsel in distress.