Tuesday, September 27, 2011

salander hope and glory

I've now seen a couple of trailers for the English-language version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and, well, it looks like it might be pretty good. David Fincher has a track record of interesting stuff, the cast is certainly suitably stellar, and Rooney Mara has undergone a pretty dramatic Lisbethification process by undergoing an eye-watering selection of piercings and a disastrous haircut. In fact I'd say, solely on the basis of appearances, that she's closer to Lisbeth Salander as written than Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish adaptations, as she's more frighteningly skinny and intimidating-looking. By contrast I think Michael Nyqvist is probably closer to Mikael Blomkvist as written, Daniel Craig being a bit clenched and buff for the role - despite being a thinly-disguised authorial alter ego, and therefore irresistible to women, Blomkvist is meant to be a bit rumpled and out of condition.

Now there is a school of thought that says that it's axiomatic that the Swedish adaptation is better, what with it being Swedish and all. I view this as being an aspect of the same kind of Scando-fetishism that unquestioningly rates things like Let The Right One In and Wallander as better than, say, UK or US vampire films and detective dramas just because of the exotic setting - and the sneaking suspicion we Brits have that the Scandinavians are all having a constant akvavit-fuelled sauna-based sex orgy while we're doing it with the lights off and our socks on.

There may be a language snobbery element to it as well - the original film being somehow more authentic because it's in the original Swedish, acted by Swedish actors. Well, the trouble with that (apart from the inherent difficulties with subtitled movies) is that it's a ridiculous double standard - am I to be pilloried because I didn't read the novel in the original Swedish? Because, I didn't, I read it in English.

This raises another vexed question, though, the question of accents. Here is an English-language film set in Sweden, featuring people who are meant to be Swedish. So should they speak with Swedish accents? That way lies the danger of ending up sounding like the Swedish chef on the Muppet Show. On the evidence of the trailer, Rooney Mara is sporting a bit of a Swedish accent, and Stellan SkarsgÄrd sounds a bit Swedish (but then of course he is Swedish), while the rest of the cast who speak any significant amount of dialogue (mainly Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer) stick with pretty bog-standard unaccented English.

All of which is fine by me - you're asking for a fair bit of suspension of disbelief just by having foreign characters converse in English, and if you go too far by having people identify their nationality solely by accent you run the risk of ending up in Allo, Allo territory, which clearly no-one wants. The only alternative is sticking rigidly to the original languages, which you can get away with if you're Quentin Tarantino, but not otherwise.

On an almost completely unrelated topic, but just while we've got the word "tattoo" in our collective head, can we all stop pronouncing French actress Audrey Tautou's surname as if it were the word "tattoo"? Read it, notice the "u" after the "a", realise it must be pronounced "toe-too", do so, move on with your life, stop annoying me. Ditto "sudoku". Japanese word, three syllables, clearly and unambiguously must be pronounced "soo-doh-koo", simples. So what's with probably more than 50% of people pronouncing it "suh-doo-koh"? I literally can't fathom whether it's some sort of mass hysteria, word blindness, laziness or just blithering stupidity, but people do it all the time. LOOK AT THE LAST LETTER! IT'S A "U"! HOW CAN IT BE PRONOUNCED LIKE AN "O"? Oh, it makes me mad.

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