I love reading novel series. Especially young adult and children’s series. They’re a good change of pace and easy to read before bed.
They usually have little nuggets of wisdom. If nothing else, they give you a cultural insight into what’s popular.
Recently I started the much more adult The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series.
And today I decided to stop.
Much has been made lately of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series written by Stieg Larsson. Especially with the arrival of the David Fincher directed film by the same name. Maybe you’ve seen the first set of Swedish films in your local RedBox. But most likely you’ve heard about it in some way.
I purchased the first novel on my Kindle and started reading. It was intriguing enough that I wanted to check out the film. Full disclosure: I am a HUGE David Fincher fan. The fact that he directed the movie was big draw for me. I love Se7en, Fight Club, and the rest of his work.
Now, if you’re at all familiar with Fincher, you know his work is usually dark, sinister, and extremely well done on a technical level. And I don’t mind dark if there’s some truth behind the story. Just because something is hard to watch doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it.
With all that in mind, I decided to go check out the movie. I had only read enough of the book to set up the story, and I knew the content would be dark.
But I was shocked by what I saw.
The movie features a very graphic rape scene, a subsequent revenge scene, and some very raw footage towards the end that’s torture related and very disturbing. All of this, I’ve now noticed, is featured underneath the R-rating box on the trailers and posters for the film. Maybe we should pay more attention to them.
I’ve seen movies with similar things before. Some of which served the story line, some of which didn’t. But anytime I see these kinds of things, I wonder to myself if it was necessary. Did the filmmaker really need to include that?
The real test is time. After a day or two, does that scene affect your mind about the story? Does it affect your opinion of the film? Does it make it more powerful?
In this case, it certainly made the film more powerful. So powerful I could barely sleep the first night. I couldn’t shake the horrific things I’d seen. I certainly wasn’t focused on the story.
Overall I think the dark scenery only served the style of the film; not the story.
I feel like saying Fincher should’ve deleted some of the scenes. But trying to make someone else’s art for them is not my thing. He chose to do it that way for a reason. I just wish he didn’t.
I still decided to give the second book a try. I skipped the first because it was similar enough to the movie.
But it didn’t get much better. There’s too many casual, weird sex scenes and talk of evil.
Perhaps worst is how the author uses increasingly evil scenes as build-up throughout the story. Larsson refers to the phrase “All the Evil” over and over again in The Girl Who Played With Fire. It’s presented in a way that makes you really want to know what it is. If it was more evil than what I already read, I don’t want to know what it is.
Bottom line is I just didn’t like where it took my mind.
That’s when I decided to put it down.
Or in 2012 terms, turn off the Kindle.
Entertainment is tricky. How do we know what’s OK to watch? I emailed my pastor a few years back to ask what the Bible says about this. You can read his full reply to my question here.
What I really took away from his response was that it’s really about me. It’s about how I react to the art, the book, or the movie.
Does it cause me to have sinful thoughts?
Does it open the door to a sin pattern I struggle with?
These are questions I now ask myself before watching or reading something. They’ve helped me make much better decisions about how I choose to spend my time.
What do you think?
Did I misinterpret the story? Should I have kept reading?