So I finally got around to watching the American version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." I was hesitant to watch it after having watched the masterful Swedish trilogy. Why, I thought, should this movie be remade? It's remarkable as-is. But American movie-goers, apparently, don't like to read subtitles, so now we have the American version.
On the positive side, it's directed by David Fincher (of Fight Club fame), which means the cinematography is fantastic, and the music is great too. I don't think the movie needs to exist, but it's certainly better than most American movies. It has substance and complexity, and deals with unpleasant reality.
What struck me most, though, watching the English-version, is a theme that I've begun to notice more and more in contemporary literature and film. That is, the hero-as-researcher. The movie's two heroes, Lisbeth and Mikael, are investigators, one a journalist and the other a troubled computer genius.
In our information-saturated culture, good and evil are not obvious or black and white. In the postmodern age, the hero's strength lies not in physical prowess, but in curiosity and passion for the truth. Lisbeth and Mikael vanquish evil, not by physically fighting it, but by simply DISCOVERING it and sharing it. By uncovering the layers of lies. By reading. By spending all-nighters in library archives.
I suppose this idea of the hero-as-researcher resonates with me, as I have a passion for local history. I take great pleasure and pride in reading things nobody else has the patience or willingness to read, to sift through the lies to find the truth about the past, with all it's complexity and ugliness and occasional beauty.
I truly believe that heroes of today are not fighters. They are readers and writers.