This 2011 film is based off of Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s novel (with the same name), and directed by David Fincher; in which “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is categorised as a Swedish-American thriller-drama starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.
Daniel Craig is a journalist who is investigating what happened to a woman who disappeared 40 years ago, to help him, is a computer hacker (Rooney Mara); they work together only to unexpectedly find out they are dealing with extreme corruption.
Above is the opening title credits for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”:
Which before the name of the film is introduced to the audience, there is a series of shots that are interrupted by several jump cuts, meaning that the audience are only given brief glimpses where all that can be seen onscreen is flashes of light being blocked by a black screen. This metaphorically presents the idea of evilness overpowering the force of good, from the very start of the credits; as a result the audience can associate this to the thriller genre due to there usually being a battle between the protagonist and antagonist.
Whilst this occurs, loud heavy rock metal music is played with sounds of upbeat drums and guitars; suggestive of the film having a dark element to it meaning that the film fits into the neo-nior genre. But also because of the darkness presented through the constant use of low key lighting reinforces this sub-genre.
So when there’s a cut displaying a shot of a dragon with black liquid running across it, to the grey typography on a black background, the audience are left asking questions as the two dark colours are quite hard to distinguish between. This means that it’s difficult to see clearly the name of the film, so when the dark liquid as seen before, comes to fill the text, once again the audience are left unsure on what to expect as the text is slowly being engulfed in this unknown liquid.
The audience are briefly shown someone struggling under water with a rope tied across their mouth, the audience want to find out more but can’t because of the sudden cut that reveals a keyboard with little information and then another cut occurs, following a close up shot of the person’s face, still struggling under the liquid. This time the audience can see that the person has a collar round their neck and are being gagged, in which they can’t escape, expressing the themes of entrapment and confinement. Overall, this gives the impression that they are being tortured and the film will contain violent scenes.
A jump cut reveals the same keyboard, with the liquid filling in between the gaps of the keys, to the next shot of the keyboard in a different position making the audience follow the liquid leading onto the many more cuts displaying the dark liquid flowing. Which the final one is significant because the shot conveys a woman bleeding from her mouth, through an extreme close up shot; it’s important to note that the black metallic colour used is effective in portraying suffering, as it gives a mysterious look to the opening sequence rather than just using red blood as this is expected. Therefore, at first the audience question what it is, but soon realise after piecing all the information together, (someone being tortured evident through the use of mise-en-scene).
Then at 0:45 the tempo of music changes, when the shot of a fireball rotates looking as if it’s being thrown at the camera almost an attack on the audience, as it transitions to becoming more fast pace and has a rock edge to it. As a result, the audience feel like whoever the antagonist is that is torturing this person, is after them as well, so it heightens the audience’s interest and excitement to the sequence.
Next, there’s what appears to be a battle between objects and humans as wires/cables are attacking a person who is desperately trying to escape but can’t because they are under constant attack. Furthermore, the audience can infer that the film has an aspect of sci-fi as the idea of technology having supernatural powers is being expressed.
After, the long shot reveals the fireball falling down from the top of the screen to the bottom, which the audience can connote that fire signifies danger, so the audience then assume something terrible is going to happen. Soon demonstrated with the birds eye view shot of two people finally being able to separate from the mysterious liquid, to a sudden cut that takes the audience back to the fireball, although this time it’s a medium close up shot, indicating that the fire and metaphorically danger is getting closer to these characters. Furthermore, making the audience feel even more tense to find out what is going to happen them and when will it occur.
So when the cut then reveals the fire dropping onto the person’s eye, the audience almost look away in pure shock because it’s quite graphic and disturbing, something the audience wouldn’t expect to see; hinting at the fact that the film may have a gruesome aspect to it as well as. Which the jump cut to an extreme close up shot of the fire, emphasises how the eye has been engulfed in the flame, metaphorically representing the idea of the person being exposed to danger. Also, the audience pick up on the contrast between the darkness of the background with the brightness of the orange flame, that’s presented through the extreme close up shot; once again reinforcing and intensifying the theme of danger.
In the music, the key word ‘scream’ signals the following shot of a person screaming in pain and then a combination of repeated jump cuts with shots of fire then the dark figure. This is significant because the tempo of the music increases resulting the audience’s emotions intensifying with anticipation and excitement.
But then the audience are given very brief glimpses of a skeleton that signifies death and the fire that surrounds the skeleton signifies danger, all of which are negative connotations, reinforcing the idea of the “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” explores the theme of violence. Which is common to thriller films as evident in the opening credits of “Skyfall” where red imagery is used to convey death and danger.
The music decreases in volume, almost reaching silence resulting in the audience feeling rather apprehensive in not knowing what’s to come, whilst strengthening their attention to the sequence.
Then the music repeats the same drums and guitar soundtrack as used at the start of the opening credits; creating quite a repetitive structure that the audience can connect to it meaning that the narrative will frequently contain these themes and ideas of death/danger throughout the film.
At 1:31, the close up shot exhibits hands being dragged under water to indicate a position of vulnerability where the enemy can’t be defeated; so setting up the audience’s expectation of the film not having a happy ending. Or it can alternatively be viewed that once in the antagonist’s hands you can’t escape.
Which the cut to the extreme close up shot of an eye, portrays how much pain and suffering this person has endured because the audience have nowhere else but to look into the pure distress shown in their eye. Therefore, the audience are seeing destruction like when a large fist punches and shatters into a thousand tiny pieces.
Next, the repeated cuts reveal a close up shot of a young child flickering onscreen, when they break the forth wall it creates tension because it took a while for the head to tilt upwards to finally show the face to the audience. But because it’s a child, which children usually symbolise innocence and vulnerability, it makes the audience question whether the film challenges society’s perceptions of people. Therefore, leaving the audience intrigued to find out more about “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”.
The theme of humans against nature is explored through the editing technique of cross cutting where the narrative of a flower blooming is linked with the narrative of hands covering a face. This gives the impression to the audience that the flower growing connotes life and birth, whereas the juxtaposing shot of hands strangling/killing someone is denoting the theme of death; therefore, indicating an example of binary opposition of life and death.
Moreover, the idea of torture runs throughout where the shots display a person tied up screaming in agony, whilst trying to escape from the liquid they are trapped in. So as the first shot shows a side view of the person, the jump cut switches the point of view to the person facing directly towards the camera whilst screaming. This way it grabs and entices the audience’s attention to the opening credits; which also adds emphasis on the credit David Fincher who has directed several successful thriller films.
But the music continues to play even after the camera zooms into the mouth which reveals the black screen, to slowly fading out from the loud crashing sounds. This makes the audience feel as if something is yet to come, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats waiting in pure excitement towards the rest of the film. Overall, I find this a good method of keeping the audience’s feelings of anticipation through the use of a blank screen with the music slowly fading out, because previously the sequence had fast paced editing, creating a sense of panic and energy, and this does not end, setting the audience up for the rest of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”.