Are movies based on books ever better than the books themselves? Some people claim that books are always better than movies. Let’s look at a case from Swedish noir: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (aka, the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy).
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, English translation January 2008.
- The Girl Who Played with Fire, English translation January 2009.
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, English translation October 2009.
The books were a huge sensation. No debate there. However, the movies are far better (the three versions shot in Sweden). They have depth and complexity. As critics like to say, they live and breathe. You see the inhumanity. You feel Lizbeth Salander’s anger and disgust. And when you read the books? You don’t. The English translations suffer from stilted prose. The plots seem plodding and mundane. Relatively speaking, the books are dead wood.
Perhaps I can blame the book translations from Swedish to English? Perhaps. Unfortunately, I can’t read Swedish, so I can’t say. However, I can say that I’d watch the movies again. I will never read the English translations again. Movies: Three. Books: Zero. A lopsided win. And a shutout, as we Canucks say.
(PS: In my opinion, the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy is an exception. Books usually win. Hey, I’m in the writers’ union.)