Devoted book lovers always rank books above movies. But are movies ever better than the books they’re based on? Consider 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 sensation. No debate there. However, the movies were 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 dark side of Swedish life. You feel Lizbeth Salander’s anger and disgust. And when you read the books? You don’t.
The English translations feel plodding and mundane. Relatively speaking, the books are dead wood. I’ll never read them again. However, I will watch the movies again. Movies: Three. Books: Zero. A lopsided win. And a shutout, as we Canucks say.
PS: IMHO, the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy is an exception. Books usually win. 😉