Todd’s Review of The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Edited by Robin Rosenberg, Ph.D. and Shannon O’Neill

If you’re like me, then the thought of psychological analysis makes you a little confused.  It’s not that I don’t understand the basic tenants of psychology (I did fairly well in psych 101 in college!), but the finer points of psychoanalysis make me glad that I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist.  I’m used to hard data, such as percent oxygen, protein yields, and absorbance values.  To observe one’s character and make a complete analysis just based on personality traits or familial history alone is pretty cool.  I just have no idea how it’s done.  Hence, my decision to tackle this interesting field segued well into reading The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Edited by Robin Rosenberg (also a contributor) and Shannon O’Neill, The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo compiles the analyses of many experts on the subjects of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, and various other subjects to study the inner workings of the characters within Steig Larsson’s amazing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (You can read my joint reviews with Kim on Larsson’s books here, here, and here)  Chiefly, this focus on Lisbeth Salander, the main protagonist of the work, is a huge psychoanalytical undertaking.  Due to her troubled past and history of clashes with a society that attempts to subdue her, Lisbeth has trouble finding herself and finding peace.  The expert analysis begins with Lisbeth’s exterior, examining first why people alter their appearance, whether it be through dress, tattoos, piercings, or other modifications.  Then, the authors focused on Lisbeth, examining why her appearance is radically different than most “normal” individuals, encompassing images that are aimed at provoking others rather than trying to fit in.  After exploring Lisbeth’s appearance, the essays delve deeper into her personality, examining her past and focusing on those around her, both good and bad.  A good deal of work is put into analyzing the relationships that Lisbeth creates with those around her, especially Bloomkvist.  Finally, the work ends on a more positive note, outlining Salander’s achievements, and examining her as a sort of superhero.

Through reading this book I’ve found that there are a series of these works dedicated to analyzing the “psychology of … (insert popular book title here)”.  Although I think it’s an interesting idea, out of all the titles available I feel that this one has the most merit.  The subject material is ripe for psychoanalysis; just judging by appearance alone one can tell that Salander is different, and the types of people she has dealt with in her life are just as psychologically damaged and complex as she is.  A whole book could have been written for each major character, but I’m glad that the editors put most of the focus on Lisbeth, and after reading this work I definitely saw her in a new light.  I never considered her to be an exceptionally strong character (at least in the first book), and I viewed her more as a loaner who finally lets someone (Bloomkvist) in to her personal life.  However, after reading this book and finally elucidating the parts of Lisbeth’s childhood that made her the person she is in the first novel, it’s plain to see that she is an amazingly strong and resilient character who is several times smarter than the average individual.  I definitely have a new respect for her character, and in addition a new respect for Larsson’s work, in that he could create such an innovative and amazingly complex story that integrates all of these multi-layered characters.  In all, it’s definitely an educational read that would benefit those who are having a hard time understanding the motives behind the characters in the Millenium Trilogy.  Definitely give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo edited by Robin Rosenburg, Ph.D. and Shannon O’Neill
Smart Pop (2011)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN: 1936661349

Special thanks to Smart Pop books for my review copy!

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Interested in a dark tale of murder and mystery?  If so, look no further than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher and staring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara (yummy) as Lisbeth Salander. This is the second film to be adapted from The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, but the first to be done in English.  Larsson’s work has already been adapted to the screen in Swedish, his native language and the original publication language.

In a nutshell, the film follows a man’s mission to find out what has happened to his niece, who has been missing for 36 years and is feared to have been murdered. The man is Henrik Vanger, the patriarch and longtime CEO of The Vanger Corporation, a Swedish conglomerate that has a large presence in the country.  His niece, Harriet, went missing on a small island that many of the Vanger family members owned homes on. Due to jealousy, money, and evil that permeate the Vanger family, Henrik has very little doubt that Harriet’s killer is still alive, and he thinks a family member is to blame.  It is up to Mikael Blomkvist, who has been hired by Henrik to investigate the cold case, to reexamine the evidence and breathe new life into the disappearance that occurred so many years ago.  Unfortunately for Mikael, however, there are those who do not want the past dragged to the surface again, and this puts him in mortal danger.  Can he escape with his life?

Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy, upon which the film is based, has become one of the most popular series in the world of literature in quite some time. The Swedish film adaptations have even helped to launch the American career of Noomi Rapace (who I want to tap). But despite all this the most amazing thing about this series is that all the books were published after Stieg Larsson passed away.  He never even got the chance to see what a phenomenon his work has become!

Some were a little upset about the news of American remakes, especially since they happened so soon, but I’m happy about it. I am a fan of foreign film, but this remake is going to allow a broader audience to enjoy these intense stories. Very serious subject matter (both sexual and violent) is portrayed in the film, which may make audiences a little uneasy. However, in order to stay true to the original work it was something that needed to be done.

David Fincher was the perfect person to bring this story to life on the American big screen, and it may be one of his best works to date. I really love the look and feel of his films, and this is a great follow-up to The Social Network. Daniel Craig is good as usual, and he gives us a performance that isn’t exactly what we are used to from him. However on the other hand, the sexy Rooney Mara’s transformation into Lisbeth is what everyone is buzzing about! This is clearly a career role for her, in which she beat out many other Hollywood superstars for the role including Scarlett Johansson, who was the studio favorite. David Fincher fought for Rooney, who he just used in a minor role in The Social Network. All I have to say is she better be eternally grateful for his clout with the studio because he just made her a very in demand actress.

I will leave you with this: I highly suggest you check this film out if you are a fan of the books, want to see an entertaining piece of work, or want to know what all the fuss is about since you are too lazy to read. The film is very long, clocking in at almost 3 hours, so be aware and plan accordingly. Additionally, like I said earlier, the story deals with numerous MATURE story lines that may be hard for some people to see depicted on-screen, so consider yourselves warned.

PS…Word on the Street is both the films sequels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, will be filmed back to back, so be ready!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2010)
Columbia Pictures
R, 158 Minutes
Kim and Todd have reviewed all three books this year.  Their reviews are: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

#91 A Review of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium Trilogy Series #3)Kim and Todd here, back with another joint review for the third and final installment of The Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson.  Once again we were able to listen to this work in audiobook format, with the impeccable Simon Vance as narrator.  As good as the last two books were, both of us were eager to jump in and see how this epic storyline played out, especially since the US film version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is due out in theaters tomorrow!

Opening on the heels of the second book in the trilogy, we follow Lisbeth as she is airlifted to the hospital after surviving a brutal attack at the hands of her father and half-brother that left her buried alive with a gunshot wound.  Ironically, her father is two rooms away from her own hospital room, recovering from an axe wound inflicted by Salander.  What follows is a tale of murder, attempted cover ups, and the quest to tell the truth, no matter the cost.  Salander and Blomkvist again find themselves facing the threat of death as they attempt to clear their names once and for all.

Todd:  As the axiom goes, save the best for last.  I definitely think that Larsson did this for the trilogy, as he ties multiple story lines together that have arced over the entire thing and brought them to a more than satisfactory conclusion.  I can’t think of a better or more shocking literary ending than the courtroom finale that Giannini presents to the judge in Salander’s hearing.  I think this made the book for me.  I truly felt that Salander had never deserved any of the mistreatment in her life, and to see her vindicated at the end was awesome and fantastic.

Kim:  I definitely agree that the court hearing is what does it for this novel.  Listening to the audio had me literally on the edge of my seat, as I couldn’t skip forward and cheat to see a few pages ahead!  I had to stay listening in real-time, which killed me.  I will say that the very ending of the novel was slightly dissatisfactory, but upon doing more research I found that when Larsson died, he left behind a fourth manuscript.  This lead me to believe that this novel was actually just setting up another novel.

Todd:  It’s too bad that Larsson didn’t live to see the completion of that fourth novel, or for that matter the widespread success of his work as a whole.  Part of me thinks that he really wouldn’t have been affected by it, as evidenced in his attitude in his novels: he seemed to always want to look out for those who can’t help themselves, and wasn’t much for any kind of self-serving recognition.  This is what I think makes this novel in particular shine.  I can just tell that he wanted to make Salander’s justice a warning to all individuals who harm women; that what they’re doing won’t go unnoticed, and that every one who participates in these sadistic acts will eventually receive their just punishment.

Kim:  Another thing that I think makes these novels so awesome is how un-extraordinary the hero and heroine are.  Blomkvist is just an ordinary guy that uses the skills he has to do good in the world.  He’s a reporter that has a knack for finding out the truth, and wants to see those who benefit from doing the wrong things tried and arrested for their crimes.  Salander, on the other hand, is a woman who has just been beat down her whole life, and has continually found a way, using her own intelligence and quick thinking, to punish them.  She reminds me of a computer hacking vigilante.  She uses technology as far as she can, and then by blunt force makes sure her message is understood.  As an aside Simon Vance is the best audio narrator ever!  I want to listen to everything he’s ever narrated!

Todd:  I definitely agree with you on Mr. Vance there, I would totally want him to be the voice on my answering machine, how cool would that be?  Anyway, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a fantastic ending to an indescribable series.  If you haven’t already, pick this one up to close out what you already know to be a fantastic storyline that keeps getting better with every read.

Kim: 5 out of 5 Stars

Todd: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is my twenty-first completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

Random House Audio Publishing (2010)
CD: 20hrs 30min
ISBN:  9780739384190