Fede Alvarez insists that you don’t need to have seen David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, or the 2009 Swedish trilogy led by Noomi Rapace, to enjoy The Girl In The Spider’s Web.
However, he admitted that those familiar with the four previous adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium novels, or the books themselves, will appreciate the film’s various nods and winks to them.
“I’ve been through something similar with my first film, the ‘Evil Dead’,” Alvarez recently explained to me over the phone. “Which was a kind of remake, reboot of the first film, and everyone had different expectations of what that is supposed to be.”
“I had encountered that world already, where you are thinking of that while trying to make your own version of it. The big thing here is, and the way that the film is built, if you haven’t seen the films or read the books you’ll have a great time.”
“There’s nothing you need to know or need to have, there’s no information or storylines that you won’t understand because you didn’t see or read anything. I think it is a great entry point for a new audience.”
“With that being said, if you have read or seen the films then you’ll have a particular pleasure in reencounter characters and nods to back stories and the little details and Easter eggs in the film that connect it to the others.”
“It is really meant for everybody and to bring a new audience to this universe.”
Alvarez also explained why they decided to do a soft reboot of the franchise with “The Girl In The Spider’s Web,” which is the fourth installment to the series.
“The fourth book is the sort of reset on the storyline. It is not a direct continuation of the third book. If I had made the second or third it would have been a direct continuation of the first story.”
“The events that occur in that book would not make sense if you haven’t seen the first one. Because it is a continuation of her story of her chapter of rape and revenge.”
“So I would have never even tried to continue something that David Fincher directed in such a great way in that first film. Particularly not with a different cast. You cannot refer to events in a previous film with a different cast and a different director.”
“I think, for me, as an audience it wouldn’t have been enjoyable at all. Because it is disconnected, and the book even has a different author, it is a fresh start and it gave me a lot more creative freedom to do the film that I wanted to do and not try to continue someone else’s work or have someone else’s cast.”
“Which is then definitely not your vision, because if you have someone else’s cast then 50% of the film is not your vision. That’s how important casting is. That’s a big part of the film, because they’re the faces that you point the camera at. I would have never made those. I would have wanted to see them if David Fincher had directed. But not made them.”
The fact that the franchise has been rebooted with “The Girl In The Spider’s Web” also gave Alvarez the chance to put Salander in the centre of the film, as the hacker was actually more of a secondary character in previous installments.
“I needed Claire Foy to have the craft to play the character in a way that hasn’t been played before,” explained Alvarez.
“I needed that because in the past the stories weren’t about Lisbeth Salander they were about Mikel Blomqvist. Salander was a secondary character really that entered the story to service his story.”
“So that’s the way it has always been done in the other movies. And even in the fourth book it is a little bit like that. Our process of adaptation was all about making Lisbeth the focus.”
“So when you do that you can’t play the character she has been played before. Because if you did then the audience would never have a way in. Because, emotionally, they wouldn’t have a way in through her mind.”
“Because Lisbeth Salander is a character that doesn’t go into exposition and tells her about her life and her backstory. She has very few lines in the movie. So you have to be faithful to the character and do that.”
“But how do you get the audience to know what is going on inside? That’s when you need an actress of the calibre of Claire. Because she had the craft to be able to play two emotions at the same time.”
“The one the character presents to you and the real one. She can play a scene very bravely and courageous, but in her eyes you’ll see how scared she is.”
“That ability is what the best actors in the world have, and only a few of them can do that. Claire is one of them, and I needed her to carry the film on her shoulders and do that to get the film to the level I wanted.”
“The Girl In The Spider’s Web” is released in cinemas on November 9.