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Analysis of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” Film


David Fincher’s film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a 2011 detective movie that discovers a scandalous journalist’s and a young hacker’s journey to reveal the truth behind a forty-year-old murder. This movie is based on the first book of Stieg Larson’s trilogy, Millennium. Although the 2011 movie was an American adaptation, the director was able “to retain the Swedish aesthetic” in his film (Mazdon, 2017, p.29). This movie’s main plot focuses on the attempt to discover the nearly-committed homicide while solving the series of other crimes. Moreover, the movie successfully demonstrates how exposure to stress and violence in childhood combined with the subsequent care and support creates a socially withdrawn yet emotionally strong human being. Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an illustration of a perfect female warrior due to the three main reasons. First, she possessed such features as independence, intelligence, strategic thinking, and courage. Second, Lisbeth was facing adversity since childhood as any classic warrior. Third, she was fortunate to meet the support from a mentor who plays a significant role in the warrior’s life.

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The Warrior Traits of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander was an intelligent, courageous, and independent young woman who portrays a perfect female warrior in this movie. According to the plot, Lisbeth experienced domestic violence during her childhood and learned to become independent since early adolescence. Although she is declared socially incompetent and is assigned with a guardian, the girl manages to remain financially independent by working as a private investigator at Milton Security company. Certainly, Salander is intelligent because she acquired incredible programming skills that made her one of the country’s best hackers. She uses these skills to conduct investigative work assigned by her employer. Lisbeth’s fearlessness helps her continue her potentially dangerous job. However, possessing these three features alone does not make her a warrior because she needs to undergo a perilous journey to transform from an asocial hacker to a true warrior.

Lisbeth Salander’s journey to becoming a warrior starts with her revenge on her new guardian who raped her and ended with her reprisal against a corrupt financier Hans-Erik Wennerström. Blomkvist’s offer to join his investigation of murder became the turning point in her story transforming from an intelligent and fearless but angry person to an iconic representative of female warriors. Although many other female characters in this movie are courageous, intelligent, and independent, Lisbeth can be distinguished with her unemotional assessment of any situation and strategic thinking of her future actions. These features became essential for her resistance against violence and injustice, which becomes her path of transformation into a warrior.

The Role of Adversity in Becoming a Warrior

Possessing such features as intelligence, courage, independence, and strategic thinking made Lisbeth a perfect criminal investigation assistant. However, childhood adversity and the hardship of her adult life destined her to become a warrior who punishes villains. During her childhood, the girl was exposed to domestic violence from her father and her peers’ cruelty in school. Furthermore, she often experienced the roughness of the system, which declared her incompetence. Initially, all these adversities locked a gifted girl into an asocial hacker who could only express her deep emotional suffering through tattoos, piercing, and black outfits. However, one specific event was when she is assigned with a new guardian Bjurman after her old guardian developed a stroke.

The fact that Lisbeth was emotionally abused and then raped by the new guardian initiated her desire for revenge and elicited how strategic thinking and courage were essential to punish this villain. After careful planning of her reprisal, a young woman could eliminate this person from her life and prevent other girls from being raped by him. This event demonstrated that Salander was capable of fighting against violence and injustice using intelligence and strategic thinking. Her skills, combined with an aversion to violence, helped to disclose criminals responsible for violence against women and helped punish a corrupt official Wennerström in the end.

The Role of a Mentor for a Future Warrior

An experience of childhood abuse developed Lisbeth’s strong aversion to violence and injustice. However, a childhood traumatic experience could aggravate her anti-social behavior if she did not receive care and support from her old legal guardian Palmgren. He helped and supported Lisbeth, patiently explaining that she needs to evaluate the consequences of her actions. The movie demonstrates Lisbeth’s emotional attachment to Palmgren, who became a father figure and a mentor. Palmgren helped her with employment at Milton Security. Still, he probably could not predict that this company will open Lisbeth an opportunity to master her warrior traits and will initiate her journey to become a warrior.

The second mentor who helped Lisbeth to become a warrior was her employer Armanskij. Knowing Lisbeth’s incredible research and computational skills, he assigned her the challenging cases that only she could complete. He did not teach or train her to become an exceptional investigator, but he decided to involve this girl in completing challenging tasks. Armanskij was the one who assigned her investigation of a famous journalist’s biography that later resulted in the girl’s participation in the criminal investigation.

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The third mentor for Lisbeth Salander became the journalist Mikael Blomkvist, one of the movie’s main characters. Her employer assigned the girl to do extensive research on Blomkvist. The journalist, who magnate Henrik Vagner hired to investigate a forty-year-old murder of his niece, later learned about Lisbeth’s exceptional skills and offered her assistance in the murder investigation. As previously mentioned, Lisbeth’s prior adverse life experience developed her aversion to violence against women that influenced her decision to join Blomkvist. Blomkvist was an intelligent, courageous, and gentle person who had an enormous influence on Lisbeth as a warrior against violence and injustice. After helping the journalist solve a series of crimes committed by some Vanger family members and finding the magnate’s niece, Salander decides to seek revenge against a corrupt financer Wennerström, who destroyed Blomkvist’s career. The retaliation was the final point in her journey to become a true warrior against injustice. Using her hacking skills, she executed the reprisal plan that finally established her as an outstanding female warrior who primarily uses her intelligence to fight violence and injustice.


Overall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie is a crime thriller about violence against women and a story about the consequences of childhood abuse. This movie illustrates the importance of courage, independence, intelligence, training by the right mentors, and overcoming adversity were essential in Lisbeth’s journey to becoming a true warrior. This girl’s journey suggests that intelligence is probably more important than physical strength in the war against violence and injustice.


Mazdon, L. (2017). Disrupting the remake: The girl with the dragon tattoo. In I. R. Smith & C. Verevis (Eds.), Transnational Film Remakes (pp. 21–35). Edinburgh University Press. Web.

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