If you haven't yet seen the original Swedish trilogy or the 2011 American remake by David Fincher, stop reading now and go watch it. I discovered the Swedish films sometime in mid-2011, shortly before the U.S. remake was released. Luckily, that was just a happy coincidence.
I knew nothing of the story or the incredible heroine that made this series so popular. And after the first viewing, I instantly knew why. Lisbeth Salander. She's amazing, it's just as simple as that. She's a petite punk-hacker girl who doesn't take anything from anybody. She's her own boss, no matter what. She's had trouble with authorities all her life and never ceases in trying to take the corrupt ones down. She's fights, she maims, all the while still maintaining the higher ground (well, most of the time).
This girl, while appearing insignificant and minute in the world she lives in, matters more than you would think. In an age where sexism is ever-present, Salander's story couldn't be more relative. The original Swedish title of the debut novel book of which the first film is based is actually "Men Who Hate Women." And clearly, that name was changed for American audiences because for some reason we can't take such a harsh title.
And while it may at first appear that Salander is strictly a feminist character, there's a different motivation lurking underneath. While she does get her comeuppance on the many men who take advantage of her seemingly small stature, she's not doing so because she thinks women should be equal or not abused by men, but rather doing because she, personally, doesn't want to be controlled in any way, shape, or form. It's not for the greater good, it's for her. And that's what makes her so compelling. She's in a position to fight against one problem, then goes off and stands for something entirely different than what most would expect from someone like her.
She has the ability to hack into and expose anyone that she feels may have swept something under the rug to avoid jail or humiliation. Politicians. Doctors. Journalists. Businessman. You name it, she does it. And since currently society struggles with exposing those types of high-ranking officials, a girl like her taking down the bad guys at the touch of her keyboard is overwhelming satisfying and inspiring.
She's one of the most fascinating, endlessly developing, and compelling characters ever on screen in my opinion. Every time I watch the Swedish films or American remake, I discover something new about her character. And after dozens of viewings (at least), that's something quite special.
She's dark and mysterious, frightening and unpredictable. She is who she is, not caring what society wants her to be. Salander's stories and motivations are incredibly relevant and inspiring in the modern age. She feels so real that I sometimes think she might pop one day on the sidewalk. And for the record, I really hope she does.
She is the girl with the dragon tattoo.