If looks could kill in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

This reel librarian does NOT go gently into that good night.

First things first:  No, I have not read the books yet. Second: The trilogy is on my reading list, I promise. And third: I also plan on watching the original Swedish film adaptations starring Noomi Rapace. So this will not be a compare-and-contrast post.

Ok, now that’s all cleared up. The hubby and I caught this 2011 American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on our On Demand listings, and we were definitely in the right mood for this dark tale. The movie is tense and visually stunning — David Fincher films are never anything less than well done — and I found Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander riveting. I simply couldn’t take my eyes off her whenever she was onscreen (and considering the allure of Daniel Craig and his covetous wardrobe, that’s saying something). The only thing that really irritated me about the film (other than a few plot holes, or rather, leaps, that I’m sure are better explained in the book) was Daniel Craig’s tendency to hang his glasses down from his ears. NO ONE does that. Seriously. I should start another blog on the misuse and abuse of spectacles in film.

Anyway… Imagine my pleasure at discovering a reel librarian! Of course, Lisbeth would make a kick-ass librarian if she set her mind to it, but let’s be thankful she makes for a kick-ass investigator instead. She does plenty of research (on Google and Wikipedia) along with a generous amount of computer hacking. But while searching online for similar cases of past murders, she does employ the classic research techniques of Boolean operators and keywords in the midst of her search strings and queries (see below). ♥

Keywords and Boolean operators in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Keywords and Boolean operators in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

So a little after an hour and a half into the film, Mikael and Lisbeth get permission to use the Vanger Industry’s corporate records, and Lisbeth gets right to work in the archives. This REALLY disgruntles the archivist librarian, who wastes no time casting dirty looks and tight-lipped smiles in Lisbeth’s direction. Although never referred to by name in the film, I did my own research and found the archivist listed in the credits as Lindgren, played by Anne-Li Norberg.

Lindgren has short, slicked-down hair, and dark, conservative wardrobe consisting of a greyish buttoned-up shirt, long cardigan, black skirt, black tights, and flat shoes (so sensible!). I almost wished for glasses hanging off a lanyard, just to complete the stereotypical image of the Spinster Librarian (see below).

Reel archivist in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Girl, I don’t have time for this crap!

In the archivist’s spacious office, we spy a computer — which looks positively ancient and old-fashioned when contrasted with Lisbeth’s Mac, as does Lindgren herself when contrasted with Lisbeth, hmmm — plus a typewriter, stacked files, and boxes of notecards.

Lindgren:  Are you finished?

Lisbeth: I need to know where all factories, offices and projects were from 1949 to 1966.

Lindgren: You already have everything.

Lisbeth:  No, I don’t. Nothing on subsidiary corporations, partnerships, or suppliers.

Lindgren: Then you’ll have to do without.

Lisbeth: Mr. Frode said I have access to whatever I need. This is what I need.

Lindgren: He said you have access to THIS floor.

Lisbeth: Call him.

Yeah, you know Lindgren’s repeating some choice words in her head after that exchange! The next frame highlights another tight-lipped expression on her face. And score one for accuracy, we also get treated  to a shot of her pulling on white cotton gloves in preparation for handling archives.

Book cart alert! in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
No problem, I’ll push this cart all by myself. It’s in the reel librarian job description, after all.

Next, the archivist’s shown on a ladder, with Lisbeth studiously ignoring gestures to help out with the heavy volumes. After all, we wouldn’t want to be deprived of Lindgren pushing the cart full of heavy books (see above). How else would we know she’s a reel librarian? 😉

At an hour and forty-five minutes, this reel librarian has had enough, with the announcement, “We’re closing.” Lisbeth doesn’t even look up, and Lindgren is forced to admit that she’s not authorized to stay late. Lisbeth’s response? “I am. And I need access to everything, including anything that’s locked. Call Frode.”

So the long-suffering Lindgren locks up, sighs, drops her keys on the table behind Lisbeth, and tries to salvage one last shred of authority by stating, “Leave the keys with the guard.”

Lindgren the reel archivist in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I’ve had enough.

But this reel librarian does NOT go gently into that good night. We hear later from Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård), the head of Vanger Industries, that he had heard from their archives manager, who was “very perturbed with this girl Lisbeth.” And she wasn’t even subjected to witnessing Lisbeth’s eating and drinking coffee (from a cup with no lid, no less!) while walking through the stacks.

What Lisbeth finds in those archives does not actually advance the plot all that much in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, as Mikael also comes to the same conclusion regarding the killer’s identity, albeit from a different route. But as one reviewer, Volkman, points out, “Fincher may be overrated as a director, but he can sure build suspense and dread. Witness the fine job he does near the end of the film with Lisbeth combing through the archives of the Vangers’ company. Not every director can wring tension from such an innocuous setting.” Although personally rolling my eyes at the phrase ‘innocuous setting,’ the point is well-made.

If looks could kill in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
If looks could kill

So there you have it. A typical Spinster Librarian with a sliver of Information Provider (she helps establish the archives setting, and she does retrieve the archival volumes, albeit most unwillingly), similar in the vein of Eily Malyon in Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Lindgren gets enough screen time — and enough “looks could kill” close-ups (see above) — to join the Class III category of reel librarian portrayals.

One last note:  About an hour into the film, reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) visits the local newspaper office, Destads Kuriren (Destads Courier, according to Google Translate), and peruses photo archives in a back office with the help of a woman (Sandra Andreis). I’m not, however, including this woman as a reel librarian, because (a) the local newspaper office is probably too small to staff an actual archivist, and (b), this role is billed as Photo Editor.

Sources used:


Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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