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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Portrayal of Violence against Women in Film

In Advocacy, Sexual Assault Awareness on March 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Based on the first of the popular Millennium trilogy books by Swedish author Stieg about a journalist and a young female hacker. The native title (Män som hatar kvinnor) is Swedish for ‘men who hate women’. It’s a challenging and complex film which requires a depth of intelligence from its viewers to keep up. Before he turned to fiction, the author was a crusading journalist, and the novel incorporates two themes important to Larsson: Nazism and violence against women. Three movie adaptations have been made of the books so far. “The Girl  with the Dragon Tattoo,” the first in the series, opened earlier this year in Europe. According to Music Box Films, the company behind the movies, the Swedish-language film has grossed more than $100 million so far, with English-speaking territories still to come.

The films female protagonist represents a popular-culture convention of individuality, whose gender construction clashes with standards of government authorized gender equality, mandated implementation of paternity leaves, and what are popularly perceived today as politically correct but pedestrian feminist discussions of equal pay for equal work. The character is construed in stark relief to both sexual and social normality. The narrative strategy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo depends on a direct use of corporate structures, which replace character psychology and setting specificity by turning a metaphorical and implicitly global register of entrepreneurship, finance, and economics into predominant vehicles of storytelling. This interest in corporate structures reflects obliquely on the novel’s commercial success but also masks and suppresses the significance of the ethically most jarring egregious crimes of the story: the cover up and depreciation of violence against, and murder of, women.

Hugh Hart of SFGate.com writes a stunning review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo replete with quotes from Director, Niels Arden Oplev about making this film for women and their reaction to the violence against women that is central to the movie’s plot.To learn more about the book, film, and to find a theater near you, visit: www.dragontattoofilm.com.

The film illustrates the real life effects of sexual violence on victims and survivors, emphasizing the importance of getting help. Portrayals of sexual violence in film have the potential to trigger strong memories and emotions for those who have been personally affected by sexual violence. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted – you are not alone. Help is available 24 hours a day at the RCASA Hotline – 540.371.1666.

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