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Soundtrack review: The girl with the dragon tatoo (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – 2011)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The girl with the dragon tatoo (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – 2011)


„The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”” is a 2011 Swedish-American psychological thriller film based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson. This film adaptation was directed by David Fincher and written by Steven Zaillian. Starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, it tells the story of journalist Mikael Blomkvist’s (Craig) investigation to find out what happened to a woman from a wealthy family who disappeared forty years prior. He recruits the help of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara). I’ve seen and loved the Swedish original. This is the only David Fincher movie I haven’t seen yet but it’s just because I wanted to keep it there for when the mood strikes. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were the right guys to score such a dark movie and they rewarded the fans with a three hour long composition. Once again the titles of the cues are simply poetic.

I love the comfort of talking about this score from my perspective far from the demands or scoffs or doubts of many others. Ignorance really is bliss in this case and all I care about is the music and how it makes me feel. This sound is deep in my comfort zone and the paths it travels inside me are well known and beaten. I find my position and start dreaming familiar dreams, remembering favorite memories and even imagining new ones. It’s strange to talk about comfort when the music is so cold and almost metallic but everything changes once the music gets inside me. And yes, it is music, since the door I used to separate myself from the outside world seems to be a little ajar.

“What if we could?” is something I would always keep close. This one is a showstopper, an inner demon slayer, a gorgeous atmospheric musing. It’s that moment when even the hardest storm quiets down and everyone can take a breather. On the other hand there are more unintelligible pieces such as “With the flies” but even they have their place. Keep in mind that this movie is dark and disturbing and that the director’s vision could also be hard to watch at times. The music mirrors the visceral reactions the movie gets and this is what the score is for.

For me “The girl with the dragon tattoo” wouldn’t have worked as well if it was short. This kind of musical vision needs a big canvas to play with all its ideas and this kind of score opens hundreds of threads that it could follow anytime it wanted. There isn’t a proper beginning or a proper ending because Trent and Atticus’ composition comes from a cold land stripped to the bare essentials where the sun rarely shines and where travelers are forced to face their most intimate thoughts that they tried to keep hidden.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 88 / 174

Album excellence: 52%


Immigrant Song

She Reminds Me Of You

Pinned And Mounted

What If We Could?

Hidden In Snow

A Thousand Details

Please Take Your Hand Away

The Splinter


The Same As the Others

While Waiting

The Seconds Drag

Parallel Timeline with Alternate Outcome

Another Way of Caring

A Viable Construct

Revealed in the Thaw


We Could Wait Forever

A Pair of Doves


The Sound of Forgetting

Of Secrets


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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