When I heard that there was going to be an American version of the international sensation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I thought to myself, “Why remake a movie that’s as good as the original Swedish film?” I was completely against seeing this movie, my stubbornness exposed to anyone I confided in, that is until I found out that David Fincher would be directing the remake with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composing the soundtrack to the film.
Upon hearing that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross would be composing the film score, I was ecstatic. I am a huge Nine Inch Nails fan, as they are one of the few bands I listened to as a teenager and continue to listen to today. I saw Nine Inch Nails during their last tour, and once I discovered that they wouldn’t be playing live for a long time I became upset. I thought that if there was no touring band then there wouldn’t be a band, meaning Trent Reznor probably wouldn’t be recording any new albums. I couldn’t have been further from the truth, as I later read that Trent Reznor would be composing music for David Fincher’s film The Social Network. I thought the combination was odd, not so much the combination of David Fincher and Trent Reznor, but Trent Reznor’s musical vision juxtaposed with the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the emergence of Facebook. All that doubt as to whether it would fit disappeared immediately upon watching The Social Network, as the music enhanced the film to the point that I felt it had made the movie a deep portrayal of multidimensional characters, rather than the typical, superficial, one-dimensional character portraits so often seen in American cinema today.
Needless to say, when I heard that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross would be composing the soundtrack for David Fincher’s newest film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I knew that the music would fit perfectly within the premise and the environment of this story. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is full of dark, brutal material, lending itself as the perfect base for Reznor and Ross to build their musical ideas from. During the opening credits of the movie a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” (with Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singing) can be heard. This may be the most popular download from the soundtrack, but it’s far from being the most profound, eloquent, or haunting track on this album.
The soundtrack contains a total of 39 songs, taking up 3 CD discs and running close to three hours (longer than the movie itself). A highlight, for me, on this record is the track “Please Take Your Hand Away,” containing one of the most beautiful, yet dissonant, melodies I’ve ever heard from Trent Reznor, Debussyesque in its execution of emotion and sound.
“I Can’t Take It Anymore,” with a duration of less than two minutes, paints Sweden’s northern ambiance, as was portrayed in the film, to a tee, hitting all the right, hauntingly, beautiful notes. And if you want a song that is certainly constructed in the way in which a Nine Inch Nails’ song might be constructed, then “Hypomania” is definitely worth a listen; the music building on top of a droning piano part that is played from the start of the track until the end of it. The main purpose of this soundtrack is to evoke an environment and a feeling to each track, done so with the assistance of layers upon layers of sound, producing what could be called a symphonious layer cake.
Is this album different from a Nine Inch Nails record? Of course. If you’re expecting to hear Trent Reznor scream about taboo subjects and decadence then maybe this record isn’t for you. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the culmination of more than two decades of cutting records, touring, and writing music. If Trent Reznor was to write music in a similar style to that of The Downward Spiral , then what would be the point of listening to his new material if we could just listen to his earlier records?