Exploring Soundtracks: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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This week in Exploring Soundtracks, we’ll be looking at another of David Fincher’s films. For the past several weeks now, we’ve been working our way through Fincher’s filmography.

Last time, we looked at the soundtrack to “The Social Network”, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The soundtrack went on to win an Oscar, which may be the reason why Fincher decided to enlist the two for his next film. The score was nominated for the 2011 Golden Globe for Best Original Score, and won the Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

With “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, Fincher once again proves that he knows who to pick when it comes to constructing a satisfying soundtrack. Ross and Reznor’s ambient score takes its time to build an atmosphere that mounts to a sense of rising dread.

Synopsis

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is a 2011 psychological crime thriller based on the 2005 novel of the same name. It follows the story of a disgraced financial reporter named Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), who tries to find redemption by solving a 40-year old murder case. Eventually joining him in his case is the unusual but brilliant hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

To keep up with the run time of the movie, the soundtrack for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is nearly three hours long. Spread across three CD’s, it actually exceeds the length of the film.

The soundtrack also includes a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”, with vocals by Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The album opens with it, and it’s honestly one of the best Led Zeppelin covers I’ve heard. The only other vocal track on the album is the last one, “Is your Love Strong Enough”, made for the closing credits. Other than these bookends, the rest of the soundtrack is purely instrumental.

Most of the tracks fall under two distinct categories. There are those meant for action and thrill, that build the momentum with drums driving them forward. Then there are the quieter, more ambient tracks, slow and contemplative that meander into experimental sonic landscapes. The other tracks that fall somewhere in between are mostly built around simple ideas. A single melody, riff, or drum pattern, or phrase.

Unlike “The Social Network”, the soundtrack for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is more concerned with building tension and atmosphere than strong motifs or standout tracks. The tracks instead work to create a sense of overwhelming dread and bleakness.

Final Thoughts

Another difference that the soundtrack for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” has with “The Social Network”, is its accessibility. While it works great alongside the film, I can’t imagine ever wanting to sit down and listen to this in the background while I do anything. The only track I can imagine listening to on my own is the “Immigrant Song” cover by Karen O. “The Social Network” made for decent studying music, but this one works better with the film to back it up.

That being said, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” was still masterfully crafted. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross may have just found their true calling in crafting film scores.

Track List

1. Immigrant Song
2. She Reminds Me Of You
3. People Lie All The Time
4. Pinned And Mounted
5. Perihelion
6. What If We Could?
7. With The Flies
8. Hidden In Snow
9. A Thousand Details
10. One Particular Moment
11. I Can’t Take It Anymore
12. How Brittle The Bones
13. Please Take Your Hand Away

14. Cut Into Pieces
15. The Splinter
16. An Itch
17. Hypomania
18. Under The Midnight Sun
19. Aphelion
20. You’re Here
21. The Same As The Others
22. A Pause For Reflection
23. While Waiting
24. The Seconds Drag
25. Later Into The Night
26. Parallel Timeline With Alternate Outcome

27. Another Way Of Caring
28. A Viable Construct
29. Revealed In The Thaw
30. Millennia
31. We Could Wait Forever
32. Oraculum
33. Great Bird Of Prey
34. The Heretics
35. A Pair Of Doves
36. Infiltrator
37. The Sound Of Forgetting
38. Of Secrets
39. Is Your Love Strong Enough?

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