Real Lisbeth inspired character Lisbeth Salander from Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The American adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (directed by David Fincher) is about to hit the theaters full force December 20 (Tuesday.)

It’s already being hyped as possibly the best movie of the year (and if Fincher, Daniel Craig, and Rooney Mara gave the book by Stieg Larsson any justice, it should be,) but few people know the real story behind the fictional novel that transfixed the entire globe.

Author Stieg Larsson, who died of a heart-attack before he could see his trilogy of novels become international bestsellers, based the tough-yet-abused Lisbeth Salander character on a real girl he knew in his youth that he failed to help in her time of need.

According to Larsson’s friend Kurdo Baksi (who wrote a book about Larsson) when the Swedish Larsson was 15, he camped in a northern Swedish town with some pals. There he witnessed three of his “friends rape a girl, also called Lisbeth, who was the same age as him and someone he knew. Her screams were heartrending, but he didn’t intervene. His loyalty to his friends was too strong. He was too young, too insecure.”

The real Lisbeth rejected Larsson’s apology that he did not help her, but the violence he witnessed, and his own non-action haunted him, and helped him create Lisbeth Salander. Throughout his life Larsson was a political activist and an outspoken feminist who was appalled and disturbed at the number at the acts of male violence against women in our society. TGWTDT graphically depicts some of these terrible acts, and also fights against them. In fact, Larsson almost named the first book Women Who Hate Men.

But there’s another inspiration for Lisbeth Salander that’s less dark, and helps explain the character’s odd charm and wide appeal: Pippi Longstocking!

Larsson tried to imagine Pippi Longstocking as a grown-up and came up with a somewhat dysfunctional young woman who was incredibly independent, but had a hard time finding her place in society.

Pippi, a Swedish character who came to be a force in feminism, was a lovable child who lived alone (because her mother was dead) with her monkey and horse in a quirky house, called Villa Villekulla. She only went to school when she felt like it, and was addicted to coffee. She dressed strangely: her orange braids stuck out and she wore curious stockings. She was also a bad-ass who would would through around police officers like they were rag dolls if they asked if she was being a “good girl.” Sounds a bit like Lisbeth!

The world needs a good anti-hero like the damaged and altered-Pippi Longstocking we have with Lisbeth.

Who’s spending their Holiday Week/end with an emaciated, tattooed, loner chick with a chip on her shoulder? This blogger!

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