Textual Analysis 5: ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Opening Title Sequence


‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’ is a 2011 Swedish-American psychological thriller film, directed by David Fincher and written by Steven Zaillian. The film is based on the novel, ‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’, written by Stieg Larsson.

The opening sequence below gives the audience a great insight to the darkness and violence of this film, plus giving them knowledge of what genre of film this is.

Through the editing work of Kirk Baxter, this sequence immediately sets the tone and atmosphere for this film as disturbing and action packed, portrayed through the choice of shots and mise-en-scene.


The opening sequence



In the sequence there are a lot of extreme close ups used. This means that usually there is only one character/object in the frame, and the camera tends to tracks across this one object/character. The character/object is usually covered in ink, adding mystery and enigma to the scene, increasing tension and interest within the audience. The use of constant close ups can make it hard for the audience to gather what is actually going on. this can then make the the audience disorientated and make the scene seem hectic, which is a good transition into the movie.

A lot of high angle shots are also used in the sequence, showing characters submerged in blackness, making them appear insignificant and helpless.

The camera movement in the sequence is never still, it is constantly panning or tracing across the frame, with gives a fast paced feel to the title sequence and adds to the idea of it being a thriller film.



As I discovered through the analysis of the camera, there is usually only one person or object in the frame at a time, which makes that one thing become very significant in the shot. One thing that is focused on in multiple shots throughout the sequence is technology. The audience sees a series of shots with keyboards, and some other shots with wires and cables. This technology is representative of the protagonists profession as a hacker.

The most repetitive and iconic feature of the title sequence however is the black running ink that consumes all objects and characters in the sequence. The reasoning this ink is so repetitive and iconic in the opening title sequence is because it it representative of the title of the film ‘The girl with the dragon Tattoo’, which also happens to be the protagonists tattoo.

The colour theme is mostly black, with text given in white. This white text is representative of the purity of the characters against the dark background. However, the majority of the frame is black, suggesting that there will not be much purity within the film. The colours that are chosen in the opening sequence are both dark and dimly lit, thus creating a perfect and fitting mood and atmosphere for a thriller film.



At the start of the title sequence, multiple shots orderly flash upon screen rapidly. As I have already mentioned, this disorientates the audience as the shots are hard to see. This feeling of disorientation stays present in both the editing and in the audience throughout the title sequence, making it seem fast paced, shocking and gives the feel of a thriller genre.

The shots become frightful and scary, as in one shot it appears that a burning torch is falling into someones eye.

There is also a point in the sequence where close up shots of a women are being integrated with similar shots of a child. This could represent that the protagonist is childlike or something significant towards the story happened to her at this age.

As the pace of the music quickens, so does the speed of the frames and more jump cuts are introduced. This creates suspense and tension in the audience, very fitting for a thriller film.

Special effects are in full swing throughout the sequence, this is especially apparent with the ink. The viewer sees ink cover the face of humans, which usually wouldn’t be possible to do with real actors. So this therefore goes on to create a very serial environment for the viewer, making them feel anxious as it is something they are not used to.



The soundtrack in the sequence is called “Immigrant Song” by Karen O, and is placed in the music genre of hard rock. This genre of music is very fitting for the films protagonist, whom beholds a Gothic appearance and personality. The music also intensifies the whole sequence.

The soundtrack compliments and moves very well with the mise-en-scene, which keeps the audience interested as they can predict what may happen next.


Side Note 

This is yet another fantastic opening title sequence, directed by David Fincher, whom also directed “Se7en”. I will continue to explore some more of David Finchers work and opening title sequences along with others, however as of now David Fincher is probably my main inspiration in creating an opening title sequence for a thriller genre.






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