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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Character Profile: Lisbeth Salander

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Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is a computer hacker, but not just any computer hacker. Working for a high-tech security firm, with her photographic memory and lightning-fast analytical abilities, she is an uber-hacker—a bona fide genius.

When we first meet her in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, she is doing a background check on one Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), an investigative journalist embroiled in a libel case. But she’s not investigating his guilt or innocence, she’s vetting him for Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who’s about to offer him the most difficult investigation of his career. For Blomkvist the freelance job for Vanger just might redeem his career—if it doesn’t kill him first.

Salander, the title character in the film is, as her boss notes to Mikael, “unique”—to say the least. On the surface, the young woman is part punk, part Goth girl. Her tattoos and body piercings (almost too many to count), along with an attitude that says in no uncertain terms, “Keep Out!” provide her colleagues and anyone else who encounters her the picture of anti-social defiance. And if that’s not enough, she carries with her a Taser device, set to stun any who should dare to tread into her personal space.

Among the many piercings and tattoos on her body, the most prominent is a large tattoo of a dragon that covers much of her back; perhaps its purpose is to imbue her with a sense of courage—even invincibility against a world that only seems to threaten. Behind her eyes, the only feature on her rail-thin body to suggest her humanity, lives a troubled young woman; someone who has known tragedy and loss—vulnerable and fragile. She has been the victim and has survived by her wits and toughness, and so her appearance of fragility is as much as mask as her black Goth makeup and attire.

Deemed by the State as incompetent, and having lived in psychiatric institutions, she has a court-appointed guardian; her parents are not living. When her kind, and understanding guardian suffers a stroke, Lisbeth is assigned a new guardian—a brutal, even psychopathic, animal. It is yet another blow to her, but her life has taught her well how to deal with brutality—and it is not kindly.

Hired by Mikael Blomkvist to aid him in his project for Henrik Vanger, Lisbeth immediately becomes his right hand, his muse—and perhaps his redeemer. But will Lisbeth herself be saved from her own demons?

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will be released on Blu-ray and DVD March 20, and is now available for pre-order.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.