Foreign Film Reboots

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The current line up of movies at the local theater includes three sequels, three remakes of films that were previously successful, and countless others that were adapted from books or plays. The past decade has seen the Hollywood film industry become a vacuum of recycled film plots and unnecessary remakes. The whole point of remaking something is that the original subject needed to be improved upon. Perhaps the biggest crime against art is when Hollywood takes something that was successful in another country and tries to market it as something new and exciting in the United States.

Most recently it happened with Let Me In, Matt Reeves version of the critically acclaimed Swedish film Let The Right One In (which is admittedly based on a book of the same title). Less than two years after Tomas Alfredson’s version hit the festival circuit, Hollywood was marketing the English-language version. Reeves claimed that it was an adaptation of the book and not a copy of Alfredson’s film. Yet, the book is set in Blackeberg, Sweden, and Reeves’s film is set in New Mexico. Arguably, Reeves had every right to make his own version of the film. But when you change the setting and the culture in which the story is set, other things change as well, and the original material that fans of the book first fell in love with goes straight through the paper shredder.

The Swedes are getting another remake this winter with David Fincher’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Series. Rooney Mara will take on the role of Lisbeth Salander and Daniel Craig will play Mikael Blomkvist. The original Swedish trilogy had a relatively small worldwide release and brought in $22.9 million at the box office, though the reviews were favorable. David Fincher’s first film in the series, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, had an estimated budget of $100,000,000.

“I’m skeptical at how the movie’s actually going to be composed together,” Harrison Friday, a music composition major at Columbia College Chicago.

Judging from the trailer and Fincher’s previous work, his adaptation looks like it has the potential to be a fantastic sinister thriller with Fincher’s signature visual style and the help of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s minimalist apocalyptic soundtrack to back it up.

Perhaps Fincher will be the exception in the long track record of disastrous film remakes. There was the appalling revision of the Dutch psychological thriller The Vanishing that completely butchered the climax of the film that left viewers of the first film shaking in their seats. Some English language films act as exact copies of the original material. Michael Haneke directed both the Austrian and English version of his movie Funny Games. The two films were almost identical.

Vanilla Sky is almost a shot-for-shot remake of Abre Los Ojos, yet is a much poorer film. Some directors have succeeded in finding new audiences for stories through artful remastering of previous work. The Ring got under people’s skin with its ghastly visuals and chilling atmosphere, yet many do not know it came out years before in Japan under the title Ringu. Michael Scorcese won his first Academy Award for The Departed, which was a remake of the Cantonese film Infernal Affairs.

Whether the English-language version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo will satisfy fans of the book series is yet to be seen. For now they will have to settle for the recently released four-minute trailer and the soundtrack clips that have been uploaded to Youtube, before the “feel bad movie of Christmas” makes its debut.

“I think there will always be people that say that the original is so much better, but the goal of filmmaking is to bring your work to an audience, and if a remake is what is going to bring it to the largest audience, then maybe that's what needs to happen,” Claire Teasdale a Writing for Film and Television major at Emerson College said. 

Sophomore > Magazine Journalism > Syracuse University

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