It irks me that the American entertainment machine has to remake every foreign film that has any success or promises to bring in some money.
Does the English-language remake ever improve on the original? Sure, some are more well-known – but that’s marketing. In the creative sense, I really don’t know of a single instance where the remake is actually so much better than the original it just had to be made; in most cases, the opposite is true and the remake just sucks the life out of what made the original a desirable commodity in the first place. (If you know of remakes that are improvements, please feel free to comment!)
I am not talking about inspirations, like Kurosawa’s 1954 Seven Samurai inspiring the 1960 Sturges film The Magnificent Seven. That’s a horse of a different color. I’m talking about outright remakes that make you go, “Wasn’t this movie made already? Why did someone make it again?”
Why not simply find ways to allow more people to see interesting and original films like Brothers (2005), Mostly Martha (2002), Ringu (1998), and La Femme Nikita (1991)? I understand that it’s mostly a revenue issue but there’s more to it, I fear. For audiences, it comes down to an unwillingness to try something out of the ordinary.
We all know the arguments…
“We want our favorite stars in it.”
“We don’t want to have to read subtitles.”
“The original isn’t available!”
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) is one of the best literary adaptations I have seen in a long time. Part of why I liked it so much may be that I’ve been watching awfully mediocre films lately. It sure helped get me out of that slump.
This movie is an amazing adaptation of a book that boasts over 700 pages. It’s tough to smash that into a film of 152 minutes. As long as American filmmakers want to get something out of it, maybe that’s a big take-away – learn from this accomplishment how to incorporate the main points and characters and not cut the heck out of it to fit in more explosions or Oscar-worthy nervous breakdowns. Just saying.