If you can’t beat them, remake them

-Siobhan Gallagher contributed with this report

The current trend in Hollywood seems to be remaking successful foreign language films and putting them to a mainstream audience but are they succeeding?

One of the most recent of this films, was been the release of “Let Me In” in November last year. The film, which was remade from Swedish movie “Let the Right One In” (Låt den rätte komma in), tells the story of a bullied twelve-year old-boy who develops a friendship with a vampire girl in New Mexico. The film, although it did receive positive reviews from critics, has been slammed by many in the media about why it has been remade.

Film critic Mark Kermode said, in his BBC Blog ‘Kermode Uncut’, that it “did not need to be remade in the English language, the only reason it has been remade is because some people can’t be bothered to read subtitles. Now I understand that there are some remakes which work in the English language that I have a fondness… The problem is this, everything that is right in ‘Let Me In’ is so closely copied from ‘Let the Right One In’, as to suggest that the makers of ‘Let Me In’ understand ‘Let The Right One In’ well enough to know exactly why they shouldn’t have remade it and everything that is wrong with ‘Let Me In’.


The Washington Exclaimer described Let The Right One In as "Best. Vampire Movie. Ever."

“What we have is an English language remake with much of the intelligence taken out, much of the ambiguity removed and everything has been turned up to eleven.”

Kermode also gave the original “Let the Right One In” his award for Best Film of 2008.

Another successful Swedish movie being remade is “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. The film is the first part of a trilogy of novels written by Stieg Larsson and the original was very successful, grossing more than $104 million worldwide when it was released in 2009. So questions will be asked about why this is being remade in the first place?

The American-ised version, from “The Social Network” director David Fincher, is not in cinemas until later this year, by which time all the three of the original movies will have long been released. The remade Hollywood version has also come into criticism by film critics and also the director of the original, Neils Arden Oplev.

Oplev is unhappy that an American, Rooney Mara (The Social Network, Youth In Revolt), has been cast as Lisbeth Salander in the remake – Swedish actress Noomi Rapace had played the character in the original.

Oplev told the Word & Film: “Noomi has captured this part and it should always be all her. That’s her legacy in a way I can’t see anyone competing with. I hope she gets nominated for an Oscar.” Oplev went on to compare the US remake with Hollywood’s version of the French film “La Femme Nikita”, which was poorly received when Hollywood remade it as “The Assassin” in the 1990s.

“Even in Hollywood, there seems to be a kind of anger about the remake, ‘Why would they remake something when they can just go see the original?’… It’s like, why do you want to see – the French version of La Femme Nikita or the American one? You can hope that Fincher does a better job,” said Oplev.

Hollywood has recently given green light to “The Last Exorcism” director, German Daniel Stamm, to create a remake of French horror film “Martyrs”. The original movie saw two orphans, whose friendship is tested to the limit when one of them embarks on a murderous rampage.

While the recently released “The Next Three Days”, starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks, is another remake of a French hit “Pour Elle” (Anything for Her). It has been hit by mixed reviews by the US media, with the Boston Herald calling it “bland” and the Quad City Times calling it an “edge of your seat thriller.”

You have to wonder why Hollywood is so keen to remake foreign languages films. Perhaps the golden age of cinema is over in Hollywood, with new areas taking over the movie world? With the number of new films taking its ideas from novels and comic books, maybe Hollywood has finally run out of ideas and perhaps it’s time to finally admit defeat.

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