Eight Films That Should NEVER Be Remade By Hollywood
We all click on this website because we share a love of world cinema, a passion for the individuality of foreign film, and the pure joy that comes from watching cinema from a different country. For many of us, it’s the chance to experience a different culture without actually going to that country, to sit in the safety of our own home but, at the same time, travel to exotic locales, such as Brazil or Africa – and all the while watching a gripping and unique narrative.
Perhaps that is why Hollywood has an attraction towards it. With a market that is becoming increasingly saturated with mindless blockbusters or easy sequels, they eventually turned to the foreign market, where fascinating concepts and imaginative stories await. This wouldn’t be a huge problem – there is a certain argument for Hollywood bringing films to an audience that hasn’t seen such cinema before – but America consistently gets it wrong. There are, of course, exceptions; Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is a great remake of Hong Kong thriller Internal Affairs, and the Hollywood version of Let The Right One In captured the essence and the tone of the original perfectly. Unfortunately, these exceptions are few and far between.
Japanese horror is a genre that can be hard to reproduce, exemplified by the very mediocre attempts at both The Grudge and Ringu. Last year’s very average The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, is a remake of 2005’s French romantic thriller Anthony Zimmer, while L’appartement is a complex thriller with a great performance from the ever reliable Vincent Cassel, then the remake eight years later cast Josh Hartnett as the lead (enough said). The list continues.
It is generally an established fact that Western remakes of a successful foreign films cannot live up to the originals. Replacing actors and actresses, locations and storylines with Americans or an American twist is a formula destined for failure. Listed below are eight world cinema films that should never be remade…
Set amidst the stunning backdrop of a picturesque Paris, it tells the story a young woman who has been neglected a proper upbringing by her over-protective father, and so resorts to living in a fantasy version of the real world.
While working at a small café, Amélie (Audrey Tautou) begins to intervene in her customers and co-worker’s lives, trying to change them for the better. She eventually meets her soul-mate, but must escape from her fantasy induced lifestyle first and break free from her isolation if they are to fall in love.
One of the key aspects of Amélie is the location; the scenic post-card vision of Paris that is presented is lovingly framed and shot, and proves to be a beautiful backdrop against a charmingly witty and heart-warming story. If Hollywood were to remake it, they would surely move the setting to an American locale, but where in the States can capture the pure splendour of ‘the city of love’? Also, which actress would willingly attempt to replace the incomparable Audrey Tautou, who managed to portray innocence, playful audacity, lonesomeness and joy so easily?
Unlikely. Although there were rumours of a remake starring Julia Roberts at one time, this never got further than the gossip stage. Ultimately, it is too unique of a picture to be recreated.
The film follows Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), who one night is kidnapped and imprisoned in a small room without warning or reason. He stays there for fifteen years – fighting off insanity and loneliness – before being released into the outside world, intent on revenge.
It is not the narrative that is impossibly inimitable, or even the stylised violence or gore (a director like Quentin Tarantino could replicate it perfectly, and there are striking similarities between this and Kill Bill), but it is the individual parts that make the whole which make it distinctive, and would be lost in any translation. How about the scene where our protagonist eats a live octopus? Or the scene where Oh Dae-su takes on a group of attackers in a corridor, filmed sideways in one shot? Even more importantly, how about the shocking revelations that are revealed at the film’s climax? Without these vital ingredients, it just wouldn’t be Oldboy.
After years of speculation, Spike Lee has recently been confirmed as director of a Hollywood remake. No word on casting, although the rumour mill has it that Josh Brolin could be the lead, while Colin Firth or Christian Bale could star as the antagonist.
Set in 1960s Hong Kong, it tells the story of journalist Chow (Tony Leung) and introverted secretary Su (Maggie Cheung), who become close friends after moving into neighbouring apartments. But their relationship develops further as they begin to suspect their respective partners are having an affair behind their backs, and face difficult moral decisions about their own future.
Played to perfection by the two leads, this intense drama is exemplified by the social context of the setting and the time – 1960s Hong Kong was a time when close friendship between men and women (especially those with spouses) was heavily scrutinised and frowned upon, a small but vital point that would certainly be lost in translation. Furthermore, despite elements of a romantic drama – including a ‘will they/won’t they?’ aspect – it is very subtlety done and never overplayed. Instead, the director focuses on pining glances and eyes filled with longing to help portray the understated desire.
Very doubtful. Too bleak and subtle for Hollywood.
Set in a dystopian near future Japan, a legislation known as the Millennium Educational Reform Act is passed, allowing the government to kidnap students and pit them against each other in a deadly game known as Battle Royale. In said game, students are transported to a remote island, fitted with explosive collars, and given a bag with a randomly selected weapon. They have three days, and it’s kill or be killed, until just one survivor remains…
One of the most controversial films in Japan’s recent history, this bloodthirsty piece of cinema sparked outrage from certain audiences. It is understandable; on initial viewing, it looks little less than a bunch of teenagers being forced to kill each other in a gruesome splatter-fest. But, of course, it is much more than that.
The story of Battle Royale symbolises the transition from education to the cut-throat employment sector of modern day Japan, albeit in an extreme way. It also looks at the rising problems of wayward youths, and how adults filled with nothing but contempt would like to deal with them. Ultimately, it is an insight to the culture and society that exists within Japan and the fears for the future that come with it. Sure there are similar problems today with America – with unemployment and gang culture thriving – but not on the same worrying levels that Japan faces.
Probably not. Teenagers with guns killing each other is a sensitive subject, especially in a country where that is a very real problem, with high school shootings, such as Columbine, still very much in people’s minds.
Another Japanese dystopian future here, this time taking place in Neo-Tokyo. Kaneda is a bike gang leader whose good friend Tetsuo gets involved in a government secret project known as Akira. On his way to save Tetsuo, Kaneda runs into a group of anti-government activists, greedy politicians, reckless scientists and a powerful, corrupt military leader.
Converting a successful anime or manga series into a live action film is always going to be tough. In recent years, attempts have been made with Speed Racer and The Last Airbender, and both were huge failures critically, so why would Akira be any different?
Recognised as one of the most popular anime films of all time, changing its location to the States and replacing its actors with Americans is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen. It would lose all the uniqueness and style that comes with a futuristic Tokyo, as well as the breathtaking action set pieces.
After year of trying, Warner Bros. finally got the project green-lighted, with rumours abound that some of the cast could be Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter and – wait for it – Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame taking the female lead. However, more recently, the remake is said to be on hold again.
Filmed as a ‘found-footage’-type film made popular by The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, the story follows a group of student filmmakers who set out to shoot a documentary on bear hunting, and decide to follow experienced woodsman Hans (Otto Jespersen). However, Hans turns out to be a government sanctioned agent who protects the country from rampaging Trolls. Tired of secret heroism and an unappreciated existence, he decides to let the students film his epic battles, at great risk to their lives.
To begin with, the setting is hugely important here. The concept is fantastical but also strangely believable, as troll stories and legends are firmly rooted in Scandinavian folklore. The only thing that comes close in America is Bigfoot, but as that is a sole creature as appose to the large variety of trolls on display in Norway, that would ruin the film’s feel and eventual message, not to mention the lack of mythological or historical significance. But to throw money at a film with a fascinating narrative to turn it into a big budget blockbuster would destroy it completely; the original features tense and effective action scenes, but managed it on a modest budget, which supported the overall documentary feel.
Certainly. An interesting concept and a genre of ‘found-footage’ that seems incredibly popular the moment, it’s just a matter of time. Chris Columbus’s production company has already acquired the rights to a remake, although no word since then.
Successful artist David Andernach (Mads Mikkelsen) is a family man with it all. One summer’s day, he pays a visit to his mistress instead of looking after his daughter, who drowns in the family pool while he is away. Five years later, a grief-ridden David accidently stumbles upon a hidden door, one that takes him back to the day of the drowning. He saves his daughter, and in a struggle accidently kills his past self. He hides the body, and takes over his own life from five years ago. But all is not well – his daughter suspects something is wrong, his wife has issues trusting him after years of affairs, and a neighbour across the street seems to know a little too much…
Time travel is a tricky subject, often filled with paradoxes and lingering problems. The beauty of The Door is the choice it takes to ignore any questions regarding the titular ‘door’; it is a door that connects the present with a past from five years ago… that is it. That is the only information given, yet, at the same time, it is all we need as an audience.
The film succeeds in different ways, by examining morality and human behaviour, and questioning our very nature to the point where we ask what we would do in such a situation. It is an element that The Door captures perfectly, and one that would be hard to replicate.
Possible. Although we’ll probably never see a straight remake, there is an intriguing narrative here and one that could be replicated in a different form.
A young Malik (Tahar Rahim) is convicted of assaulting police officers and sentenced to six years in a prison separated by two factions: the Corsicans and the Muslims. Malik begins as a low-level servant to a Corsican mob-boss, but quickly begins making connections and learning the tricks of the trade. Having the benefit of French and Algerian parents, he uses his heritage to become friends with the Muslims, and soon goes into business for himself, which includes drug dealing, hostage exchanging and even assassination attempts.
The story isn’t wholly unique; we’ve seen it a hundred times before. Whether it be Scarface or Goodfellas, the rags-to-riches narrative when it comes to gangsters is one, as an audience, we are familiar with. However, A Prophet adds a fresh twist, confining the story within the four walls of a prison cell, and the solitude that comes with it. Combined with exceptional performances from both Tahar Rahim as the lead, and Niels Arestrup as the scheming and vicious mob-boss, and perfect pacing that juxtaposes Malik’s crimes and murders with the daily monotony of prison life, A Prophet is a near perfect film. The main problem for Hollywood, if they attempted to remake it, is that it would be impossible to improve, as well as the fact that the cultural divide between the Corsicans and the Muslims is an issue rooted in historical French society, one that is hard to imitate if the setting was moved to America.
Its huge success critically and on the awards circuit means it is only a matter of time.
Similar Special Features
The Deep, Iceland’s recently shortlisted Academy Award nominee, is a
classic examination of man vs. nature; it also explores how one man survives…
Part one of two features, courtesy of Studiocanal, that sees producer
Guillermo del Toro, alongside stars Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes, as well as…
Louise Brooks was one of the most talented and iconic actresses ever to grace
the silver screen. Her work in the late 1920s with Austrian director G. W. P…