Swedish director, Tomas Alfredson, who has caught the film world's attention with his new horror flick, Let The Right One In, has spoken out against the godawful and relentless syndrome that is Hollywood remakes. Speaking to Swedish film website, Movie Zine, Alfredson had the following to say:
“Remakes should be made of movies that aren’t very good, that gives you the chance to fix whatever has gone wrong. I’m very proud of my movie and think it’s great, but the Americans might be of another opinion. The saddest thing for me would be to see that beautiful story made into something mainstream… I don’t like to whine, but of course - if you’d spent years on painting a picture, you’d hate to hear buzz about a copy even before your version. Why can’t you just read the subtitles?”
These are wise and welcome words from Mr. Alfredson, and thoroughly understandable given that, as is becoming the trend for what I shall call "Extreme Remaking," his film hasn't even had a full release yet. Yes, the remake situation has become so bad, in fact, that it has got to the stage where Hollywood is now feeding off the as-yet unreleased, leeching from the festival table.
Now, I am not against remakes in their purest form i.e. where an update or "rethinking" is genuinely beneficial. For example, John Carpenter's The Thing as a 1982 remake of 1951's The Thing From Another World was a well-timed and somewhat necessary update on a classic. Instances like this are perfectly viable remake territory, for it is natural that we evolve as viewers and, whilst a film's formula may well be classic, it's style will become unavoidably outdated. Carpenter's film took the 50's-era paranoia and updated it for a new generation of horror/sci-fi fans. What scared us or moved us back then is not what scares us or moves us now. Film is a product of it's time and some still hold as remarkable, but more often than not they are rendered through time as exhibits of endearing charm.
And so there is room for remakes, of course, but in its current form it's gone mad. Hollywood is great at mainstream for the masses and gets bums on cinematic seats like no other industry facet. However, it has become extremely rare for a Hollywood remake to be either necessary or good. These remakes are brash and lacking in the subtleties of their European counterparts and, moreover, they usually see fit to give it a heavy religious or political dousing, not to mention a cut-to-fit happy ending. All this pretty much amounts to having an allegory for terrorism on your hands.
Of course, the 'problem' with foreign film is you do have to put up with the subtitles, which certainly is an issue for those too stupid and/or lazy to be bothered with them. But the laziness is in the industry, too, as remakes (and sequels) are a quick and easy way to get the bucks rolling in off the back of an existing 'brand.' The well of originality seems to have dried up, in Hollywood at least, and Europe is looked to, bought-out, ripped-off and 'Americanised' for the idiot masses who lap up this more digestible fare. Ah well, at least it does do away with those darn pesky foreigners, eh?