Do We Need to See This Again?

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They say imitation is the best form of flattery–but what is it when you are imitating yourself? Shot by shot? This is the case with German filmmaker Michael Haneke (Cache) and his upcoming ten-year anniversary, shot-for-shot remake of his 1998 film Funny Games. You could say this is his “American” version, with more recognizable actors (Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet), which in this age of imports/exports (Infernal Affairs/Departed anyone?) makes perfect sense. Plus Warner Independent no doubt is keen on trying out a Euro-intellectual iteration of the Saw genre. So why not? Just because Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho didn’t work out so well, doesn’t mean Haneke won’t have success.

In any case, it’ll be interesting to see how American audiences respond to Haneke’s film (coming out March 14), which is essentially a self-reflexive study in film spectatorship. It’s less about violence and terror and torture as it is about the cinema’s treatment of those subjects and our attraction/repulsion to them. It’s totally over-the-top and trying for any audience with a conscious, which is exactly the point Haneke is trying to make. Whether it’s a point we need to see again, is another question. For what it’s worth, however, the new version’s trailer is stunning… and it mirrors the German version in many ways. Take a look:

Here’s the trailer for the upcoming 2008 version:

And here’s the trailer for the 1997 version:

6 responses to “Do We Need to See This Again?

  1. I’ve always thought of Haneke as a bit of a puritan and a scold, but he’s also an uncompromisingly brilliant filmmaker, and I’m very curious about this project.

    This strange “foreign filmmaker redoing his own film in English” subgenre is nothing new (many of the J-horror directors have retooled their work for American release), but it’s nevertheless an interesting experiment. It asks: Can the director improve on his own work?

    It’s hard to imagine Haneke outdoing the original Funny Games, but it might be something to see him try.

  2. I’m curious, how is this ‘a self-reflexive study in film spectatorship’, or how does it address our attraction/repulsion towards violence? I’ve never seen Funny Games but am always up for self-reflection.

  3. Is the idea of an ‘import film’ really that new? John Sturges remade Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ as ‘The Magnificent Seven’ back in 1960. In fact several of Kurosawa’s films were ported to different cultures (usually as westerns)— and the Raymond Burr version of ‘Godzilla’ two years after the Japanese original, while featuring huge amounts of footage from Ishiro Honda’s film, is definitely an American reworking. There are plenty of other examples from film history.

  4. Yeah, Tim, it’s definitely not a new thing to remake films for different countries. The thing I’m interested in is the whole shot-for-shot, same-director, same-everything idea. What’s up with that? It doesn’t seem like Haneke is re-tooling this film for a foreign audience except for making it in English. I don’t even think the dialogue is different. Seems a tad indulgent… though certainly interesting.

  5. In that case I think The Departed hardly qualifies, as it includes at least one new main character missing in Infernal Affairs— and for that matter, neither do The Ring or The Grudge, which also include altered plot elements.

    Anyway, I agree that this is a pretty odd concept, as was the Van Sant Psycho, which I could understand from a let’s-teach-myself-some-Hitchcock-theory standpoint, but not as something to actually distribute internationally.

  6. I saw this last week, and it was awful. There’s no room for hope.

    I don’t know,but movies like this have to have some redeeming value. This movie just points its finger at the audience without offering any solutions.

    I’m pretty sure the average movie-goer will get the point its trying to make. I’m also pretty sure they already knew this point before going in.

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