Saturday, 12 October 2013

Original Vs Remake

I had the idea to do a few reoccurring posts about original films in their original language vs the American/British remakes.

I remembered once in college, studying Film Studies, our teacher made us watch, The Vanishing. First the Dutch original the  the US remake. We were challenged by the teacher, asking us which was better and which we liked. The majority voted that the original was by far the better film but actually liked the remake.

I can't speak for the rest of my class back then but the reason why I was guilty of preferring the US remake was simply it had a redeeming ending. The fact the original was in Dutch and had subtitles did not faze me. Whether a film has subtitles or not bares no conclusion on whether it is a good film or not.

I couldn't bare to watch either film again, for different reasons. The original was better acted, structured and held more suspense and intrigue. It may have had the edge because we saw it first but the remake started off serious then turned into a ridiculous farce. It even ended with the cheesiest lines of all time. There isn't any point repeating it as it will bare no context here. But trust me, it was bad.

The original, 'The Vanishing' made in 1988, directed by George Sluizer was about a Dutch couple, Rex and Saskia on holiday in France. They stop at a petrol station and Saskia goes to buy drinks but never returns. Three years go past and Rex is still searching for her. His new girlfriend, Lieneke, leaves him as she is can't stand his obsession with finding Saskia. Raymond, a respectable family man is the one who kidnapped Saskia from the petrol station. He had been experimenting with chloroform and planning to abduct a woman. After three years of watching Rex search for Saskia, Raymond makes contact and tells him he is the one who took Saskia but there is no evidence to connect him to the crime. He offers Rex the chance to find out what happened to Saskia by experiencing exactly what happened to her.After drinking some spiked coffee, given to him by Raymond, Rex wakes up and finds that he has been buried. Above ground, Raymond relaxes and reads a newspaper with a story about the mysterious disappearances of first Saskia, now Rex.

As I said, not a pleasant and quite unsatisfying ending, but still a good film. The reminded me of 'Funny Games' in a small way. Funny Games made me and everything, mostly because everything in that film happened for no reason and all the characters were helpless, it was terrifying. The character of Raymond in The Vanishing is similar. He abducts a woman and kills her, slowly, for no real reason except that it is an experiment. It is vicious and there is no punishment for me. I felt uneasy while watch the credits. I will never watch this film again. Once was enough.

In the 1993 remake 'The Vanishing' was also directed by George Sluzier. The practice of remaking films with the same director has been done before, such as Funny Games was remade by director Michael Hanke. I think this is so they have control of the story.

The remake is slightly different. It begins the same way with a couple, Jeff and Diane on holiday, they stop for gas and she is abducted. But the abductee, Barney, goes directly to Jeff and straight out offers to show him what happened but Jeff experiencing what Diane went through. Then the film is told in flashbacks. Back in the present, Jeff's new girlfriend, Rita tracks the two men down and saves Jeff who was already buried. Jeff kills Barney then Rita and Barney are happily selling the story to publishing company at the end of the film. Quite different.

The remake, to be fair, had a ridiculous ending, plus Barney the abductee isn't given the same sort of situation as Raymond. He had issues so therefore it was understandable that he was a murderer, but Raymond had a proper family, work and was known in the community, why was he a killer, we, the audience isn't given a real explanation. But the killer is punished and I felt better, the I heard the last cheesy line in the remake and felt just as bad as the original.

I still agree with what I said back in college doing my A levels. But I thought about other films with remakes and how different they were, so I have compiled a short list of films to watch. I can tell you now, Funny Games is NOT on the list. I was so disturbed by that film, I practically threw it out of the window to get away from it.

Next Original vs Remake:

Mostly Martha, 2001 (German) vs No Reservations, 2007 (US)

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