With the recent tidal wave of remakes and reboots that have been completely overwhelming and seriously dragging modern cinema into the dirt, I began to think about some of my favourite classic and/or foreign films, and how outraged I would be if they were remade by Hollywood. These are all perfect films; great films Hollywood couldn’t improve upon if they tried, and would only be insulting with their pointless efforts. I managed to come up with a long list of films I pray don’t get remade any time soon, but I’ve cut that list down to ten, and now I’ll share it with you. In no particular order:
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Forgive me if this sounds film-snobbish, but you cannot – and I mean you can not – improve on a Bergman movie. It simply can’t be done. By this I mean, no one can take Bergman’s ideas or screenplays and make better films out of them. No way. Impossible. The Seventh Seal, with its themes of religion, faith and death, isn’t exactly a film likely to be remade, but it is an esteemed classic, and Hollywood do love shitting all over those.
Changes That Would Be Made For The Remake: Sweeping outdoor backdrops, over-the-top score by John Williams, significantly more upbeat mood, affable characters with humorous dialogue, a farcically idiotic Death. Gunnar Björnstrand’s Jöns would probably be the main character, John, and Max von Sydow’s Antonius Block, renamed Tony, would be his down-in-the-dumps best friend who is desperately seeking his wife whom he left for war. The best scene of the film, the strawberries-and-milk scene, would be peppered with clichéd dialogue and sentimentality.
Cast: Ryan Gosling as Antonius, Russell Crowe as Jöns, Javier Bardem as Death, Emma Stone as Mia
8 ½ (1963)
Much like Bergman, Fellini has his own style and grace that really can’t be replicated. And the wonderful charm of Italian neo-realism would be thrown out the window, making this film considerably less interesting.
Changes: The wonderful air of happiness and dreamlike frivolity would get little attention or consideration, and the film would be much more plot-oriented. The womanizing director would have promiscuous young American girls at his side at all times, instead of cheery Italian prostitutes, and would cheat on his wife often, leading to a tearful and over-the-top confrontation, rather than the brilliantly subtle scene in Fellini’s film where the wife discovers his affair in a very silent and accidental manner. A painful divorce would affect the filmmaker, who would become an absolute tyrant on set. The wonderful sequence that closes Fellini’s film would be cut completely and replaced with some ridiculous formulaic ending.
Cast: Mel Gibson as Guido the director, Marisa Tomei as Guido’s wife, Bryce Dallas Howard as Guido’s mistress, Kate Hudson as Claudia, the ideal woman
The 400 Blows (1959)
God knows there have been a lot of youth-in-revolt movies directly inspired by this one, but I don’t know if there’s ever been a direct remake of Truffaut’s film. Let’s hope there isn’t, but if there is…
Changes: Lovable Antoine Doinel would be led into a world of drugs and alcohol, petty crime that becomes dangerous and illegal, and a vicious cycle of other horrid things. His parents would send him to a boarding school, where he would meet a counsellor who becomes the one person that really understands him. Reformed, he returns home and gets a good job at a supermarket, learning to enjoy his life. Note: This plot synopsis could also be used for the remake of A Clockwork Orange.
Cast: Andrew Garfield as Antoine Doinel, Ashley Judd and Tom Cruise as Antoine’s parents
This would just piss a lot of people off.
Changes: Jimmy Schtewart’s character would be a much cooler, more relaxed private detective; y’know, the kind of guy who looks like nothing could ever disturb him or make him lose his cool… until he meets one woman, the sensual Madeleine who is mentally disturbed but falls into Scottie’s arms. They have an affair. After she falls tragically to her death, completely by accident, Scottie attempts to recreate her with another woman; the great twists and turns of the film’s final act are mostly ignored.
Cast: Ewen MacGregor as Scottie, Amy Adams as Madeleine
Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)
Wow, this would be an inaccurate remake.
Changes: Celine and Julie would be good pals and BFFs for life; they stumble upon a strange plot in a dark house, meet two hunky guys, and ‘go boating’ together. Rivette’s wonderfully drawn out sequences of playfulness will be brutally cut short and the dreamy humour absolutely shat on.
Cast: Chloe Moretz as Celine, Selena Gomez as Julie
Changes: This film would be much the same, except that Anna would show up in the third act of the film and catch Claudia making love with Sandro. There would be a deep confrontation that would end absurdly on a boat, like the opening scene, with a desperate Claudia shooting Anna and watching her body float away in the water, toward the island she went missing on.
Cast: Natalie Portman as Claudia, Michael Fassbender as Sandro, Amber Heard as Anna
Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972)
Impossible to remake simply because there is no replacement for Klaus Kinski.
Changes: Aguirre would take charge much earlier on in the film, and would have a love interest, possibly a native woman, his pursuit of whom sparks a war between his people and the land natives. The boat journey is not for El Dorado, but the lost city of Atlantis. The film would end with Aguirre being shot through the heart with an arrow by his native wife, sick of the constant abuse. There would be no rabid monkeys in the third act at all.
Cast: Russell Crowe as Aguirre
Vivre sa Vie (1963)
This was the idea that originally inspired this post. And please God, may it never happen.
Changes: Instead of dying, Karina’s character would contract an STD and the film would end with her reflecting on her life choices in the waiting room of a clinic. The famous dancing scene would be stretched out to five minutes and would be ridiculously over-the-top. There’s no way in hell the Passion of Joan of Arc scene would be included. If it were, Nana would be watching something dumb like Titanic.
Cast: Amanda Seyfried as Nana
This one came to me the other day at work when I was thinking about the Soderbergh remake of Solaris, which I’ve still yet to see.
Changes: It would be about 90 minutes shorter, and inside The Room there would be a magic genie, possibly played by Dwayne Johnson, granting the wishes of the people lucky enough to arrive there. Some shit like that. There would also be dragons and fantastical creatures that obstruct people from reaching The Room, instead of the existential and philosophical crises from Tarkovsky’s classic.
Cast: Michael Caine as The Stalker, Ryan Gosling as the Writer and George Clooney as the Professor
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
HAL, can you make this remake just as thought-provoking, wonderful, enigmatic and perfect as the original? I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Changes: The plot would actually continue into the third act, and it would suck so bad. The Dawn of Man sequence would be completely omitted, and it would be Christoper Nolan-ised to a frustrating degree.
Cast: Michael Fassbender as Dave Bowman, Kevin Spacey as the voice of HAL
So those are some of my ideas of pitiful Hollywood remakes. What do you think of my choices? Name some classics of your own, and how they might be remade/shat on? And if you’re really in a thinking mood, name some films that could actually be made better with a remake?