They Do It Too: Remakes in Other Countries

Posted in The Screening Room by - November 12, 2015

Often, Hollywood is accused of a creative crisis due to the quantity of remakes, sequels and adaptations we get from them every year. But truth be told, other countries also thrive on remaking movies or even TV shows, either their own or those from other countries. Or maybe not thrive, but they’ve found themselves involved in this trend.  Let’s look at three of them.


For years, Japan has been a source of stories, particularly in the horror and adventure genre that have been retold by American audiences. In 2009, they returned the favor by remaking Sideways, the 2004 Alexander Payne dramedy. In 2004, Hideo Nakata directed Monsterz, a remake of Haunters, a sci-fi thriller. This tradition goes all the way back to 1958 when Hiroshi Inagaki remade Rickshaw Man, a 1943 comedy.


In India, remakes are rather constant and successful. Most recently in this year, the 2011 mixed martial arts American drama Warrior was remade as Brothers. In 2008, they released a remake of the South Korean comedy My Sassy Girl titled Ugly Aur Pagli. There are many more that could be listed, and perhaps the most intriguing aspect is that these remakes often go on without crediting the original films. In the TV-area, remakes have been commissioned and made of American shows like 24 and Everybody Loves Raymond.


In the thirties before international film distribution really got going, it wasn’t unusual for movies to be remade for an international audience with the goal of giving the same story distribution across the world. One such example was Dracula, remade in 1931, the same year in which the Bela Lugosi horror classic was released. They shot the remake using the exact same sets and what was basically a translation of the original script, with the American version shooting during the day and the American version filming at night. The complete movie was lost for decades and it wasn’t until a few years ago in which the missing reel was found, and now the complete movie can be watched as part of Universal’s Dracula: Legacy Collection on DVD. 

Quite a few of the people who’ve watched both versions have found the Mexican version to be superior to the American one. In present day, Mexico has remade its own horror classic such as Hasta el viento tiene miedo, while the 2013 comedy hit Nosotros los Nobles was a remake of Luis Buñuel’s 1949 film El Gran Calavera (in itself, an adaptation of a ply of the same name.) On TV, Mexico has remade its own telenovelas and has also remade series from other countries such as Los Simuladores, a remake of the Argentinian series.

So what do these three examples tell us about the international film industry? What often goes on is that everyone is after the money. The world watches how Hollywood has made a lot of money with its remakes and they try to figure out if they can replay the same formula to their advantage. Or maybe this becomes a trend that explodes from trying to replicate the success of other movies, regardless of them attempting to follow the success of remakes. But it must be said that this is nothing new at all. Literature, theatre and early cinema were common grounds for the replication of stories, whether we like it or not, it’s a tradition. Perhaps we oppose it more now because unlike centuries ago when something like a play was put on, it was only very brief and films weren’t exactly made to stay back in the day.

Now, with television and home media preserving classics for us to rewatch over and over, perhaps our attachment to these stories has grown stronger than ever. But at the same time, it is a shame that Hollywood and other industries around the world don’t see fit to make something that doesn’t have a brand or original work attached to it. Of course, many original films are released throughout the year and being original doesn’t necessarily mean they will be good, but it seems like as audiences, the best way to get originality is to actually pay for it. 

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