Friday snippets: ‘Death of the remake?’ and ‘Once upon a Time in Anatolia’


An article by Charles Gant in today’s Guardian asks ‘Is the Hollywood remake dead?’. In it he explores why some English-language remakes (most notably of the Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) are not fairing as well as expected at the box office, and highlights the increased success of foreign-language films in recent years. Gant quotes Marianne Gray, a producer with Yellow Bird Films, who feels ‘everything is getting more global, and audiences are more accepting of subtitles’, but goes on to argue that there’s a bigger factor at play here as well. Put simply, ‘films are succeeding because of their foreignness, not in spite of it’; their unique selling point is authenticity, with audiences keen to sample ‘authentic originals’ rather than commercially-driven copies.

Good marketing tactics don’t hurt either, of course. The Norwegian adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters opens in cinemas this Good Friday, a release date that proved highly profitable for Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish film Let the Right One In back in 2009.

The article raises some other interesting questions, such as why English-language remakes are considered necessary in the first place, and is well worth a read.


Critics seem to be unanimous in their praise of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da): ‘a carefully controlled masterpiece’  (French / Observer); ‘completely gripping…an astonishing crime procedural’ (Quinn / Independent); ‘murder mysteries rarely run so deep’ (Calhoun / Time Out). It also won the Grand Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

The more I read about this film, the more I want to see it, and the more frustrated I become at its apparently limited distribution in the UK. I’d love to see it in on the big screen in the cinema, but may have to wait for the DVD *sigh*

Here, in any case, is a tantalising synopsis from the Cinema Guild film website:

‘In the dead of night, a group of men – among them a police commissioner, a prosecutor, a doctor and a murder suspect – drive through the Anatolian countryside, the serpentine roads and rolling hills lit only by the headlights of their cars. They are searching for a corpse, the victim of a brutal murder. The suspect, who claims he was drunk, can’t remember where he buried the body. As night wears on, details about the murder emerge and the investigators’ own secrets come to light. In the Anatolian steppes nothing is what it seems; and when the body is found, the real questions begin’.

Read Anthony Quinn’s 5 star review of the film in The Independent here (no major spoilers).