Top 5 Remakes of All Time

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00:00   |   Nov 07, 2017


Top 5 Remakes of All Time
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  • We know it's practically human nature to complain about remakes,
  • especially those ham-fisted profit grabs that feel like they're going to forever
  • tarnish an original sheen.
  • But sometimes, filmmakers get it right on the second take.
  • These are our picks for the five best remakes of all time.
  • [MUSIC]
  • We figured the best way to organize a tour of all the best remakes is to
  • start at the height of similarity and faithfulness and
  • then descend into the unfaithful masses.
  • So first up, we want to take a look at one of the more rare and
  • exotic species, as faithful as it gets.
  • The shot-for-shot remake, where the script is exactly the same, and so
  • is pretty much everything else, down to each individual angle and movement and
  • shot and cut and fade.
  • And here, we don't have that many to pick from.
  • 1952's Prisoner of Zenda is a color updating that's nearly identical, but
  • worse for it.
  • 1931's Dracula features an identical Spanish language version,
  • shot on the exact same sets at night,
  • while the English language version was shot during the day.
  • And Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation is a seven-year labor of
  • love by a bunch of Mississippi teens that is genuinely enjoyable, and
  • we're not kidding.
  • However, when it comes to serious shot-for-shot contenders,
  • there's really only two films we could pick.
  • One is Gus Van Sant's Psycho, which updates to color, deviates only slightly,
  • adds some questionable sound effects, but largely recreates the 1960 original.
  • And the other, and our first pick, is Funny Games,
  • where Michael Haneke completely remade his Austrian thriller as identically as
  • possible in English ten years later. >> Okay, we bet.
  • [FOREIGN] >> All three of you are going to
  • be [LAUGH] Kaput. >> What?
  • [FOREIGN] >> And we bet that you'll be dead.
  • [FOREIGN] >> You think they stand a chance?
  • [FOREIGN] >> So,
  • sure, remaking a masterpiece in order to try to understand it makes sense.
  • Gus Van Sant got a studio to pay for the best possible form of film school.
  • And so does wanting to put yourself in the shoes of your idol,
  • playing make believe as Indiana Jones.
  • And changing a language for
  • a foreign market is a good move from a profit perspective.
  • But Michael Haneke is a no commercial hack.
  • He's an auteur who makes movies intended to make people think.
  • So the question is, why?
  • And the truth is, he doesn't seem to give a damn about the money.
  • When he made the original German language film, he had apparently intended it to
  • reach English language audiences where, he has said, its message was really needed.
  • But then it didn't.
  • It languished in the Austrian art house and then disappeared.
  • So when he had an opportunity to remake it in English with Naomi Watts,
  • he accepted and set himself one more challenge.
  • Make the exact same film under entirely different circumstances,
  • without changing a thing, even if he might want to.
  • Which makes this very interesting film into a very interesting remake, but
  • one that just might accomplish his goal.
  • Once you move away from the limitations of shot for
  • shot, you get tons of filmmakers remaking a film with
  • pretty much the same script in just about the same way all the time.
  • And it's not even just today.
  • People like to bemoan how no one's making original content anymore, and
  • everything is a remake nowadays.
  • But as long as movies have been movies, this has always been the case.
  • Did you know that The Wizard of Oz is actually a remake?
  • And The Maltese Falcon, and Ben-Hur, and pretty faithful ones at that.
  • Hollywood has always milked the money cow.
  • But don't worry, clever filmmakers aren't going to stop sneaking good
  • originals past the gatekeepers this year either.
  • And it's not so rare that filmmakers remake their own movies either, and
  • not always with the restrictions of Haneke.
  • Sometimes they just want to take a second stab at a story they care about because
  • they want to get it right.
  • This is Hitchcock with The Man Who Knew Too Much, and
  • Cecil B DeMille with the Ten Commandments, and Ozu with his Floating Weeds.
  • And it's our next pick, Michael Mann's Heat, which you probably didn't even know
  • was a remake of his own LA Takedown. >> You see me doing thrill
  • seeker liquor store holdups? >> With a Born to Lose tattoo on my
  • chest? >> No,
  • I do not. >> Right.
  • >> I am never going back.
  • >> Don't take down Scores.
  • >> That's my job.
  • >> I do what I do best.
  • >> Take down Scores.
  • You do what you do best. >> Try to stop guys like me.
  • >> LA Takedown was trimmed from
  • the original, unproduced Heat script to a 90-minute NBC TV pilot that wasn't even
  • picked up, instead, getting released as a unremarkable TV movie.
  • And yeah, it lost a number of turns and subplots, but
  • the resemblance is crystal clear.
  • And six years later, Micheal Mann picked back up his original script,
  • remembered why he loved it, and decided to give it a proper go.
  • And the result is Heat, battle tested and
  • rapid prototyped into a well-oiled crime thriller machine.
  • It's actually fascinating to see what amounts to a public rough draft.
  • We're so often blind to everything but the final product and
  • a few carefully selected behind-the-scenes featurettes.
  • But LA Takedown shows us Mann's work in progress.
  • We get to see what a difference a few years and $75 million makes.
  • And you can track some of his directorial ideas as they emerge and
  • develop and refine.
  • Not just as he reacts to flaws and fixes them,
  • but also as he takes his successes and pushes them one step further.
  • [MUSIC]
  • Moving on to number three, we hit a remake middle ground,
  • a film that takes the same story, but just interprets it differently.
  • It covers all the same plot points, but with a totally new flavor.
  • These are films like Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven updating of the Brat Pack original,
  • Down and Out in Beverly Hills' take on Renoir's classic.
  • The Ring's big-budget Americanization of Ringu, Scorsese's versions of Cape Fear
  • and Infernal Affairs, De Palma's version of Scarface and
  • Birdcage, True Grit, True Lies, and the Jungle Book.
  • However, when it comes to balancing a familiar story with new brilliance,
  • nothing does it quite like Nosferatu: The Vampyre.
  • [MUSIC]
  • >> Please, let me do it.
  • It's the oldest remedy in the world. >> Forget it,
  • it's hardly worth mentioning, just a little cut.
  • [SOUND] >> Having declared Mernau's
  • 1922 Nosferatu to be the most important film in German history,
  • Herzog set out to pay homage to the masterpiece with a remake.
  • And while the content is nearly identical on paper, the effect is wildly different.
  • Herzog’s sound and color and dialogue and shooting and casting transmute the source
  • material from high-contrast Impressionism into a languid, dreadful Gothic realism.
  • He delivers difference where it's meaningful and
  • stays faithful where it matters.
  • And, god, could there be any better actor to give Max Schreck's
  • vampire a second take and a voice than Klaus Kinski?
  • It's not just one of those rare sorts of remakes that holds up next to its
  • original, but the even rarer sort that leaves room for
  • them both to be masterpieces, both inter and independently.
  • [MUSIC]
  • Moving even further away from Funny Games's shot accuracy,
  • our next remakes dispense with the story and keep only the premise.
  • The changes are bold and
  • sweeping, imaginative re-envisionings of tired tales.
  • His Girl Friday takes The Front Page's screwball comedy and
  • morphs it into a romance by pulling a gender swap.
  • The Little Shop of Horrors musically casts a 1960s B movie.
  • Dawn of the Dead dispenses with almost everything but the zombies and the mall.
  • And Romero + Juliet updates Shakespeare in a visionary way, but not for
  • the first time or the last.
  • We've talked often about A Fistful of Dollars and The Magnificent Seven, and
  • how they're wonderful Samurai film westernizations.
  • And while The Fly is a fantastic radical retake of a 50's horror film concept,
  • there's nothing quite like the way The Thing did it.
  • [SOUND]
  • Both John Carpenter's remake and
  • the Howard Hawks-produced original, The Thing from Another World,
  • pull from the same John Campbell sci-fi novella.
  • Both follow a team of all-male researchers in a remote Arctic lab,
  • and both kick off with a crash-landed alien encounter.
  • But that is where the similarities end.
  • The original's Thing is a vegetable life form that can regrow from
  • any individual part of itself, only to be killed by fire.
  • While the remake's is a cellular shapeshifter that can take on the form of
  • any one or many crew members or animals near indistinguishably.
  • And from this one small change springs forth a fountain of difference.
  • A monolithic enemy is traded for an indistinguishable one.
  • Where the original is a monument to American cooperation and pulling together,
  • the remake is a fever dream of paranoia and mistrust.
  • A simple swap in the mechanics of the Thing sets off
  • a butterfly effect of changes that add up to this hurricane of a remake.
  • And finally, on the last stop of our tour, we get to those films that can be
  • considered remakes in only the loosest of senses.
  • So sure, they used an existing film as a starting point.
  • But whatever it is that happened between there and
  • the finish line involved something from a whole other universe.
  • This is the Good, the Bad, and the Weird in place of the Ugly, or the Last House on
  • the Left's exploitation remake of Bergman's artful The Virgin Spring.
  • It's the Lion King as a loose remake of the Hamlet story, or
  • Herzog's one other remake, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
  • It's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Sukiyaki Western Django.
  • But for our final pick, we think there's a clear winner here.
  • And it's gotta be Terry Gilliam's
  • incredible remake of
  • the French short La Jetée as
  • 1995's Twelve Monkeys.
  • [FOREIGN] >> We're not productive anymore.
  • They don't need us to make things anymore, it's all automated.
  • What are we for then?
  • We're consumers.
  • Yeah, okay, okay, buy a lot of stuff, you're a good citizen.
  • But if you don't buy a lot of stuff, if you don't, what are you then, I ask, what?
  • Mentally ill, fact, Jim, fact.
  • If you don't buy things, toilet paper, new cars, computerized blenders,
  • electrically-operated sexual devices, stereo systems and
  • brain implanted headphones, screwdrivers, miniature built-in radar devices,
  • voice activated computers. >> Take it easy,
  • Jeffrey, be calm. >> La Jetée is
  • a short black-and-white French film composed almost entirely of
  • a slideshow of still photographs projected over a simple voiceover narration.
  • And Twelve Monkeys is, well, Terry Gilliam.
  • And while the seed of the premise is preserved, a brilliant time travel loop to
  • rekindle an apocalyptic world that closes back in on itself.
  • It takes on two such radically different forms that the shared lineage is all but
  • indiscernible.
  • But they are both visionary and avant garde and hypnotic in their own ways,
  • calmly and quietly or colorfully and madly.
  • And there's something fitting about the time travel remake, about a film that
  • turns back to a celluloid impression of yesteryear like a memory.
  • And attempts to refashion it in a new image that rebirths a cinematic moment
  • since past.
  • And this is something that makes Gilliam's wild remix a more than worthwhile journey,
  • which is why we think that it's one of the best remakes of all time.
  • All right, those are our picks.
  • Let us know what you think about them.
  • Did we leave out some of your favorite remakes?
  • Are all remakes bad no matter what?
  • Is that just a rule you have in your life?
  • That's fine with me.
  • Let us know what you think about them in the comments section down below.
  • And make sure to subscribe to Cinefix for more movie lists

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Top 5 Remakes of All Time

It's almost human nature to complain about remakes, but sometimes you need a second take to get it right. From shot-for-shot remakes to wildly different spins on familiar stories and everything in between, these are the 5 best remakes of all time.

The Picks

Shot-for-shot - Funny Games & Funny Games
Upgrade - LA Takedown & Heat
Same Story, Different Interpretation - Nosferatu & Nosferatu: The Vampyre
Same Premise, New Direction - The Thing From Another World & The Thing
Just the Seed of the Idea - La Jetee & 12 Monkeys

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