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Posted August 02, 2011 to photo album "Déjà vu"
In adapting the Israeli thriller <em>Ha-Hov</em> into <em>The Debt</em>, John Madden enters the cinematic tradition of remaking foreign language films for English-speaking audiences. We look at some of the best foreign language adaptations, from transforming Kurosawa into a American western to popularizing Japanese horror.
Let the Right One In (2008) to Let Me In (2010)
When it was announced in 2008 that Cloverfield director Matt Reeves was to direct a remake of Tomas Alfredson's idiosyncratic vampire coming-of-age movie Let the Right One In, the reaction from the online film community ranged from concern to outright disgust. Fans of the film, a buzz title on the festival circuit that year, felt that Reeves was showing incredible disrespect, as Alfredson's film had not even been released theatrically in the U.S. yet. A dark, nuanced and highly original story of a socially awkward Swedish teen who befriends the shy girl next door – who just happens to be a centuries-old vampire – Alfredson's movie, adapted from a book by John Ajvide Lindqvist, was notable because the central relationship is treated very seriously, with the blood-hungry Eli portrayed as a complex, troubled character who is burdened by the secret of who she really is. “I wrote Lindqvist and told him that it wasn't just that I was drawn to the story because it was a brilliant genre story – which it is – but also because of the personal aspect of it,” said Reeves in a 2010 interview. “It really reminds me of my childhood.” Reeves planned to go back to the book and to resist making his film, Let Me In, a straightforward remake, ultimately describing it as “a mixture of details from the book, the original film and things that grew out of adapting it.” When Let Me In was released, there was an outpouring of critical support, and Reeves' movie surprised everyone by overcoming people's prejudices and becoming of the best-reviewed pictures of the year. “The story holds a few surprises,” wrote A.O. Scott in the New York Times, “but what makes Let Me In so eerily fascinating is the mood it creates. It is at once artful and unpretentious, more interested in intimacy and implication than in easy scares or slick effects. ...With Let Me In the director demonstrates, in addition to impressive horror movie chops, a delicate sensitivity and a low-key visual wit.” Possibly the most delighted was Lindqvist, who told HitFix, “I might just be the luckiest writer alive. To have not only one, but two excellent versions of my debut novel done for the screen feels unreal. Let the Right One In is a great Swedish movie. Let Me In is a great American movie. There are notable similarities and the spirit of Tomas Alfredson is present. But Let Me In puts the emotional pressure in different places and stands firmly on its own legs. Like the Swedish movie it made me cry, but not at the same points. Let Me In is a dark and violent love story, a beautiful piece of cinema and a respectful rendering of my novel for which I am grateful. Again.” Interestingly Tomas Alfredson follow up to Let the Right One In is an English-language remake of sorts. Alfredson’s upcoming adaptation of John le Carré’s classic spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was first made into BBC mini-series in 1979.