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Updated August 02, 2011
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.
Ha-Hov (2007) to The Debt (2010)
The Debt with Ciarán Hinds and Helen Mirren (photo: Laurie Sparham); Ha Hov, inset.
When Kris Thykier, one of the producers of The Debt, first saw the 2007 film Ha-Hov, he immediately recognized its potential. Director Assaf Bernstein's Israeli thriller, about three Mossad agents and the secrets they carry with them from a mission in East Berlin in the 1960s, was a compelling movie that had been nominated for four Ophir Awards (Israel's equivalent of the Oscars), but had failed to gain considerable audience traction internationally. “It was a spectacular story, and brilliantly acted,” says Thykier. “I did feel that there was an opportunity for a little more complexity and scale; I saw the potential of making a smart thriller that would be relevant to – and entertaining for – a world audience.” Thykier brought the idea of remaking Ha-Hov to writer-director-producer Matthew Vaughn, who in turn penned a screenplay adaptation with his writing partner, Jane Goldman, and then brought John Madden on board to direct the film. And thus, The Debt came into existence. Madden's smart, engaging movie is part of a tradition of high quality remakes. In following slideshow, we look at some remarkable examples of this genre, from John Sturges' 1960 The Magnificent Seven all the way up to Matt Reeves' Let Me In, by way of such diverse treats as Blake Edwards' cross-dressing musical Victor Victoria and Martin Scorsese's tough crime thriller The Departed.