Old Foreign is New Again
To the entertainment writers and movie critics who have grown cynical in the face of the seemingly endless stream of sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots hitting theaters these days, the recent news that Charlize Theron will be starring in an English-language remake of Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is just another sign that Hollywood is fresh out of ideas. However, according to the writer of the adaptation, William Monahan — who took the already exceptionally good Chinese crime thriller Infernal Affairs and turned it into a script worthy of Martin Scorsese and the Academy called The Departed — that couldn't be further from the truth:
[Screenwriting is] the only popular literary form we’ve got left. Adaptation is a very traditional and honorable endeavor in writing for dramatic performance, and if people don’t know that it leads to a hell of a lot of originality and invention in the right hands, well, I’m not going to provide a reading list."
Monohan describes screenwriting as "drama in English" and said foreign movie remakes are the equivalent of Shakespeare taking foreign stories and doing his own "departures from the material." While we have a hard time comparing the vast majority of foreign movie remakes to Shakespeare, there have been several exceptional ones over the years and even a few that managed to surpass the foreign originals. Turn off the subtitles and help us choose the best English-language adaptations of foreign movies.
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