5 Points In Defense Of American Remakes Of Foreign Language Films


The concept of any particular movie’s “necessity” is something I wish we could eliminate altogether. Every time a movie like Spike Lee’s Oldboy gets released, many critics and viewers will cite how “unnecessary” it is to make an American version of a foreign film that stands on its own and is internationally beloved.

Nevermind the extent to which any work of art is perceived as necessary or needed, especially when it comes to Hollywood movies, which are regarded as anything from distracting spectacle to moving or inspiring storytelling. Forget even the fact that reinterpretation and reimagining and reworking is arguably the basis of all creation, and that musical covers and hip hop sampling and narrative appropriation are all staples of modern artistic expression. What irks me the most is that this position, that remaking a foreign movie into an Americanized version is a purely cynical and lazy endeavor meant to exploit a populace that can only stomach dumbed down stories, has almost become conventional wisdom, and is patently absurd.

It’s true that an American version of a movie will likely have a broader appeal in America than if it originates from another national source. I’m just trying to figure out why, exactly, this is so offensive to people, to the point that they dismiss the work of a highly respectable filmmaker on those grounds alone. Then again, I don’t find broadening and expanding the appreciation of a story or work of art any more insidious than an appreciation for something simply because it’s obscure or exotic.

There are legitimate reasons to find American remakes more satisfying than their foreign language source material. Here are 5 of them.

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