7 June 2008
FUNNY GAMES (Dir. Michael Haneke, 2007, US) - Why?
Michael Haneke and remake in the same sentence is a tricky proposition, and one that seems unlikely if it was ever mentioned in the column inches of a film magazine, but it did come as a huge surprise when one of the finest and most challenging European film makers working today announced he was going to direct a shot by shot remake of his 1993 film, Funny Games, for an American studio. The is one of the most wholly unnecessary remakes ever made and I have been trying in vain to seek some kind of explanation to the reasons why Haneke would want to tarnish the reputation of his original film. Why remake the same film with a new cast but in a different context for the same kind of intellectual adult audience? Haneke has talked in length about how his new version of Funny Games is simply a shot by shot remake yet he offers no real artistic motivation for having taken such a peculiar decision. I am forced to assume that Haneke either did this for financial reasons or he did so to prove to critics that the ideological content of his films are not culturally specific, and that the issue of violence is a universal one, which of course is true of most themes. Haneke is a master manipulator of the cinematic position of the spectator, and many of his films seem more interested in exploring the relationship between technique and audience identification. However, no such impulse exists in this pointless remake. And I guess that is the main problem with this film - it is ultimately a pointless exercise, and all those involved in this remake should be wondering how this film is in anyway going to extend the kind of sloppy and sentimental cinema being produced by contemporary Hollywood film makers today. Recently, eccentric German director, Werner Herzog committed a similar sin of Hollywood over indulgence with his Vietnam war genre film, Rescue Dawn, a trashy and deeply frustrating film. Haneke should know better than not to mess around with his own critical reputation, and further more by having done this unfortunate remake, he seems to have muted the power of his original 1993 masterpiece.