Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology

A Case of Auteur Cinema in a Changed Cultural Context: "Funny Games" (1997) and "Funny Games, US" (2007) by Michael Haneke

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology

A Case of Auteur Cinema in a Changed Cultural Context: "Funny Games" (1997) and "Funny Games, US" (2007) by Michael Haneke

Article excerpt

Abstract

The article is a case study of a cross-cultural auteur film-remake by Michael Haneke of his earlier film: Funny Games, US (2007) and Funny Games (Austria 1997), that is a part of a PhD project devoted to the cross-cultural film remakes. The case of the Funny Games, US although an exact frame-by-frame repetition, shows a significant alteration of meanings that arise out of the changed cultural context a remade film is destined to operate in. The different set of ideas and historical experiences modify a seemingly universal for the Western culture problem the film attempts to discuss with. Through cultural, hermeneutical analysis of a particular basic assumptions the films' discourse is formed on, the author shows how given points lose their adequacy and relevance leading to a final failure of the communication process and a lack of expected reaction to the US-version-of-the-film's efforts at provoking a serious debate.

Keywords

Film remakes, cross-cultural remakes, cultural context of a meaning

This paper is a case study, a part of a wider project investigating various strategies employed in a process of a cross-cultural remaking of films. The process of transferring a film across borders relays on a transfer of the narrative, that requires modifications of elements of a structure and meaning to a new cultural environment. Particular authors employ various means of translation, whose final effects stem from an exact copy, as in a case of the Funny Games U.S., to changes pertaining to a cultural background (The Departed 2006), to vast modifications of every layer of a film structure (The Pathfinder 2007). The analysis of the practice fosters numerous theoretical questions that are much beyond a scope of this paper, whose intention is to present one specific example of transformations of a meaning in a changed cultural context, or - more precisely - the alterations that arise out of a different role particular elements start to play in 'an ongoing pattern of life' (Geertz 1973: p. 17) of the new sphere.

The cross-cultural remakes are present in a history of the cinema from its earliest beginnings (Anna Karenina: 1911 France, 1914 Russia, 1915 US, etc.; Bel Ami: 1938 Germany, 1947 US; Beloved Vagabond: 1916 France, UK 1923, US 1936; Bluebeard: 1901 France, 1909 US, etc.; Cabinet of Doctor Calighari: Germany 1919, US 1962; Carmen: Spain 1910, US 1912, and later many others; Chicago: France 1927, US 1942, etc.; Le Corbeau: France 1948, US 1951; Dante's Inferno: Italy 1911, US 1924, etc.; Beggar's Opera: Germany 1930, US 1953, etc.; and numerous others - see Druxman 1975). The longevity of that tradition has been also demonstrated by numerous examples of films made in recent years, like Vanilla Sky by Cameron Crowe (2001, based on the Abre Los Ojos by Alejandro Amenabar), The Ring by Gore Verbinsky (2002, from the Hideo Nakata's Ringu), or Insomnia by Christopher Nolan (2002, original directed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg under the same title).

The sole notion of the remake stirred also numerous discussions as of how to define the concept, how to distinguish between influence, citation, and plagiarism in case of unacknowledged remakes, where to set borders between paraphrasing, allusion, pastiche and "natural" source of finding similar dramatic solutions, how to locate the remake within a wider spectrum of the industry routine, like the sequels, cycles, and series, prompting the emergence of hybrids (Neale 2000), or what is a difference between the remake and adaptation (Verevis 2006). The answers to these questions vary and are determined by the methodology employed by particular scholars, what however arises no special doubt is a necessity of carrying on the analysis not only on a layer of the films' textual and structural specificity, but in a wider cultural context. The important components of this context are production and industry determinants (copyright law, tendency to minimize risk of a new production and to lower the production costs), external environment (processes of film promotion and reviewing, film criticism, film academies), as well as general film competence of the audience and ways of shaping it (Verevis 2006). …

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