Insomnia, showing today and tomorrow on AMC, is a stylish thriller starring the unusual pair of Al Pacino as a sleep-deprived cop and Robin Williams as the writer-turned-murderer playing head games with him. You may be surprised to learn that it’s a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, but you shouldn’t be. Hollywood has a long history of fishing for inspiration in movies from other countries, and the pace has picked up in recent years: the more adept filmmakers in other countries become at mimicking American movies, the more remake potential they have for Hollywood.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Hollywood was particularly fond of remaking French comedies: 3 Men and a Baby, Blame It on Rio, Cousins, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Fathers’ Day, Happy New Year, Jungle 2 Jungle, Mixed Nuts, My Father the Hero, Nine Months, Oscar, Pure Luck, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, The Associate, The Birdcage, The Man with One Red Shoe, The Toy, The Woman in Red, and Three Fugitives were all based on Gallic successes.
And of course one of the biggest trends in horror films recently has been to remake Asian horror films, like Ring, The Grudge, Dark Water and Pulse. This hasn’t exactly slowed down, but many of these remakes now go direct to DVD.
Some other recent films that started their lives in other countries:
The Departed, from Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs.
Scent of a Woman, from Italy’s Profumo di Donna
The Lake House, from South Korea’s Siworae
Vanilla Sky, from Spain’s Abre Los Ojos
Twelve Monkeys, from France’s La Jetee
Without Reservation, from Germany’s Mostly Martha
Unfaithful, from France’s La Femme Infidele
Fever Pitch, from the British film of the same name (but substituting baseball for soccer)
True Lies, from France’s La Totale!