Friday, November 12, 2010

It's Friday!

Wait, actually it's Wednesday in my world. Yep. I'm preposting.

I've been hanging onto this post topic for a few weeks actually. You all know I'm a huge horror fan: My rental queue is packed with zombies, slashers, ghosts, etc. So it wouldn't come as any surprise that I was stoked to see John Lindqvist's Let Me In coming out back in 2007. A Scandinavian vampire book. What could be better?

I've never reviewed the book here (I mentioned earlier this week - and you can see by the sidebar - that I'd started blogging in Feb '08 so the book had already been out a few months at that point), though I did review it for Bookbitch.com and you can see that I liked the book alright. I thought the translation was great and that Lindqvist was an obvious talent. What I didn't mention was the fact that I didn't find the book to be that much of a horror. Certainly horrific and graphically violent with some really twisted and perverse characters, but not true horror. I felt it was more of a dramatic piece.

I've seen the 2008 Swedish film, screenplay by Lindqvist himself, and I saw the American remake opening week. I did make a few observations. First, while both movies make a valiant effort at following the book, and do so quite effectively, the book is much more disturbing. And the American version of the film is slightly more appealing to me than the Swedish in terms of movies in general.

It's interesting, because I find that where books can be very graphic, movies tend to be on the safer side here in the States. (Not the case in Sweden where they definitely don't pull the punches.) I think seeing some of these things on the big screen is still very taboo for American audiences and as someone who watches a lot of violent films, I still kind of agree that some aspects of the book weren't necessary for the feature film. When you're editing for time, certain side stories and elements have to be cut. But I thought it was interesting that Eli's partner is toned down in the Swedish film as well. His story is pretty much cut. And his story is one of the most disturbing parts of the book.

Another interesting change was in the character of Oskar/Owen. The Swedish actor plays the part closer to what I imagined in the book -- a boy with some pretty twisted psychological tendencies. The actor in the US version was easier to sympathize with.

While I don't find it necessary to remake every popular foreign film for American audiences -- I'm perfectly happy seeing foreign films -- from a cultural standpoint, I do find it really interesting to compare and contrast the various versions. If you've seen the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for example, there are some very violently graphic scenes in the film -- again, they don't pull punches, these scenes are straight from the book -- and I'm very curious to see how they'll be treated in the upcoming US film.

I am also curious to see the characters as they're portrayed by different actors. The boys in the two versions of Let the Right One In aka Let Me In, effectively changed the tone of the story in my eyes. Noomi Rapace, who plays Lisbeth in the Swedish versions of Larsson's films, owns that character. To see her in real life is to see a completely different person. I'm not certain that will be replicated in a way that really works on screen here. We'll have to wait and see, though. I have a much easier time picturing Daniel Craig as Michael Nyqvist. Rooney Mara has big shoes to fill, though.

Anyway, I've rambled on long enough. A couple of other comparisons you can make, if you're interested:

Germany's 2001 Das Experiment starring the amazing Moritz Bleibtreu was recently adapted in the US (The Experiment) with Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker starring. I'm a huge fan of the German film, but haven't seen the US version just yet.

The US version of The Eye was a throwaway in my opinion.

The Vanishing from 1993 with Kiefer Sutherland is a pretty good adaptation of the Dutch, 1988 Spoorloos, if I recall correctly. Worth seeing both.

There's more on Wikipedia here.


Tez Miller said...

Actually, an Australian actor played Owen, but that's just semantics ;-)

Becky LeJeune said...

Thanks for pointing that out! I did refer to him as the American actor. I think I've fixed it now.