They say imitation is the best form of flattery--but what is it when you are imitating yourself? Shot by shot? This is the case with German filmmaker Michael Haneke (Cache) and his upcoming ten-year anniversary, shot-for-shot remake of his 1998 film Funny Games. You could say this is his "American" version, with more recognizable actors (Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet), which in this age of imports/exports (Infernal Affairs/Departed anyone?) makes perfect sense. Plus Warner Independent no doubt is keen on trying out a Euro-intellectual iteration of the Saw genre. So why not? Just because Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of Psycho didn't work out so well, doesn't mean Haneke won't have success.
In any case, it'll be interesting to see how American audiences respond to Haneke's film (coming out March 14), which is essentially a self-reflexive study in film spectatorship. It's less about violence and terror and torture as it is about the cinema's treatment of those subjects and our attraction/repulsion to them. It's totally over-the-top and trying for any audience with a conscious, which is exactly the point Haneke is trying to make. Whether it's a point we need to see again, is another question. For what it's worth, however, the new version's trailer is stunning... and it mirrors the German version in many ways. Take a look:
Here's the trailer for the upcoming 2008 version:
And here's the trailer for the 1997 version: