Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Imitation Films & American Influence in the EU

by Erik A. Ramirez

Film remakes are created for several different reasons and in this case we will focus specifically on the relationship between American, French, and other European film remakes. From our readings we have learned that media is a very powerful “tool of communication with personal, national, and global frames” and in cinematography media plays the same important role (Media Lecture: 9/21/10). The media is very influential in American, French, and other European films and through the comparison of the original films: “Winnie the Pooh”, Trois Homes et un Coffin, “The Office” (UK) and their remakes we will better understand how much American media influence there really is in France and other European countries.

Films have been remade for decades and is not something uncommon. Film remakes are made for several different reasons including social changes and cultural differences which both apply to this topic. “Winnie the Pooh” is an American original that started in the early 1920s. In 1966 Winnie the Pooh was made into a film and the character grew to a phenomenon that media helped globalize. Later in 1969 the Soviet Union created their own version known as Vinni Pukh. In these two films we see the effects of the strong and influential American media. Advertisement of Winnie the Pooh made the character known worldwide attracting the attention of many. In the United States “Winnie the Pooh” proved to be a success amongst Americans and one can argue that logically the Soviet Union decided to copy this film in search of the same results. The characters of Pooh and Pukh are very different in these two versions. The American Pooh is regarded as a more endearing teddy bear than the Soviet Pukh, not to say that Pukh is not endearing or lovable. “Vinni Pukh… is a take charge-bear, a thinking-bear…the unpolished style of Vinni Pukh actually adds to the animation. You get a sense that with the lack of a big Disney production house budget, the Russian animators had to use charm and wit to create a good piece” (www.squidoo.com). Here we can see how big American media really is because it was able to spread the film of Winnie the Pooh globally but not no one could recreate their own “Winnie the Pooh” as huge as it was in the United States. Although the United States has very influential media this does not mean that there are no American remakes?

Many argue that the United States has the most influential media in the world but the US also copies others. In the French film Trois Hommes et un Coffin of 1985 we see a story of three grown men trying to raise a baby girl who very unexpectedly appeared in their lives. The film was nominated for the American Academy award for Best Foreign Language Film and received three French Caesar Awards (Wikipedia.com, Three Men and a Baby). French cinematography has always been very well known and respected on its own, yet American films have always been something to compete against. In this case the United States made a remake of Trois Hommes et un Coffin two years later in 1987 and it was called “Three Men and a Baby”, an almost a perfect translation. This remake turned out to be a huge success in the United States leading its way to the number one movie of 1987 and made $167,780,960.00 in the United States alone (www.imbd.com). These two films are a huge example of what is produced from media in different countries with an original film and a remake. While both films were successful the American remake completely blew away the French original which we can argue was because of the strong and powerful media the United States has.

The next example also demonstrates the strong influence American media has on the film industry of France and other European countries. Although “The Office” is a United Kingdom original series, it wasn’t until after the United States took on their own version The Office in 2005 that other European countries like France and Germany decided to do the same. “The Office” (UK) first came out in 2001 and had two seasons of six episodes each before it came to an end. At one point the show was almost to be cancelled because of low ratings (wikipedia.com). The American version of The Office has had seven seasons and has had a huge success in the United States and worldwide. Now France came up with Le Bureau which is also a remake of “The Office” but for French audiences and the French culture. Germany did the same with their showed being called “Stromberg” which is also specifically focused on its culture. The several remakes of The Office by the United States and other European countries demonstrates Theodor Adorno’s “culture industry” because we see how one country started a television series that was imitated by the United States where it was loved by the audiences and this created a chain reaction of other countries imitating the same show to also keep their people content as Adorno says culture industry does (“The Culture Industry”).

The strong influence that American media has had on France and Europe is clear to see. It is evident through European film remakes of American originals like “Winnie the Pooh” and through extremely successful American remakes of French films like Trois Hommes et un Coffin. We can easily see how influential American media is by observing how France and other European countries have followed in American media footsteps to try to stay in the loop of entertainment and media as a whole.

1 comment: