An artist on the path to constant improvement often feels the urge to rework a finished piece. A fresh eye can see problems that had previously escaped attention, possibly because one was too close to the work to see even obvious defects. This certainly applies to filmmakers. Very few have the chance to completely remake the whole thing from start to finish. But this was the opportunity presented to Dutch filmmaker, Georges Sluizer when US producers approached him to create a new, English language version of his acclaimed film, "The Vanishing" or "Spoorloos" to give it the correct Dutch title; a unique opportunity to improve on the original. Did he succeed? To judge from nearly all the critics, the answer is a resounding no. The Hollywood version is dismissed as a poor imitation of the original at best and a total travesty at worst. Is the criticism justified or is it just a snobby attitude that automatically assumes European cultural superiority over Hollywood crassness, or did Sluizer sacrifice the integrity he had brought to the first version? The producers felt that American audiences would not accept the ending as it stood. As a result, the film received the most formulaic of endings, destroying the mood and underlying creepiness that made the original so disturbing. Jeff Bridges character, Barney Cousins, begins by experimenting with chloroform to see how long it takes to render someone unconscious. Bridges plays Barney as an eccentric character – far more mannered than his opposite number in the Dutch version played by Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu. A young couple enters the story, Jeff Harriman and Diane Shaver, played by Keifer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock. They are travelling up the coast together and bicker constantly, creating the hot and cold relationship that was so effective in the original. After a number of incidents, they pull into a gas station. When Diane goes to the bathroom, she never returns. Jeff calls the police but Diane has vanished. Three years elapse and Jeff has never given up hope of finding Diane. He meets a waitress, Rita played by Nancy Travis, and they move in together. However, Jeff is still obsessed with finding Diane and Rita decides to leave. In the meantime, Barney sees Jeff on television. He eventually approaches Jeff and tells him that he was the person who abducted Diane. Barney receives a beating, but tells Jeff that the only way he will find out what happened to Diane is to go with him and be drugged, duplicating the way Diane was abducted. Jeff's need to know overrides all else and he agrees. He awakens to find himself buried alive; the fate that befell Diane. And that is where things were left in the original – an uncompromisingly bleak ending. Not so in the remake. The last part of "The Vanishing" is not only changed physically but also symbolically from the harrowing ending of Sluizer's original. In fact, the ending is no longer harrowing; it's just predictable and pedestrian. The new version has Rita arriving in the nick of time to save Jeff. The film ends on a light-hearted note when Rita and Jeff both refuse a cup of coffee, having given up the beverage after experiencing Barney's thermos of laced coffee. Sluizer must have felt compelled to accept an ending that was so standard and safe that good work generated in other areas of the remake went for nothing – but maybe it all goes back to the decision to redo it in the first place; "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
Drama / Horror / Mystery / Thriller
Drama / Horror / Mystery / Thriller
The boyfriend of an abducted woman never gives up the search as the abductor looks on.
Downloaded 24,923 times
May 14, 2019