Aug 14, 2006
By Kim Tae-jong
What would it be like to see Hollywood stars replacing local actors in new versions of popular domestic movies?
The answer can be found in the upcoming Hollywood film "The Lake House," the first domestic remake film titled "Il Mare (Siwolae)."
With the increasing interest in local movies overseas, international film studios have bought over 20 copyrights to South Korean films since the late 1990s to produce remake versions of them. Most enthusiastic Hollywood studios have bought over 10 domestic movies’ copyrights including "My Sassy Girl," "A Tale of Two Sisters," "Old Boy," "Phone," "My Wife Is a Gangster," "My Teacher, Mr. Kim," "Hi, Dharma!" and "Jail Breakers. "
Overall, the 2002 South Korean film "Il Mare (Siwolae) and "The Lake Hous" have many things in common including their basic storylines, but the original has been adapted in the remake to fit the life in the United States.
The basic storyline portrays a young man who starts communicating by mail with an attractive woman living in the future, and the correspondence develops into an intimate relationship.
But the obvious difference is, of course, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock have replaced Lee Jung-jae and Jun Ji-hyun, respectively.
Alex Wyler (played by Reeves) and Sung-hyun (by Lee) used to be architects, but they both give up their ambition and work as construction works to live against their famous architect fathers, who abandoned their family for fame and success.
Kate Forster (by Bullock) plays a doctor in the remake while Eun-ju (by Jun)’s original character is a professional voice actress.
The couples in both films exchange mails with each other while they live two years apart in time. The remake is set around Valentine’s Day in 2004 and 2006 while the original took place around Christmas in 1997 and 1999, with the story continuing on through the spring time in the following years.
The house in the remake is as beautiful as the one in the original. The architect fathers, who abandoned their family for their fame and success, constructed them. Eventually the two sons find out that the house was actually built for them.
The house in the original is built on a sea shore, which gives it the name "Il Mare," meaning sea in Italian, but the house in the remake sits by the lake. In the remake, "Il Mare" is the name of a restaurant where Kate waits for Alex.
The two movies also use similar filming techniques. The split-screen technique in the two films gives the impression that the characters live in the same time and space when they exchange letters and know about each other.
But the biggest difference lies in the development of the story in the latter part.
In the original, Eun-ju can’t forget her ex-boyfriend and asks Sung-hyun to change the future from his time so that she can maintain her relationship with him. But in the remake, Kate decides to stop corresponding to him as she feels agony about the unstable relationship with him.
Along with "The Lake House," there will be other remake films opening this month _ "The Letter" and "Christmas in August."
The Thailand movie "The Letter" directed by Phaoon Chandrasiri is a remake of the 1997 domestic movie with the same title, and Japanese melodrama "Christmas in August" by Shunichi Nagasaki is a remake of the 1998 film with the same title.
Overall, the two upcoming remakes also follow the original story, but the Thailand’s "The Letter" has less tearjerker scenes than the original, and in the Japanese’s "Christmas in August," the female character is braver, as she confessed her love, than the one in the original.