Remaking a film classic is always a difficult task. Just because a movie was successful is no guarantee that a remake will also be a hit. Take the 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It was a disaster critically, and it bombed at the box office. Yet, Hollywood continues to recycle old material. There was Poseidon (The Poseidon Adventure) in 2006, The Stepford Wives in 2004, and Madonna’s truly abysmal Swept Away in 2002. These were real stinkers. In truth, the bad remakes far outnumber the good ones (True Grit 1969 and 2010, Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 and 1978).

The Stepford Wives (1975)

Last night, das Erste presented Sechzehneichen (Sixteen Oaks), another remake of The Stepford Wives (1975). The original film, starring Katherine Ross, Paula Prentiss, and Tina Louise, was of its time: the lure of suburbia, the rise of feminism, and the dangers of uncontrolled technologically. It’s difficult to see how another version would work in 2012. Yet, it does, and it works quiet well. 

Directed by Hendrik Handloegten, Sechzehneichen, is one of the most visually fascinating movies I have seen. The imagines are both real and dreamlike, and the carefully synchronized musical score by Radio Heads adds to the terror and suspense. This version pars down the narrative and focuses on the couple’s relationship. Handloegten delves into the sexual motivations behind this “ideal” community, and challenges the viewer with the questions: How does society deal with the rapidly changing roles of men and women, and does sexual equality threaten the “liberated” man?

If only American TV (or American movies for that matter) could make something half as good as this. Sechzehneichen can be viewed on the Internet for a limited time. Go to das Erste and click on Mediathek. Even if you don’t understand German, it’s worth a peak.