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7 Blockbusters Rewritten By Charlie Kaufman

 

Hollywood head surrealist Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York arrives in cinemas this Friday.

It depicts another brain-stretching reconfiguration of the world, with Philip Seymour Hoffman's sadsack theatre director recreating New York inside a New York warehouse. Or something.

So what would Hollywood's straightest and most conventional hits look like if they had been penned by Charlie?

Die Hard (1988)

The original: Grimy New York Cop gets caught up in a terrorist siege of a corporate tower block during a Christmas visit to see his wife in Los Angeles. He sneaks through the building taking the bad guys down one at a time.

The Kaufman version: After the building is taken over by terrorists, detective John McClane uses the elevator to out-manoeuvre a pair of gunmen but finds himself stuck on floor 7½.

Investigating, he finds a portal which delivers him into the mind of head baddie Hans Gruber.

Here, he enjoys the sensation of having a beard for a few minutes before forcing Gruber to throw himself off the top floor and ejecting from his brain at the last second.
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Jurassic Park (1993)

The original: A theme park is populated by dinosaurs genetically resurrected from DNA extracted from mosquitos trapped in amber. It all goes wrong and raptors escape and chase endearing children and tough scientists across the park.

The Kaufman version: The whole film is retold from the amber-trapped mosquito’s perspective, using a constant, near-impenetrable orange filter.

From the jittery vantage point of the top of Dickie Attenborough’s cane, there's barely any action at all, just a slightly out-of-focus shot of the ageing British actor's maverick John Hammond sitting in the corner of a room weeping and shouting, "What have I done?"
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Home Alone (1990)

The original: A precocious youngster is left behind by family on a Christmas vacation to Europe.

While alone, the boy must not only fend for himself but also defend his house from invasion by a pair of non-threatening, slapstick thieves.

The Kaufman version: Thieves attempt to rob the house of little Kevin McCallister but upon entering, find they have passed through into some kind of temporal/spatial state that mirrors Kevin's pre-adolescent consciousness.

Yes, a bit like in the second episode of the Twilight Zone movie.

Kevin defends his ‘house’ using terrifying actualisations of his subconscious preoccupations: a giant naked lady, Hulk Hogan as triplet commandos from space, and a monster made from cheese pizza.
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Forrest Gump (1994)

The original: A backward innocent misunderstands life in a slightly painful-to-watch fashion.

Despite this, he entangles himself in the major events and figures of the 20th century, including fighting in Vietnam and meeting several Presidents.

The Kaufman version:
There are two Forrest Gumps - twins marked by opposing personalities.

One is the lovable plank winding a path through history, the other an evil sociopath impersonating his brother to cause great evil.

Evil Forrest assassinates Kennedy, murders his whole platoon in Vietnam, and invests in Microsoft.

Real Forrest looks on hopelessly, his incessant weeping endlessly looped and echoing in the background of the soundtrack.
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Top Gun (1986)

The original: Arrogant ace fighter pilots are brought together at a top military flight school to play beach volleyball and sing together with their tops off in an entirely heterosexual way.

Some disagreements occur, but everything is patched up when Russians arrive and need to be shot.

The Kaufman version: The story takes place in an alternative-history America where everyone is gay.

At an ace flight school, top students Maverick and Ice Man develop a healthy love affair, but Maverick can’t stop himself from falling into a forbidden romance with his female flight instructor, Charlie (Kelly McGillis).

He then goes through a metaphorical/metaphysical space-time portal manifested in Ice Man's hairstyle and is transported to an alternative alternative-history America where everyone is gay and Russian.

With hilarious, and confusing, results.
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Independence Day (1996)

The original: The Earth is visited by giant hovering alien ships.

After a period of inactivity it emerges they are not friendly, so a pilot, a tech geek and the US President are sent up in a crashed alien ship to defeat them.

The Kaufman version:
Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum fly into the alien spaceship and deliver a virus into their computer which somehow genetically re-encodes the entire invading species into a race of Will Smith clones.

They leave Earth, grinning and rapping about Cuba.

They never, ever invade another planet again, but are sad they can’t get more serious roles.
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ET The Extra Terrestrial (1982)

The original:
Alien visitors leave behind one of their own, who befriends a small boy in suburban America.

The two not only become friends but are linked empathically. If only they could find a way to get the alien home...

The Kaufman version: ET is a cuddly, telescopic-necked visitor from space during the day, but when night falls, his second, secret career as a CIA hitman comes to the fore.

While Elliott and his family are sleeping ET bangs a bunch of hot Euro chicks and poisons Julia Roberts.

Topics

Total Film

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