EXCL: Rod Lurie on the Straw Dogs Remake

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Filmmaker Rod Lurie has made a name for himself with original ideas that have spawned the critically lauded 2000 political drama The Contender and a number of much-appreciated television shows like “Line of Fire” and “Commander in Chief.” With that in mind, it was somewhat surprising to learn that he was planning to tackle his first full-on remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 violent revenge thriller Straw Dogs.

When ComingSoon.net recently had an extended talk with Lurie about his new movie Resurrecting the Champ, he told us that he’s currently writing that remake with plans to shoot next May, and he also told us how this remake came his way. “My partner Marc Frydman came up with the idea to acquire the rights, which very quietly were floating around somewhere and we just snatched it up, because it’s sort of a classic film in the sense that it’s infamous. It’s a good not great film by a great director, and we thought if we modernized it and Americanized it, it’s rife for a remake, so we just went for it.”

“It’s an interesting film, isn’t it?” he continued, “but it was pretty much killed by a two-second moment on screen where his wife is being raped and she smiles. That was the end of that movie. You can be certain that she’s not going to be smiling in the rape in my film. I was a critic for years, and very often our reviews will say, ‘Well, if he had done this, it would have been a better film.’ I look at ‘Straw Dogs’ as a very imperfect movie. It’s a little bit slow and it’s themes are a little bit murky. There are some amazing moments and it’s a very satisfying movie, but you sort of look at what can be improved upon now. It may seem very arrogant to say, ‘We can improve upon Peckinpah.’ I can never improve upon the best of Peckinpah. I would never remake ‘The Wild Bunch’ but this is a film that I think he was a little lazy on, and it’s a fascinating story. What I really want to do is make a movie about what it means to be a bully, how easy it is to become a bully, and how decency is defined I think by not being a bully when you have the opportunity to be one.”

Knowing Lurie’s bent for politics, might there be a bit of hidden political underpinnings in that statement? Only time will tell, but next up for Lurie is Nothing but the Truth, a movie about the First Amendment, and on Monday, you can read our full interview with the filmmaker as he talks extensively about his current movie Resurrecting the Champ, which opens on Friday, August 24.