Unknown (UK-Ger-Fr-Can-Jap-US)

Hollywood but not Hollywood

Spanish director, multi-national cast including an Irish lead, British scriptwriter, Berlin setting; apart from that this a Hollywood film. One of the producers is Kinowelt, now owned by France’s Studio Canal, that pioneered in the 1990s, after the deregulation of the financial markets, investment in Hollywood films such as Dark City (Aus-US, 1998). Despite the origin of the money, many of these films could easily be mistaken for Hollywood productions; indeed, as an ‘institutional mode of production’, they were Hollywood films.

As is Unknown, an entertaining thriller that manages a spin on the ‘no one knows who I am’ trope and satisfyingly includes numerous chases, crashes and suspense sequences. All for $30m, much cheaper than if produced in America, and grossing a good $130m worldwide. The only time I felt I might not be watching a Hollywood film was the sympathy suggested toward illegal immigrants; one played by Diane Kruger assists our hero.

Such is the cultural dominance of Hollywood that film producers still use it as a model for worldwide commercial cinema. I think the rising economies of China, India and Brazil will challenge this hegemony. It will be interesting to see how the $90m The Flowers of War (China-HK, 2011) fares.

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