“I know where I’ve seen you before!” Remaking gender, class, nationality and politics from The Lady Vanishes (1938) into Flightplan (2005)

Agnieszka RASMUS


This paper addresses the important role of remakes in flm culture and their vital function in refecting societal and cultural transformations. It looks at one particular case study of British to American cross-cultural exchange: The Lady Vanishes and Flightplan. Comparing British stereotypes from the past in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 comedy with contemporary Hollywood preconceptions in Robert Schwentke’s 2005 remake, it shows how the issues of class, nationality, gender, race and politics are presented in films set almost seventy years apart, especially that each of them punctuates an important moment in history and thus inevitably becomes an expression of the then current societal concerns.

At frst glance it seems that Flightplan’s sole purpose is entertainment. When equipped with the knowledge of the source text, however, we can see that most of the conficts present in the earlier work resurface in the update. Even though Robert Schwentke’s Flightplan was openly compared to a claustrophobic Hitchcock thriller, the screenwriters, Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray, claim to have written an original script. Still, if one googles the two titles together, it becomes obvious that in the digital era viewers spot any “hidden” remaking practices that soon become common knowledge. This indicates that the similarities between the two flms are not accidental but could rather serve as reference-points. Following from that, if Hitchcock’s amusing comedy can be read as a political allegory of the Chamberlain Era, the same may apply to its remake, in which case Flightplan emerges as one of the critical voices of the Bush-Cheney administration.

Keywords: Remake, Hollywood, Hitchcock, Flightplan, The Lady Vanishes, gender, class, race, nationality, politics