Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hopping Off the Remake High Horse


So, today while talking with a friend about some upcoming movies that are being remade we got into a bit of a debate on the use of remakes. I won't argue that now, perhaps more than ever, remakes have really gained an insane amount of force in the Hollywood spending scheme. Seemingly everything gets a re-imagining/remake these days... heck there's even talk about a Showgirls sequel being made (the movie gods just keeled over). His argument that was remakes are Hollywood's pathetic attempt at making a cheap buck, upon much deliberation, it occurred to me:

"Your point?" To illustrate this I've collected some information:

Remakes date all the way back to 1904! Did you know the 1903 "first" film was remade only a year later? Why? Because they could! Jimmy Stewart's 1939 breakthrough western, Destry Rides Again was a more wholesome re-visioning of a 1932 film starring Tom Mix. It was subsequently remade 13 years later starring Audie Murphy in the titular role. The 1935 classic Mutiny on the Bounty was remade into a 1962 classic starring Marlon Brando.

Earlier today I reviewed a remake of Pelham One, Two, Three, and while I didn't like it, I didn't hate it for remaking a movie I love. Though I'll admit because it was a remake I believe it deserves what all remakes do, to be judged in comparison to what they're trying to re-create/re-imagine. Now, I don't have any problem with people going out and saying they don't like remakes, but you don't need to be snobbish about it. Remakes are as old as film, and as such I don't think they should receive the instant hate they tend to garnish among film fanatics.

Many horror buffs loved Cronenberg's The Fly in 1986, but it was a remake as well. Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been remade more times than I care to think about, with some good results (1978 version), and some bad ones (2007's The Invasion). What I'm really trying to say is I understand we don't like seeing people try and approach our favorite classics and put a new spin on them. Especially when we love the original so much, but do we really have to act as if remakes are some new Hollywood occurrence we have to take some moral stand against?

Sometimes remakes just work. It's not a crime that people try and re-envision something. If we were so against that we'd have to throw out every film based on a book/play ever made. And if we did that you shouldn't be surprised to find out we'd probably be throwing out well over 50% of some of your favorite classics. It's the way people have approached art throughout the ages, re-interpret, analyze, and attempt to recreate. Sure we should value, encourage, and admire new, creative, stories in film. But we should not be so quick to judge/hate remakes, which are nothing more than a re-interpretation of something... and without interpretation our lovely blogging community would not exist (granted some of these remakes are really really bad).

What do you think?

6 better thoughts:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I don't think that people are against remakes. They're against bad remakes. And many remakes are bad. But me, I'd love a good remake of The Philadelphia Story or A Streetcar Named Desire. Once it's a good movie, I'm in. Remake or not.

The Mad Hatter said...

So this begs the question, what do you think of the upcoming remake of HARVEY??

Univarn said...

@Andrew I understand that, but I think with each bad remake they are amplified way over the good remakes, even the classic remakes. To a point where bloggers tend to ramble on about how awful a remake will be until they see it.

@Mad Haha. I think a remake of Harvey can work as long as they maintain the original charm, though nobody can replace Jimmy Stewart (Edward P. Dowd is up there with my all time favorite characters). The remake I'm much more concerned with is The Seven Samurai one they keep trying to get into production. That's a far more daunting task that seldom works.

The Mad Hatter said...

"Mad HaHa"?? That's not bad actually.

The latest rumour I heard was that they had cast Robert Downie Jr as Elwood. If that's true, there's hope...a small sliver of hope mind you, but hope.

As for the Samurai remake, were they not already happy with what THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN achieved?

PS - One of my favorite little double features is to watch SEVEN SAMURAI and A BUG'S LIFE back-to-back.

Univarn said...

@Mad. Not in one million years would I ever have thought of putting A Bug's Life and Seven Samurai as part of back to back marathon. Though now that you mention it I might have to give it a shot! As for Downey Jr... there's a chance there. It's just so hard to recreate that character without overdoing it. Even Jimmy Stewart couldn't make it work when he remade Harvey in the 70s.

The Mad Hatter said...

@ Univarn... It all depends on how much of the charm of the original Spielberg is willing to leave alone, and how much he intends to dumb down/modern up. I believe in RDJ...he's the sort of actor who could recite the phone book and make it witty.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not buying an advance ticket...I'm just encouraged.

Yeah - Samurai & Bug's life...you know you wanna!

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