Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let it be...

After reading an interesting piece on where the film industry is going, I did a little research and complied a list of all the green-lit remakes. Aside from the little frustration of having to see remake after remake done over the past few years and sequel after sequel, I’m getting a little tired, but the MAIN complaint I have is that not only do some of the films not translate (timely or regionally) but they also take away from what made them so special. Not that all the following films were great in their original form, but remaking a film is like remaking a memory.

Several studies have shown that one of the reasons we rewatch movies is because as humans we have a natural inclination to re-experience times and events we like. We rewatch movies because we know that memory is going to be EXACTLY the same each time. Now, we seem to be steadily moving away from a memory culture into a storyteller culture. Like an old tale passed down from generation to generation, elements of the tales will change. Characters will change, locations will change, motivations will change, tone will change; all of these things will change when a different storyteller gets their hands on it. I’m not saying its necessarily a bad thing, but it can be.

Imagine “Jaws” or “Alien” being remade today; it couldn’t happen. We’ve been exposed to more special effects monsters than H.P. Lovecraft could ever dream. We’re no longer exposed to the fear of the unknown. We hadn’t seen a killer shark before, or an alien, and even in the films themselves we barely saw them. The film was built around atmosphere and characters. I remember my Uncle Buddy telling me when he first saw Godzilla. He was just a young kid at the time. When Godzilla (which we would now consider to be merely a Halloween Costume) popped his head over that mountaintop for the first time, the audience went nuts. People had to leave because of how horrifying it seemed. It was THE FIRST time something like this happened to us as a culture.

In my opinion, that’s what makes a great film. Yes, I understand and appreciate the need for mindless popcorn films, sometimes you just want to watch things blow up and look at awesome battles. There will always be remakes, and definitely retellings; our screen writing teachers told us there are only 28 storylines after all.

Films being remade soon:

The Thing
Karate Kid
Drop Dead Fred
The Gate
The Evil Dead
The Mechanic
Old Boy
Battle Royale
Angel Heart
The Warriors
They Live
The Crow
Red Dawn
Time Cop
District B13
The Host
The Lives of Others (don’t even get me started)
Short Circuit
Red Sonja
Top Gun
The Witches

Just let it be, Hollywood. Let it be.

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