Remakes, adaptations and other ways to mess up the original…

Clapper boardSo there was an article floating round the internet last week with a list of movies that are currently in the process of being “remade”, or “rebooted” as the studios like to call it.  Call it what you will it makes me wonder if Hollywood as simply run out of original ideas…?? Remakes tend to make a lot of people very nervous…

Some films benefit from a fresh look. Many movie buffs will argue that the Bogart classic The Maltese Falcon is one of the greatest movies of its time. But this was actually the THIRD adaptation of Dashiell Hammett original book. Some Like It Hot (one of Marilyn’s best movies) was actually a remake of a 1935 French film called Fanfare d’Amour (yeah…I didn’t know this either and I like to think I’m quite the Monroe fan). Also did you know that Heat was a remake of an 1989 made-for-TV movie? Me neither. But maybe the reason these were massive hits in their own right is because nobody really remembers them the first time round. The “remakes” eclipse the originals because the originals were so obscure in the first place.

But what happens when you take a beloved film and fail to match the earlier greatness. Arthur with Russell Brand? Don’t get me started. The 2009 remake of Fame? Oh god no… A Room With View? Come on…what was wrong with the 1985 version? Nothing!! And this is the problem with remakes. When the original has such a strong fan base the reboot doesn’t have a chance. However the studios often believe if people loved it the first time round obviously they’ll love the “newer and improved” version… I beg to differ. Sometimes you should let sleeping dogs lie. (To the studio contemplating a remake of Point Break I’m looking at you right now… Back away. Back far away…)

And then there is the problem of adaptations from books. All ideas have to come from somewhere I guess but I sometimes when I hear that one of my favourite books is getting turned into a Hollywood blockbuster I’m filled with dread at the thought. Lets take The Golden Compass as an example. Myself, along with millions, LOVE the Philip Pullman novels. How hollywood managed to so spectacularly bungle the film adaptation is quite remarkable. It was so bad they immediately abandoned the two follow-up movies. Way to go guys…

Earlier in the year I went to see the West End production of Shakespeare In Love. It’s a really good production and I enjoyed it. The play stuck very closely to the original film with much of the dialogue being lifted straight from the big screen (with permission obviously. Don’t worry…no plagiarising here…) I haven’t seen the 1998 film since it was first released so for me it was like watching the production with fresh eyes. My companion however was very nervous as he absolutely loved the film and was worried the stage version might ruin it for him. I guess we all have favourite films or books or plays that may be adapted or remade at some point and we feel so passionately about them that we instantly hate the revamped version before its even released. It’s a personal thing at the end of the day. If you love a film and it touches you in some way and means a lot to you then obviously you’ll be sceptical if it gets a hollywood make-over.

And before you all start writing in…Yes… I am fully aware of the irony that I was in the remake of Clash of the Titans. Some say it was a good effort. Others hated it. I will plead the fifth on that one but it goes to show that opinions are divided. Maybe some classics should be left alone but then again, some remakes do work… Robin Williams’ Birdcage was a remake of a 1978 movie that itself was an adaptation of an earlier play. And it’s awesome. Who knows why some work and others fail but if you figure it out can you please tell Paramount and save us from another Footloose debacle…

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3 Responses to Remakes, adaptations and other ways to mess up the original…

  1. Very good. I agree completely. I get all wound up sometimes when I hear about a remake. Get a little bit crazy even. I think you’re right in that we need to relax and embrace the ones we love and leave the rest to others.

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  2. And yet there are beloved films I’d love to see rebooted or sequelized. Last Starfighter is ripe for a sequel, or even a reboot. I always dream of a sequel to Blake Edwards’ “The Great Race,” but, alas, I’d want the original actors and most of them have passed on.

    And where oh where is my Gilligan’s Island motion picture? LONG overdue. (Anyone who want sto argue about that is welcome to bring it on.)

    P.S. I like Brand’s “Arthur.” But then, I like Brand.

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  3. Bruno Alcouffe says:

    Total Recall, anyone…?

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