A Film Remake - or is it?

I find myself most of the time gasping at horror at the announcement when a film I love is being slated for a remake. The question I find myself wondering each and every time, is it really an issue?

Yes, sometimes the remake is an absolute abomination and every one of us can name more than one. Personally having recently watched Conan on DVD (I missed this little gem at the cinema) in my opinion it should never have been remade - or should it? The point I concluded is that if it was renamed, the film may have done better at the box office because die hard fans would not know the difference until afterwards. Possibly it may even receive a different fan base. What the studios are banking on though, which is maybe a little misguided is the original fans are going to see them because it is using the same name - it seems to me as though this ideal truly is a double edged sword.

Personally I believe a remake is a timescale issue more often than not. The problem we have as an audience; is that sometimes the film we reminisce about is already a remake - shock horror! Sorry to burst your bubble but if you delve back in history, you may just find it already it may have been a foreign film, or been made years previous? The Magnificent Seven (1960) was a remake of ‘Shichinin no Samurai’ (Seven Samurai 1954) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) was based on the previous two but set in space. We see them as different entities because they have different names.

 

 

Even amazing film makers we respect and admire casually drop in a remake - Cape Fear (1991) by Scorsese is a remake from 1962, shocked? The point I think, is that technology moves on and for that reason sometimes a film can be re-made and made better. You and I, the audience have got to give it a chance. Alfred Hitchcock even remade his own film The Man Who Knew Too Much and commented - "Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional". Although 'tinker time' for George Lucas has long since been a byword of the Star Wars franchise, move on Sir please.

 

Problems

Our problem with re-makes is that sometimes it just should not use the same name - like Total Recall (which prompted this page) the Arnie romp and Farrell's action paced visual. They are pretty much two entirely different films. If the studio had called it Recall and suggested it played homage to Total Recall, or closer to the original short story by Philip K Dick as intended, maybe it would not have garnered the backlash I have seen from irate Schwarzenegger fans.

My final point is that you also have to factor in how future generations will take to a film and to make sure enough of a gap is left between them. Spiderman is a case in point. The timescales between reboots are too short and the way it is treated is far too similar. Batman however did the reverse. A film of recent that I quite liked which used a different name yet paid homage to the original was Steven Spielbergs 'Disturbia', against Alfred Hitchcocks 'Rear Window'.

Conclusion

Please remember sometimes the film we reminisce about as being ruined is not even an original, the film we adore is actually a remake and for that, maybe a 'new' film needs to be given a little slack. Let it stand on its own merit and take a stand to be counted - or not.

While I was brushing up on the dates of the mentioned remakes above, even I was surprised to discover certain films I believed to be original, fun, and unique and brilliantly made, were in fact remakes. So I shall list a few that shocked even me!!

 

Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986) dir. Paul Mazursky - Boudu sauvé des eaux (1932) dir. Jean Renoir
Fatal Attraction (1987) dir. Adrian Lyne - Diversion (A British TV film)
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) dir. Dominic Sena - Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) dir. H. B. Halicki
I Am Legend (2007) dir. Francis Lawrence - The Last Man on Earth (1964) dir. Ubaldo Ragona
Mean Machine (2001) dir. Barry Skolnick - The Longest Yard (1974) dir. Robert Aldrich
One Million Years B.C. (1966) dir. Don Chaffey - One Million B.C. (1940) dir. Hal Roach
Scarface (1983) dir. Brian De Palma - Scarface (1932) dir. Howard Hawks
Scent of a Woman (1992) dir. Martin Brest - Profumo di donna (1974) dir. Dino Risi
The Thing (1982) dir. John Carpenter - The Thing from Another World (1951) dir. Christian Nyby & Howard Hawks
True Lies (1994) dir. James Cameron - La Totale! (1991) dir. Claude Zidi
You've Got Mail (1998) dir. Nora Ephron - The Shop Around the Corner (1940) dir. Ernst Lubitsch