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Remakes. What's the Point?

 
 
Roberta
 
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 12:54 pm
I don't understand the thinking behind remakes. You take a movie that was very good. Good acting, directing, script, etc. Then you decide to make it again. Why? Has there ever been a remake better than the original? I can't think of one.

I recently saw Red Dragon, a remake of Manhunter. What was that all about? Manhunter wasn't great, but it was better than Red Dragon. And that bizarre remake of Psycho. Same shots, same everything--except for the actors and the color.

I've often wondered why people don't take films that had potential that was poorly realized and remake them. That would make more sense. At least to me.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 3,692 • Replies: 26
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 01:07 pm
"Twister" was a re-make of a movie called "Night of the Killer Tornado" and considerably better. Night of the Killer Tornado was a "B" movie at best and Twister was a box-office hit.
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 01:12 pm
How many times has a different production of Hamlet been put on stage?

How many different films of Hamlet?

Now, to your argument... not all productions of Hamlet are worthy...
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 01:12 pm
The idea of a remake is to appeal to a "newer" crowd. Since the original product is proven to be a good commodity, the new one is expected to be at least half as successfull. In an industry in which the majority of productions end up losing money, this is important. So, often the key is not to make a good film, but $$$$.

Often, a "newer" crowd means, mostly, the American public.
Foreign films are "made easy" to moviegoers who may not relate to the main characters, get weary over the "tempo" of European cinema, want more special effects, assorted song or known stars.
The result is sometimes marginally inferior to the original ("Vanilla Sky" vis a vis "Abre los Ojos"; "Solaris" vis a vis "Solyaris"); sometimes it's definitively inferior ("Sweet Charity" vis a vis "Le Notti di Cabiria"; "Sommerby" vis a vis "Le Retour de Martin Guerre"); and others it is a total disaster ("Swept Away" vis a vis "Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto").
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thiefoflight
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 02:19 pm
I refuse to watch 95% of the remakes out there.
I think the worst thing is when they feel the need to Americanize a story. I remember being dragged to the theater to see "Diabolique"[1996]. I was upset for weeks because the original is one of my favorites. I am looking forward to the new version of Willie Wonka as I hear it will be more faithful to the dark tone of the book.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 02:59 pm
Here's one that was decent - A Star is Born. I don't mean the junk made by Barbra Streisand; I mean the Judy Garland version, which is a remake (I believe the original one starred Fredric March).

And, most productions of Little Women have been good.
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MichaelAllen
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 03:15 pm
I agree that we should only touch on products that need remade. Some old versions that were poorly communicated, like most of E.A. Poe's stuff, should be remade. And now that we have far greater technology, I think we could go back and revisit most of the alien/ superhero stuff of the 50s and 60s.

But, I have heard a few good remakes of songs. Hotel California remade by the Eagles in a completely acoustical style was as good, if not better to some ears, as the first simply because it was a different taste. That makes the difference in remakes. If you present something old in a different way, you give it new life. Dolly Pardon did a great job with her "I will always love you" song (can't really remember the actual title right now) until Whitney Houston came along and blew it up. So, there's a purpose. To do it better and to do it different.

That's all we're doing at the theatre anyway. Remakes of everything Shakespeare everytime you turn around. Remakes of anything genius you can absolutely get sick of hearing about it.
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 03:16 pm
thiefoflight wrote:
I refuse to watch 95% of the remakes out there.


I refuse to watch 95% of anything.
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 11:01 pm
Oops, I can see that my thinking with respect to remakes was entirely too narrow when I started this thread. My mind is expanding as I type.

Fishin', Didn't know that Twister was a remake. I guess I never saw Night of the Killer Tornado. But this is exactly the kind of remake that makes sense. Take something with potential and improve upon it.

SealPoet, It never dawned on me that new productions of Shakespeare were remakes, but I guess they are. True, some are better than others.

fbaezer, Of course you're right about the money. And the entire business of making American versions of foreign films wasn't in my head when I started this thread. But foreign films are prime candidates for remakes. Make them American. Make them accessible. And hope that they make money. And in this category, some are good and some are awful.

Thief, I generally don't so much refuse as am just not interested. Diabolique--the American version. No thanks.

Jespah, You're right that the Judy Garland version of a Star Is Born was good. The version with Barbra--I liked some of the songs.

Michael, An interesting idea to remake the sci-fi movies of the fifties and earlier with our current technology. I like the idea. As for music, I can't say I think of covering an existing song as a remake. But I suppose in a way, a new cover is a remake.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2004 11:59 pm
Roberta: I think you'd agree with Roger Ebert, who says, in effect: don't remake a classic, remake a near-classic. In other words, remake those movies that had some potential, but didn't quite make it, rather than remaking the movies that achieved perfection (or near-perfection) the first time around.

I'll give you one movie that, I think, could benefit from a remake: "A Touch of Evil." There are a lot of people who consider this to be a film noir masterpiece, but I found it to be, at best, a terribly flawed masterpiece. The action needs to be tightened up, the script needs to be rewritten so that it makes sense, and someone with a believable Mexican accent needs to take the role that Charlton Heston played in the movie (memo to Hollywood: hey, how about Benicio del Toro?).

Some other remakes that were actually better than the originals:
    "His Girl Friday" was better than "The Front Page" Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" was better than Laurence Olivier's version and (I might get pelted with rotten fruit for saying this) "The Magnificent Seven" was at least as good, if not better than, "The Seven Samurai"
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 01:11 am
Surely it is good to present a good story to a new generation, if they are unlikely to see the original film incarnation? If it is well made....


Clearly, many here love the older versions, and that is fine when you are older, or a film buff - but I see no need to sneer about newer versions of films that many would otherwise not see.

I generally love the old versions - but not always.

Also, I wonder how often, for the young person who is becoming really interested, the remake leads back to a classic version - also, perhaps some of the new ones will be "the" classic...who can tell....
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 05:31 am
Joe... I was just thinking about Magnificent Seven on another thread about remakes...

Magnificent Seven wasn't a remake. It was a translation.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 08:11 am
"The Count Of Monte Cristo" is one that is re-made over and over again. I prefer the 1934 version starring Robert Donat (It's in my personal all time "Bests" collection.) but that was it's 5th incarnation and there have been at least another half-dozen since then.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 08:56 am
SealPoet wrote:
Magnificent Seven wasn't a remake. It was a translation.

A fine distinction, to be sure. But I think the same arguments apply: if the original was perfect, then filmmakers shouldn't attempt a translation of the original either.

In the other thread, SealPoet, you said that "Metropolis" shouldn't be remade (and I wholeheartedly agree): were you suggesting that only the Germans shouldn't remake "Metropolis," or are you saying that no one should remake it?
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 09:57 am
Joe, I heartily agree. Take a movie with unrealized potential and remake that. A Touch of Evil? Interesting idea.

Deb, Was I sneering? Well, me and Elvis. The lip just naturally goes up. I disagree with you. There are many options for people of all ages to see older films. TV. Video. CDs. I saw countless films that were made well before my time. I saw them on tv.

The Magnificent Seven and the Seven Samurai. Both muy good.
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 10:04 am
joefromchicago wrote:
In the other thread, SealPoet, you said that "Metropolis" shouldn't be remade (and I wholeheartedly agree): were you suggesting that only the Germans shouldn't remake "Metropolis," or are you saying that no one should remake it?


Metropolis was a silent movie. I don't mind if they translate the dialog...

(Slipped out of that one...)
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 05:08 pm
We've got two threads running basically on this same topic!

The Japanese animation (anime) remake of "Metropolis" is actually quite good.

As to "The Seven Samurai" being made into "The Magnificent Seven," basically the same thing was done with Kurosawa's "Yojimbo" ("A Fist Full of Dollars") and "The Hidden Fortress" ("Star Wars.")
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 05:13 pm
"The Front Page" has been remade six times (including the Rosalind Russell/Cary Grant version), mostly notably by Billy Wilder in 1974 with Walter Matthau which is every bit as good if not better than "His Girl Friday."
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2004 05:48 pm
I did not think you in particular were sneering, Boida - but I think that many of us DO automatically sneer at the idea of re-makes. I know I did - and still, speaking viscerally, do.

I just am challenging that response in myself, as much as anything.

I agree that people DO have access to the older films - but I would suspect that one has to be reasonably film literate to know that and pursue the films, no? Also, many of what we consider the classic versions were made much closer to the time when we were young, and hence I would suspect that, even were we not film literate at all, we had more ease of access to them - they remained more a part of our popular culture.

I am not one-eyed on this - I can see all sides, I think - and, as I said, my automatic response is to say "Travesty" or some such.....heehee...
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2004 03:04 am
Deb querida, My objection to remakes is a visceral one. You're right about that. They annoy me, as many things do. You make a good point about young people not knowing about the good old movies. But I am unswerving in my distaste for many of them. Why? Because I'm a crotchety old curmudgeon. That's why. Also because, unlike books in which you can create scenes and characters in your head, movies provide a tangible vision of something. Once it's fixed in my head, it's hard for me to accept another vision of what is essentially the same thing. Okay. Not only am I crotchety and curmudgeonly, but I'm also rigid. Crotchety, curmudgeonly, rigid, and lovable. :-D
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