Nov 06

Nothing New

Ecclesiastes 1:9 New International Version “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

My cousin and I discussed movie makers’ lack of originality in some of their productions. Far too many films are simply remakes of previously successful movies and television shows. Not all the remakes are as successful as the originals.

“The Seven Samurai” produced in 1954 was remade as “The Magnificent Seven” starring Yul Brynner. Both were successful films. The 2016 version of “The Magnificent Seven” is a decent remake if you enjoy a good western where you lose track of the body count. The inclusion of Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, both delicious eye candy, helped the mediocre script. The cultural diversity of the seven heroes can’t be overlooked.

Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, was made into the 1925 successful silent film “Ben-Hur.” The 1959 version starring Charlton Heston and featuring 10,000 extras, 2,500 horses, and about 200 camels was a classic. However, the 2016 version was a flop with a lackluster script and a highly digitized version of the great chariot race.

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” starring Gene Wilder was a beloved classic and Johnny Depp’s remake was a waste of screen time.

Simone Signoret’s “Diabolique,” a well-crafted, hold-your-breath 1955 French thriller had the audience gasping at key points in the story. American film makers produced a fair remake that wasn’t quite as terrifying, but the television version fell flat.

1954’s “Sabrina” starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden was remade in 1995 with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear. I must admit I did enjoy this remake better than the original, probably because I liked Ford better than Bogart.

The re-creation of specific stories without substantial changes to the basic plot is a lazy way to make money. Reworking a familiar story with a different rendering can be done successfully.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet romance has been retold many times but none better than in the musical “West Side Story.”

The story of Cinderella has been depicted in animation as well as in live action. However, Drew Barrymore’s “Ever After” was a more creative rendition of a strong-willed Cinderella rather than the shy, emotionally abused young wimp in the fairy tales.

Rather than always doing remakes, movie makers could produce more films about real life.
One example, “Deepwater Horizon,” a true story depicting crew members fighting for survival when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, is riveting.

Another example, “Queen of Katwe,” portraying the life of an uneducated young girl from Uganda who became a world-class chess champion, was inspiring. I enjoyed this film because it helped me learn about the trials and tribulations in another culture.

Even better would be more out-of-the-box stories. Two refreshing examples of great writing are the cartoons “Frozen” and “Inside Out”.

A great original, live action, character-driven production, “Hell or High Water,” is a well-crafted, western heist without overdoing the gunplay.

Have you thought about writing new, refreshing plots and not just doing a retread of the familiar ones? Surely there’s something new under the sun or at least new ways of telling it.

6 comments

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    • Sue Remisiewicz on December 11, 2016 at 5:53 pm
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    I’ve heard it said that there are no new stories only new ways to tell the tales. I don’t believe that. I think Hollywood needs to grow a backbone and give new stories a try. I enjoyed the contrasting of the old versus new in your blog. It is good food for thought.

    • Kelly Bixby on December 7, 2016 at 11:33 pm
    • Reply

    Barbara, you make me want to watch Ever After all over again. I love that movie. Thanks for your insight and suggestions.

    • Karen Kittrell on November 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm
    • Reply

    Barbara, Thanks for the remake review. You make a good point about remakes being a profit churning endeavor. It would be interesting to see if more cultural changes were added to the remake than racial diversity or gender roles. It seems the use of profanity changes over the years, and explicatives reflect the current culture too. In your list above, I would enjoy watching either Sabrina or Roald Dahl recreation.

      • Anonymous on December 4, 2016 at 6:01 pm
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      Glad you enjoyed the blog. There are numerous remakes some of which shouldn’t be done. I’ll look for other cultural changes besides racial diversity, gender roles, and profanity excesses in future remakes I see. Thanks for the idea.

    • Claire Murray on November 7, 2016 at 6:02 pm
    • Reply

    Good ideas! I’m always looking for a spark to get me started!

      • Anonymous on December 4, 2016 at 6:02 pm
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      Happy to be of assistance. I enjoy looking for story starters. Hopefully a few will help me complete longer pieces than my usual blogs and short stories.

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