Monday, November 13, 2017

The Remakes Blogfest

It's time for the Remakes Blogfest!  Our hosts for this one are Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.

Let's face it.  Remakes abound these days.  A lot of the time, remakes are made to cash in on nostalgia, and they're often done so poorly it hurts.  In a world filled with terrible remakes, it might be reassuring to know that remakes can be done well.

The process of writing this post was more difficult than I originally imagined it would be.  I've seen a lot of remakes, some of which I didn't realize were remakes until much later, and that got me to thinking about what makes a good remake.  I can't quite plot the trajectory I ended up taking, but one thing led to another, and all of the sudden I found myself debating the terms remake, reboot, and retelling.

In general, these terms aren't so easily defined.  People seem to have different ideas of where the lines are drawn.  It's generally agreed that remakes stick close to the original source material.  The primary reason to make a strict remake tends to be to make use of updated special effects.  And to make money, of course.  This might be one reason why I find a lot of remakes dissatisfying.  They ultimately seem pointless.  If the original was so wonderful that you want to make a completely faithful remake, then why bother?

Reboots happen a lot these days too.  These take the original premise, but often take the story in a different direction.  This can be an interesting route to take.  You can explore how beloved characters react to new scenarios and contemplate the alternate paths history might have followed under other circumstances.  The recent Star Trek films are an example of this.  While they're not perfect, I have enjoyed them for what they are.  As long as you stay true to the heart of the source material, a reboot can be a good way to entertain old fans while drawing in new ones.

Then comes the category I personally find most intriguing: the retelling, aka the re-imagining.

The retelling is the least loyal of the three.  Here you can have wild divergence from the original source material, though you can still see it there, hidden in the bones of the piece when
you pick it apart.  It serves as inspiration, helping to lay the foundation for something new.  Why do this, though?  Why are we compelled to retell stories across time?  There are untold worlds worth of stories to be told, but we keep coming back to the same ones and reexamining them.  Why do we keep adapting Shakespeare's plays?  Why do we keep making new works based off The Odyssey?

I think a part of it has to do with the themes of these classic stories.  Shakespeare's plays continue to resonate because they speak to love and loss and greed and pain.  No matter how much society changes, those human emotions stick with us.  Those old stories are a part of us.  We grew up with them, and we continue to relate to them.

That being said, we also live in a time vastly different from Shakespeare's day.  While our humanity remains, our worries about the world are different.  We live in a world where the wonders of science both excite us and frighten us.  We value what science has made possible while also worrying about how our own human failings may lead to disaster on a much larger scale than was previously possible.  In retelling these old tales in a new context, we can explore what it means to be human in modern times.  We can examine where we've come from and speculate about where we may be going.

That brings me to one of my favorite retellings.  It may not be a remake in the strictest sense, but I feel like it falls within the spirit of this blogfest.  I have fond memories of watching this film as a kid.

Forbidden Planet sends Shakespeare's The Tempest into deep space.  The story has been greatly changed, obviously, but it's still there, repackaged in sleek metal and special effects.  It explores the old themes in a new context.  I'd recommend watching this video to learn more about the relationship between Forbidden Planet and The Tempest.  It's pretty brilliant.

What are your feelings about remakes?  What remakes have you enjoyed?


  1. I don't really understand pure remakes either. We recently watched the new Rocky Horror Picture Show and while it was perfectly fine, I just didn't understand why it needed to be made.

    As far as eboots, the new Star Trek movies are pretty fun, but they do seem to miss a certain element from the original series. Star Trek was never intended as a flashy space adventure, which is what is has become.

    One of my favourite film remakes is Night of the Living Dead. I stil adore the black & white original, but the 90s remake directed by Tom Savini is great in its own way. It follows the story of the original closely but with small changes that gives it a new context for the day. Both versions are awesome.

  2. You chose one of my fav remakes (reboot). Star Trek. I enjoy a good remake. Too many are poorly done and easily forgotten. Excellent bringing in Shakespeare and the movies that use his plays as a basis.

  3. When I was a teen, one of my favorite movies was The Company of Wolves which was a retelling of LIttle Red Riding Hood.

  4. I agree with your assessment of most remakes - they are pointless. However, rebooting the Star Trek franchise was brilliant. I've enjoyed all three movies.
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest!

  5. I know Forbidden Planet is a retelling but I don't know the original story of The Tempest.

    The Star Trek reboot has been fun.

  6. Star Trek is ruling the remake hop! I was good, so it deserves a lot of mention. My link didn't work on the Linky. I think it's because I screwed up the path with the switch to my new, cranky blog.

  7. I usually will prefer a retelling or reboot to a remake, but I guess it depends on how good the original was. Remaking a film like Psycho made no sense to me--especially if they were trying to replicate it with the only change it being in color. The original version was extra creepy because it was in black and white.

    I love journey stories. The Odyssey could be retold or reinvented many times and never get old if it were done correctly.

    Tossing It Out

  8. Huh. I haven't heard of that one. Now I'm going to have to hunt down Forbidden Planet. You know, I think that's why there are so many fairytale retellings, and why they do so well. Same story. I'm personally looking forward to the Jumanji remake. The last one was...well, lame? This one looks hilarious.

  9. I remember being told a few movies I had enjoy were retellings and it blew my mind. I think Clueless was one, but I can't remember for the life of me what it was supposed to be a retelling of. I may be remembering wrong.

  10. Star Trek w/ Pine is awesome! I think they're doing a great job. At least they gave a reason for why it would be slightly different, because the timeline changed!

    Thank you for joining our blogfest today!!!

  11. I like the new Star Trek movies, but I still have a great fondness for the original. O Brother was so much fun!

  12. Love the new Star Treks and the season finale of Star Trek Discovery on CBS All Access just aired, no more until Jan 2018 boo hoo.

    The other movies I don't know.

  13. we loved the first 2 Star Trek re-boot movies. i think they came up with a better Kahn story.

  14. I have enjoyed the new Star Trek movies enormously. Actor picks were well thought out!

  15. Shakespeare must be the oldest dramatist to get remade so many times, wonder if the other classical authors/dramatists have got less/more remakes than him? Interesting clip and very interesting retelling!

  16. I do enjoy a re-imagining more than an actual reboot. It takes the creative process to a whole different place instead of treading the same ground.

  17. The only time I can make any sense of a pure remake is when presenting it to a foreign audience. I've seen great foreign films flop in the US only to see a pure remake released later and do well. I don't get it, but I understand it.
    I love how you broke all of this down. This is a really great post.