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General discussion about what's out for the couch.
275

Ersatz Movies
Topic by: ahogue
Posted: June 2, 2005 - 11:13 AM PDT
Last Reply: June 16, 2005 - 5:41 PM PDT

page  1  2  3      prev | next
author topic: Ersatz Movies
Eoliano
post #21  on June 3, 2005 - 10:54 AM PDT  
> IMO, Ran is not a "remake" of King Lear, nor is The Magnificent Seven a remake of The Seven Samurai. If that were true, what would keep Dracula, Dead and Loving It from being a remake of Nosferatu?

However, Herzog's Nosferatu does qualify as a remake of Murnau's silent classic, and a damn fine one at that.

Speaking of Kurosawa, I think The Magnificent Seven, Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More do qualify as remakes of Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Sanjuro, though I consider Throne of Blood and Ran to be Shakespeare re-wrought... ^=^
ahogue
post #22  on June 3, 2005 - 11:16 AM PDT  
> On June 3, 2005 - 10:54 AM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > IMO, Ran is not a "remake" of King Lear, nor is The Magnificent Seven a remake of The Seven Samurai. If that were true, what would keep Dracula, Dead and Loving It from being a remake of Nosferatu?
>
> However, Herzog's Nosferatu does qualify as a remake of Murnau's silent classic, and a damn fine one at that.
-----------

You'll get no argument from me on that. It's one of my favorites.

It's one thing to take a story and switch culture, time and geography, but quite another to remake a great film in such a way that it legitimately comments upon the original while maintaining its own identity. Really a masterful film.



>
> Speaking of Kurosawa, I think The Magnificent Seven, Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More do qualify as remakes of Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Sanjuro, though I consider Throne of Blood and Ran to be Shakespeare re-wrought... ^=^
> ---------------------------------

But aren't they all related to the original material in more-or-less the same way? It has been a little while since I have seen half of those, so maybe I'm missing a distinction.
Eoliano
post #23  on June 3, 2005 - 11:40 AM PDT  
> > Speaking of Kurosawa, I think The Magnificent Seven, Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More do qualify as remakes of Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Sanjuro, though I consider Throne of Blood and Ran to be Shakespeare re-wrought... ^=^

> But aren't they all related to the original material in more-or-less the same way? It has been a little while since I have seen half of those, so maybe I'm missing a distinction.

You are referring to the westerns, n'est-ce pas? Yes, they are all adaptations of the Kurosawa originals, though I think that The Magnificent Seven comes closest to matching Seven Samurai scene for scene...
woozy
post #24  on June 3, 2005 - 11:41 AM PDT  

> >
> > But those all demonstrate my point that they have something to add.
> > ---------------------------------
>
> Yeah, I think that's using "rewrite" a little more loosely than I would use it. IMO, Ran is not a "remake" of King Lear, nor is The Magnificent Seven a remake of The Seven Samurai. If that were true, what would keep Dracula, Dead and Loving It from being a remake of Nosferatu?
>
There are rewrites of books that are "the same" such as "Tales from Shakespeare" as short stories for children, and of course there are abbridged and edited versions. In my examples "The Story of J" is the closest to a "rewrite" as it *is* the text of the old testament but re-translated/interpretted to emphasize the editor/authors theory. "There and Back again", a scene-by-scene, rewrite of The Hobbit I'd call a rewrite.

The problem is one of media. It'd make sense to hear a singer or a band do a cover of another's song because it'd be the performer will be adding her own flourishes voice or "value" to it. A play is assumed to be reproduced and recast because it is a live media. A creative director may put personal touches in... or not... and it's still considered the "same" work. A book, I'll venture to guess, is the most rigid of all media. If I were to retype Moby Dick ... well, the scenarios absurd. But if I wanted to write a version for children or ... well, that'd be a different work. But then, the director of the remake will claim (and with some validity) that it's a different work.

In general and in theory, I have nothing against remakes per se, but I think one should have a "reason" for making a remake and such a reason precludes the remake of being the "same" so to my mind it *would* be an equivalent of a novel "retelling". On the other hand I've seen very few remakes I like (none are coming to mind but I know there are a few). And like you, I think the idea of making an "american" version of a film is ... tacky.

ahogue
post #25  on June 3, 2005 - 12:02 PM PDT  
It occurs to me that there are at least two distinct kinds of remakes, setting aside where one draws the line between "remake" and...something else.

One kind is like the Magnificent Seven. It takes an original story and transplants it largely unaltered into a very different setting.

The other, more like Herzog's Nosferatu, is closer to the original in terms of setting, etc., but reinterprets the original in a subtler way, perhaps changing emphasis, adding a bit and taking a bit away, tinkering with the story.

The first is a sort of translation, and is bound to emphasize the universality of a story. Hence the more like the original it is, once the change in setting is accepted, the more successful it is in some sense.

The second kind works by altering precisely what the first kind probably should avoid changing: the story, the characters, the themes, etc.

You could say the second is like a theme and variations, whereas the first is like a transcription.

Now that's off my chest, I think I'll go rent Dracula: Dead and Loving It. ;)
woozy
post #26  on June 3, 2005 - 12:40 PM PDT  
> One kind is like the Magnificent Seven. It takes an original story and transplants it largely unaltered into a very different setting.
>

I see your point in not considering this a remake. I'd put this as a "retelling" and cede the point whether it is or isn't a "remake". I think this is very valid artform.


> The other, more like Herzog's Nosferatu, is closer to the original in terms of setting, etc., but reinterprets the original in a subtler way, perhaps changing emphasis, adding a bit and taking a bit away, tinkering with the story.
>
I consider "Foe" and to a lessor extent "Wicked" this type of "remake" of Robinson Curuso and The wizard of oz.

Herzog's is significantly different simply due to mechanical and technical chages in film making. A more "typical" remake would be Steve Martin's "Father of the Bride" and Tom Hanks "The Lady-killers" or whatsisfaces "Pyscho". The fifteen minutes of "Father of the Bride" were enough to tell me it was an abysmal abomination, and I never had any desire to see "the lady killers". I didn't see the "Psycho" although it got good reviews but I just couldn't stomach the well-publized arguement that he was recreating it scene by scene for a modern audience (who supposedly wouldn't be able to handle B & W? Sixties hair-styles? Large cars?). I dislike these remakes because the don't have any particular worthwhile reinterpretation.

The hideous looking 1999 "The Haunting" is a remake of the subtle and psychololgically terrifying 1963 version may have been terrible (I don't know, didn't see it) but at least its reinterpretation by making it more graphic and including explicit computer graphics and modern day young people, has a reason for reinterpretation. (A bit akin to remaking Old Yeller with animatronic singing mice for the point of making it more funny, in my opinion, but at least it *is* a reason.)

kohnfused1
post #27  on June 3, 2005 - 1:50 PM PDT  
Man, I can't wait for the remake of Star Wars!
woozy
post #28  on June 3, 2005 - 3:58 PM PDT  
> On June 3, 2005 - 1:50 PM PDT kohnfused1 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Man, I can't wait for the remake of Star Wars!
> ---------------------------------

Man, that'd be cool! Who's your favorite to play, Han Solo? Toshiro Mifune would be perfect!
kohnfused1
post #29  on June 3, 2005 - 4:05 PM PDT  
> On June 3, 2005 - 3:58 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On June 3, 2005 - 1:50 PM PDT kohnfused1 wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > Man, I can't wait for the remake of Star Wars!
> > ---------------------------------
>
> Man, that'd be cool! Who's your favorite to play, Han Solo? Toshiro Mifune would be perfect!
>
> ---------------------------------

I want to see Miike's version.
dpowers
post #30  on June 3, 2005 - 4:13 PM PDT  
okay... moving from movies to stage... a play is a script. no matter how good the play is, bringing the play to life in your own context is much of the fun.

i dislike and distrust the inclination to look at movies as perfect, or perfectable. i've seen tons of translated movies - remakes in another cultural context - generally they're called "ripoffs" though. but i don't see the point of the label. if you like a movie, and you're a filmmaker, why not remake it? i don't want every production team having to strictly observe an auteur code, wherein every film must be an original project conceived and realized by the director.

there's theory in here, there's intellectual property concepts, there's the competition for customers, this is a full pot this question. translation is a less full pot - sometimes the idea needs a boost to be accessible to a foreign audience.

oh and scarface... a really good example of how remakes can work.
kohnfused1
post #31  on June 3, 2005 - 4:17 PM PDT  
> On June 3, 2005 - 4:13 PM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> oh and scarface... a really good example of how remakes can work.
> ---------------------------------

...which reminds me, where's "sc4ref4rce", does anyone remember him?
Eoliano
post #32  on June 3, 2005 - 5:32 PM PDT  
> okay... moving from movies to stage... a play is a script. no matter how good the play is, bringing the play to life in your own context is much of the fun.

Good point deep, though with the exception of Van Sant's Psycho, I can't think of another film that was remade using the same script verbatim as would a play by Eugene O'Neill.

> i dislike and distrust the inclination to look at movies as perfect, or perfectable.

But in their way, Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious are perfect or near-perfect examples of a Hitchcock film so why bother remaking them or, heaven forbid, altering them in any way... As you said earlier, there's no point in remaking something like Tarkovsky's Mirror.

> i've seen tons of translated movies - remakes in another cultural context - generally they're called "ripoffs" though. but i don't see the point of the label. if you like a movie, and you're a filmmaker, why not remake it? i don't want every production team having to strictly observe an auteur code, wherein every film must be an original project conceived and realized by the director.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks a good filmmaker might have approaching a remake of a highly regarded work would be wrangling out of the homage mode, i.e. the reverence they might have for the original film or the director who made it. Which is one of the reasons why De Palma's Scarface works even though Pacino and De Palma went way over the top. In spite of the fact that people walked out on it or what the critics thought about it or that people scoffed at De Palma's dedication to Howard Hawks, their risk-taking ultimately paid off in spades.

> there's theory in here, there's intellectual property concepts, there's the competition for customers, this is a full pot this question. translation is a less full pot - sometimes the idea needs a boost to be accessible to a foreign audience.

My pot is to piss in or smoke depending how empty or full the bowl... ^=^
dpowers
post #33  on June 3, 2005 - 8:33 PM PDT  
[eoliano]
> ... with the exception of Van Sant's Psycho, I can't think of another film that was remade using the same script verbatim as would a play ...

it isn't common, it isn't done that way. probobobably cuz a remake is a "fix" in some ways. good movie, out of date/out of context/something like that.

the space on the movie screen is less protected than the stage, less differentiated, differently diff'd. stylized language can't just be put up there, the language has to be protected by another layer of information, either a genre setting or a strong period setting. walk on stage and spout poetry and people will take it to be the general tone of the play, until that changes.

but that could be a function of the somewhat folkloric role of stage drama now.

it could be that many remakes suck because nobody knows what a remake is. everything can be refashioned and still it bears the name and the characters and some of the story and it can still be called a remake, even though clever reviewers will fuss and say the label is crooked.

> But in their way, Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious are perfect or near-perfect examples of a Hitchcock film so why bother remaking them or, heaven forbid, altering them in any way...

because it would be fun. because the people involved with that production are dead and this world today is pretty different. because the ice queen needs exploration.

right, a remake would alter the original, without touching it, just by touching the space it inhabits. hmmmmmm.

> As you said earlier, there's no point in remaking something like Tarkovsky's Mirror.

well... i meant that differently. tarkovsky's films lack the referents one'd need to hang a new version. it'd be more productive to start from scratch.

> One of the greatest stumbling blocks a good filmmaker might have approaching a remake of a highly regarded work would be wrangling out of the homage mode...

yeh. everybody working on it would feel like that in some way. maybe a way around it is to say, nothing is timeless. reframing the film in our present allows us better access to the material, on our own terms.
Eoliano
post #34  on June 4, 2005 - 12:30 PM PDT  
> it could be that many remakes suck because nobody knows what a remake is. everything can be refashioned and still it bears the name and the characters and some of the story and it can still be called a remake, even though clever reviewers will fuss and say the label is crooked.

> > But in their way, Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious are perfect or near-perfect examples of a Hitchcock film so why bother remaking them or, heaven forbid, altering them in any way...

> because it would be fun. because the people involved with that production are dead and this world today is pretty different. because the ice queen needs exploration.

Mmm, ice queem.

Look, I'm not debunking remakes, all for them in fact. My argument is with Hollywood execs whose only consideration is motivated by greed and the almighty bottom line, which may be the reason why most remakes suck. If one takes an auteurist approach, i.e. like Hitchcock or Ozu (both of whom successfully made updated versions of their own films), then okay, remake the damned film. I think it's possible to rework and update material by making it relevant to today's audiences, I just happen to prefer that they are good films, especially if the original was a great film to begin with. Anyway, unless I missed something, I thought filmmaking was still considered an art form, a creative process and a means of expression, but it's unfortunate that most so-called remakes are usually bereft of art, lack creativity and have little to say. Finally, what we end up with are rehashed ideas adapted from unworthy source material with little or no redeeming qualities.
ahogue
post #35  on June 4, 2005 - 5:38 PM PDT  
> On June 3, 2005 - 4:13 PM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> i dislike and distrust the inclination to look at movies as perfect, or perfectable. i've seen tons of translated movies - remakes in another cultural context - generally they're called "ripoffs" though. but i don't see the point of the label. if you like a movie, and you're a filmmaker, why not remake it? i don't want every production team having to strictly observe an auteur code, wherein every film must be an original project conceived and realized by the director.
> ---------------------------------

Look, I went to see Soderbergh's Solaris. I didn't approach the idea as some kind of auterial sacrilege. Even though I do consider the original as good in all important respects as a movie based on that novel could be, I am all for seeing other good filmmakers interact with each other through their work, and the last thing I was looking for was an homage.

But when someone sets out to remake a great film I think they are taking on additional responsibility. If Tarkovsky had never done it, I would probably (I admit) have thought Soderbergh stumbled again, but nice soundtrack anyway. I would have been somewhat annoyed, having read the novel, of course, but it wouldn't have been such a big deal.

It's one thing to make your own mediocre film, but to take something so excellent and to trounce it is -- I don't know, maybe I'm crazy -- rather maddening. Especially coming from Soderbergh, who I would have thought would know better.

And let's remember that the remake wasn't an authentic dialogue between two artists, it was a pleasantly done Hollywoodification not very much better than any of the others people feel justified in spurning, apart from the fact that it had Soderbergh's fingerprints all over it.

It does seem that good remakes are pretty rare, probably in large part because of the industry preasures which will be at work in most productions. Did Soderbergh really think that adding a twist ending to Solaris improved it? Or did he just really want to make it and knew it would sell better that way, at least to financers? The answer seems obvious.
dpowers
post #36  on June 6, 2005 - 12:40 AM PDT  
i probably feel as let down by movie adaptations as by book adaptations. as far as i'm concerned there's as much room for imaginative development from movie to movie as from book to movie. it's probably mostly the need to pick up the pace that causes movie adaptations to stumble.

i'm still working on the issue of canons in general, as relating to recorded performances, either music or action. the question of definitive performances (albums, films, home videos) instead of descriptive templates (scores, scripts, oral traditions). wondering if 100 years from now industrial society, however it may look, will still get its biggest kick out of personal playlists, be they highly specialized cable channels or ipods.

if remakes of great films are really so impossible then maybe that's a bad sign for movies. it doesn't seem like other modern story forms have that restriction.
ahogue
post #37  on June 6, 2005 - 8:54 AM PDT  
> On June 6, 2005 - 12:40 AM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> i'm still working on the issue of canons in general, as relating to recorded performances, either music or action. the question of definitive performances (albums, films, home videos) instead of descriptive templates (scores, scripts, oral traditions).
-------------------

Working on?



>wondering if 100 years from now industrial society, however it may look, will still get its biggest kick out of personal playlists, be they highly specialized cable channels or ipods.
> ------------------

And what effect do you think the advent of playlists is having on the the canon and how it is formed/maintained/etc.

Give me the 50 cent version 'cause I have a full reading list right now. ;)




> if remakes of great films are really so impossible then maybe that's a bad sign for movies. it doesn't seem like other modern story forms have that restriction.
> ---------------------------------

Film is a collaborative medium that for the most part requires large amounts of money. I think this is only one of the things complicated by these facts.
Eoliano
post #38  on June 7, 2005 - 3:10 PM PDT  
> Look, I went to see Soderbergh's Solaris. I didn't approach the idea as some kind of auterial sacrilege. Even though I do consider the original as good in all important respects as a movie based on that novel could be, I am all for seeing other good filmmakers interact with each other through their work, and the last thing I was looking for was an homage.

> It's one thing to make your own mediocre film, but to take something so excellent and to trounce it is -- I don't know, maybe I'm crazy -- rather maddening. Especially coming from Soderbergh, who I would have thought would know better.

Steven Soderbergh just called and said to quit picking on him...
ahogue
post #39  on June 7, 2005 - 3:58 PM PDT  
> On June 7, 2005 - 3:10 PM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Steven Soderbergh just called and said to quit picking on him...
> ---------------------------------

Okay, I guess I'm being too harsh. If it makes him feel any better, I liked most of his other films a lot.
dpowers
post #40  on June 7, 2005 - 6:02 PM PDT  
> Working on?

thinking about? it seems to keep popping up. i've been inadvertently forced to reckon with it...

> And what effect do you think the advent of playlists is having on the the canon and how it is formed/maintained/etc.

okay short version.

(1) some causes of interest in personal playlists: ethnic diversity; economic diversity; division of labor creating specialization inside those two groups; miniaturization making selectivity increasingly manageable.

(2) the question of how high the level of resource use needs to be to maintain a society of specialists dependent on electronic devices for their daily business. it takes less energy to play an instrument than to run an MP3 player. don't know how severely folks in the rich places will be facing this question, if/when it comes.

(3) personal playlists are thus a rather extreme extension of economic, social, and technological forces running around for decades already. i say extreme because i consider them to be self-indulgent - outside the curve of utility that those forces sort of follow. (i don't know what that means in terms of greencine itself or anything like it.)

(4) playlists and canons. probably the position of the television series will rise again as people with economic power are able to watch more episodes, more reliably, of the shows that interest (and flatter) them. then it will fall again as digital recorder devices become cheap.

(5) back to greencine. this is the other side of the playlist phenomenon that i think works a little better. widespread access to a deep, annotated catalog is a good thing and previously this kind of access was difficult to find.

no really, i don't know what it does to canons, if they're still a viable thing in the movie world after home video broke everything open. what i envisioned with that mention of years from now was a society where nobody knew what the heck any other citizen was talking about because everybody was doing their part of the work to their personalized score against their personal contextual backdrop...

> Film is a collaborative medium that for the most part requires large amounts of money.

more important is the amount of money than can be made from it. how much it costs to make a movie is only big or small in relation to how much it will make.
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