Are film re-makes ever really better than the original?

Are film re-makes ever really better than the original?Ah, the re-make. Nothing must sound sweeter to the Hollywood studio executive’s ear. Most of the work has already been done for them. Simply rewrite the pre-existing script, throw in a bunch of contemporary references, whack in some whiz-bang CGI and hey presto! Product with a pre-existing but now considerably older audience – possibly with kids of their own who will also have an interest. It’s a sure fire formula! It’s also responsible for a long tract of dirge that works its way across the filmic landscape like a toxic fault-line contaminating fond halcyon memories with mediocrity and generally ruining people’s days.

That would be one way of looking at the situation. For people with this perspective the idea that a re-make could be better than the original is a sacrilegious statement worthy of some of the more strange and unusual deaths that feature in the Bible. Instead of such knee-jerk idolatry let us instead explore this idea.

We’ll remember it for you wholesale

Cinema has a unique place within the human psyche – the closest to the promise of virtual reality that has ever been reached. Our best experiences of it are those of an immersion that grips us firmly by the nervous system. Those moments become deeply embedded within us and are further bolstered by film as cultural and social currency – a way in which to bond with others and cement friendships. Such is the power of movies. And nowhere is this power felt more deeply than in youth.
And therein lies part of the problem. By re-making a film you are essentially stomping all over a part of huge swathes of people’s psychic beings. It doesn’t even matter if you do a good job of it because, as the song goes, the first cut is the deepest, and nothing can possibly compare to that initial experience.

Won’t somebody please think of the children?

There is truth to the idea that the youth of today won’t watch films of a certain age. Whether it is because they have become spoilt by the technology of CGI and realistic effects, modern editing techniques and huge budgets or whether it is because children automatically reject that which has come before them in their quest for the new doesn’t really matter. What matters is that stories are important to us. Should not everything that can be done to introduce the young to stories from the past indeed be done? Even it is in the form of a re-make?
It is not a question of whether re-makes can be better than the original, although it is indeed possible, but more a case of preserving culture and stories in all ways possible.

Picture: James Steidl James Group Studios inc. – Fotolia