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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Would you remake this?

Watching the teaser trailer for the upcoming The Omen remake, I got to thinking about another way of explaining why remakes are nine times out of ten worthless. This time my side involves something by Leonardo da Vinci (and yes, it's tied in with some book that recently went to paperback and a forthcoming film based on that book).

Wouldn't it sound incredibly ridiculous to remake da Vinci's painting, Mona Lisa? An iconic painting with a warm, but rather mysterious, aura around it, people have known this painting as a truly timeless piece of art. So, how would matters sound if some person or persons somewhere thought the painting needed to be introduced to a new audience and commissioned a remake? Take any painter (no matter what experience he/she has) and tell him/her to give this remake a modern flair. Nevermind the fact that millions of people flock to see the original painting year after year, how many people would like to see a remake and keep coming back to this remake year after year?

If you catch my drift, almost any kind of remake will go on to be a footnote in the shadow of something that has stood the test of time and will continue to stand the test of time. There are definitely exceptions to the rule when something is not very well-known at first but is later better known with a remake (Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" is a great example), but that number is small potatoes in the grand scheme.

With this remake of The Omen, what is trying to be accomplished? Other than some choppy editing and forced acting, the original version is just fine. Yet there is this notion that something needs to be, to use the Mona Lisa example, "repainted" for some virtual audience that has never heard of the original and/or never would have heard of it if it weren't for a remake. Folks, I don't know about you, but who in the world is really like this? I know children aren't born with a keen sense of cynicism, pop culture prowess or a knowledge of centuries of history, but come on, if something has stood (and will continue to stand) the test of time, what makes people think there needs to be a remake?

Out of all the movie remakes that have come out in the last few years, can you name one (other than Ocean's Eleven) that is better remembered than the original? We're not stupid people with zero knowledge of history, especially in a medium that is so well documented and preserved for posterity in pop culture, but Hollywood thinks we need more remakes. These original films are still widely available on DVD and look even better when they first came out. There is definitely an understandable way of effectively modernizing something that was originally cheesy and lame (see the original Battlestar Galactica and its remake on the Sci-Fi Channel), but this idea is not that commonplace. Are we really a creatively bankrupt society? Absolutely not. I just think more of this train of thought by the major motion picture studios will bankrupt them.

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