It’s difficult not to notice the ever-increasing number of remakes and reboots in recent times, but what may not be so obvious is one particular source that Hollywood mines for material over and over again: the 1950s.
Think Seven Samurai (1954), Ben-Hur (1959), Rear Window (1954), The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), plus almost every Disney film from the decade (Peter Pan, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland) – all have been updated for today’s cinemas with the latest technological advancements
Sure, you could argue that Hollywood has borrowed from many other eras, but there’s something sacred about the ’50s in particular. From Gene Kelly’s dance moves, to the rise of Hitchcock’s suspenseful thrillers, to the birth of Marlon Brando’s legacy; it is truly the golden age of filmmaking.
If the 1950s could speak for itself today, how would it feel about the way Hollywood has treated some of its cinematic gems? Well, I’m so glad you asked…
It’s the 1950s here. It’s been a long time. Just wanted check in and see how things are going…
Actually, that’s a lie. I know exactly how things are going. For whatever reason, you’ve decided to release another Ben-Hur. With green screens and CGl, maybe you’ll take the film to the next level – visually, at least. But what about that special something that made Ben-Hur so beloved in the first place? Have you completely forgotten what made my films so memorable?
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so judgemental. Your Ben-Hur hasn’t even reached cinemas yet, but I have to consider your track record…
Let’s go back to 2008 and your rendition of The Day The Earth Stood Still… my god, did it ever feel like that cinema was standing still. How could you take something that was so exciting and thrilling and make it so… boring? Even Keanu looked like he was falling asleep.
You’ve also taken a liking to my monster films. Moby Dick is now In The Heart Of The Sea and Gozilla is now… well, I guess you were too lazy to change the title on that one. You may have made a better looking monster, but what else did you actually achieve?
But enough with the grouching; I’ve gotten used to the fact that you’re going to continue to steal from me, so for the sake of the future of cinema, let me give you some advice.
First thing’s first – stop forgetting to tell the goddamn story. Ditch your overpriced actors; you don’t need those schmucks to tell a good story. What you need is decent writers.
Remember: I’ve done the hard work for you, but that doesn’t mean you can rest on my laurels. If you want to remake my films, then extend the world that I created and dig deeper. Explore the characters and the possibilities further than I ever could. Figure out why audiences loved my films in the first place and then make it your own.
Lastly, and most importantly – stick to the basics. You don’t need to spend a ridiculous sum of money. You don’t need to rely on CGI when you can go to real locations. You don’t need to razzle dazzle the audience with unnecessary fluff.
Heed my words, young Hollywood, and you may make another fine decade of films yet.
Image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer & Chapel Distribution