Friday, August 25, 2006

...Before the Taking of Toast and Tea.

Gentle Reader, I just watched a movie in fast-forward, because I disliked it so. It was a film version of a video game, and while the trailers made me want to see it, thus fulfilling their inherent jobs as trailers, I regret the hour I spent on this movie. Why? Because in a world full of Really Smart People, we seem to suffer under the pain of The Remake. Not just the film remake of the video game, either, but all of these horrifying revisions of movies that don't do anything but update the clothes and the timeline. Because of the constant call back to the eighties, or the seventies, or the sixties, etc. for fashion. Because of the continuing trend of serialized or formulaic novels.

There are real, honest to God smart writers out there with *original*, yes, original ideas that Aren't Getting Published, or Bought, or Made, because someone somewhere decided that we needed another version of Can't Buy Me Love, or The Cutting Edge (two of This Humble Writer's favorite movies from The Eighties!). That what the public really wants to see is a classic movie remade with modern actors.

That's simply Not True, and when someone somewhere decides to remake Casablanca, This Humble Author is going to Scream at the Top of Her Lungs.

But Ms. Reads, you ask, how, then, are you a fan of the superhero movie, or the film version of some of your favorite novels?

Because most of those tend to be a *revision* rather than a *remake*. Think back to how smart the third Harry Potter is. It's smart because it didn't simply put the novel on the big screen. Rather, it took the idea, and turned it into A Film. Or, perhaps, Clueless, which is truly A Smart Movie, because it is a modern retelling of a classic novel.

There is a difference, I believe, between the remake and the revision. The remake simply takes a film, or book, and transposes it to modern expectations for scenery, actors, clothing, etc. The revision takes an *idea* from a film or book, and reimagines it in a different setting, or world, or plot. So when O Brother, Where Art Thou? takes its idea from The Odyssey, it reimagines the hero's journey in Depression-Era America. When Clueless takes its idea from Emma, it reimagines class dichotomy in 90s California. That, Dear Reader, is Smart.

But also, it relies on a writer creating an original idea. So little today seems to be based on original ideas, so that when a movie like Brick comes along, I get wowed. If someone were to take the idea behind Casablanca, and transpose it to, say, the Iraq War, we might see something very interesting indeed. But then, is it a revision of Casablanca, or is it a utilization of the idea of star-crossed lovers caught during wartime? We've seen that over and over again, since The Dawn Of Literature As We Know It: Tristan and Isolde, or Romeo and Juliet, for example.

Sometimes, just sometimes, Gentle Reader, I feel as if we are losing sight of creativity. Let's return to fashion for a moment. Some may make the argument that we bring the eighties back in fashion again and again because people want to wear eighties' fashions. That people buy these fashions, so therefore, they must want them. Instead, I say that people buy eighties' fashions because *that's all there is to buy*.

(This Humble Writer, for one, would like to say that if we are to bring back any era of fashion, why not the thirties and forties? A-line dresses are flattering on any body type, and fedoras and suspenders on men always stylish. But that's neither here nor there.)

I suppose I want more originality in the world, despite the fact that I know Everything's Been Done Before. I suppose I want someone to tell me that original books are being published despite the large amounts of similar plotlines in the stores (look, for example, at the vast amount of mysteries in which a cat is a major character, or ones that revolve around "gimmicks," i.e. recipes or knitting patterns in the back).

And this is not to say that I don't like sequels. That's simply Not True. There are many authors out there that write novels about the same characters that I adore: Greg Rucka, Diana Gabaldon, Charlaine Harris, Stephen King, Connie Willis, Jim Butcher, the list could go on and on. But I find there's a difference between an extended collection of works on the same characters and the serialization of formula-driven plots.

All of this to say that I realized most of my recent blogs were about the same things, over and over again, and that's not why I started this blog. So something different to chew on while I try expand my own horizons.

2 Comments:

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I'm not a violent person, by any stretch, but I wouldn't definitely try to inflict serious pain on anyone who laid their mitts on Casablanca!

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger Oxymoron said...

parachute pants were/are cool.

 

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