Nathan's Laserium: Remakes

"Everybody wants to rule the world"


I am so glad they didn't have Twitter when I was 17. Holy hell am I glad. The above is a tweet from a cool kid I follow, who sometimes is adorably naive. Who can blame him? Why should a teenager be familiar with the pop music of 1985? I remember thinking "War Pigs" was such a cool Faith No More song, and only careful (sorry, that should say obsessive) studying of the liner notes revealed it was written by a group of people whose names didn't match any of the names in Faith No More. Who the heck are Iommi, Osbourne, Butler and Ward? It wouldn't be Ozzy Osbourne, would it . . . nah!

Liner notes. Would you say they went extinct in 2004 or did a remnant population survive until 2007 or so? I know I can't recall the last time I saw one in the wild. So a 17yo kid can be forgiven for thinking the song Lorde did for the Catching Fire soundtrack was written by her. It's not like she's hiding that fact, it's just, in most situations it wouldn't even come up. But there- now you know! Lorde didn't write that song, Tears for Fears did. She did a kickass version though and I'm glad she did.

Cover songs are nothing new and almost everyone has a few dozen or so in their libraries that they love and cherish.

Why are cover movies not seen in the same way?

I worked in a Movie Gallery briefly (back before Corinne and I went to New Zealand) and I had a minor sort of epiphany there one day while looking at all the movie posters we had. Movies are like plays! Yes, I was 29 before I figured that out. Like I said, glad we didn't have Twitter when I was a teenager.

Once upon a time there was a famous English actor who was knighted by the King or maybe Queen whose theater company presented the definitive, best, most amazing version of Hamlet ever of all time. For eternity! This is almost certainly a true story but I am completely culture-blind to this sort of thing. But you probably know who I'm talking about, even if I don't. My point is simply, did that stop everyone else from ever performing Hamlet ever again? Of course not.

Obviously the ephemeral nature of a live theater performance is a completely different thing than the concrete and eternal nature of a motion picture, and that's led to many different and important distinctions and separations between the two. For one thing, the script of a play is sacrosanct, and no one may ever alter a word. Whereas a screenplay can be altered by anyone from the director to the best boy's barista.

Corinne is of the perfectly worthy opinion that the original movie version of Annie is sublime. Fair enough. For me it represents maybe the worst movie-going experience of my life. I saw it with my sister when we were kids and it came to the tiny little movie theater in Hinton. I hated that movie so much. It was not made for me. At all. At all at all. And I wasn't allowed to leave. I have no problem saying it is undoubtedly a quality piece of art and maybe even a perfect movie. But I will never watch it again in my life.

What's that? They made a new version starring Quvenzhané Wallis? I'm intrigued, tell me more. Seriously! I'm interested. Still might not wind up being the movie for me, but maybe my little girls will love it. I hope they do. I might even take them to it, or get them the blu-ray. Because just like a cover song can bring an interesting new light to a cherished original, or perhaps even introduce you to a work of art you had no idea even existed, I think remakes of movies can say something new and bring in a new audience.

I'm giving Hollywood a bit of credit by assuming artistic merit drives its decisions, but of course there is a more cynical reality. Sony has to keep making a Spidey movie at least every 5 years or the rights revert to Marvel. And so forth. But there are artists in Hollywood, a great many of them, and I hope they can make the projects of their dreams, even if it's a remake.

My dream remake project: Dark Crystal, directed by Jennifer Lee. Starring Lorde, or at least her voice!


- Nathan Waddell