As I was cleaning the kitchen and planning a blog posting, I finally realized the justification for remaking movies. And so, I rushed down here (true story) and started typing.
Yes, money is a big motivator. The fans of the original can be counted on to show up to a remake, even if it’s terrible, so the lure of a pre-built audience is a tempting argument in favour of remakes. But when you go deeper down, there’s a more meaningful purpose.The remake re-contextualizes a piece of our modern culture into a frame of reference that can be understood by a new generational audience.
Back to the kitchen: as I was thinking about another post describing my cold war against the crazy parts of my brain, I wanted to talk about how I’m a creature of routine and habit, and disrupting that puts me into a tizzy (even if I don’t realize it). I planned on referencing the movie Rainman “Definitely watch tv but lights out at 11PM. 10 minutes til Wapner”. And then I wondered if anyone reading this who was under the age of 30 would get the reference. You could argue that those people should watch the original instead of a remake, but the original has a specific existence in our timeline. It’s full of topical 80’s references that would have no real value today. A remake done properly would replace those dated references with markposts of our current age.
So there’s the cultural value in doing a remake. If someone comes along and does a decent remake of Rainman, then a whole new generation will add the memorable lines of dialogue to their language. Our collective societal memory is strengthened and added to by this process. And when we’re very lucky, a remake comes along that stays true to the characters but takes the art to a new level, like Batman Begins.
And for those few people out there who love my ongoing dissection of my own craziness, never fear. We’ll get around to that again. I’m still plenty nuts.