There’s an old saying that plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, and if you’re a movie buff like me, it’s certainly being proved true. As an avid moviegoer for six decades now, I’ve recently become amazed at how pervasive sequels, remakes or reboots have become in our local cinema. From Mary Poppins, to Mowgli, Godzilla and literally scores of others, producers seem obsessed with mining and remining the same vein of creative celluloid (or I guess digital) ore over and over to maximize returns for investors.
A recent trip to the theater revealed that more than half of the films were derivatives of a previous movie, and the lines to see them were long, so I guess the formula works. Of course, occasionally the second attempt is superior to the original, as was the case in Godfather II and The Empire Strikes Back, but for the most part, the plotlines the second time around tend to be hackneyed and predictable.
Another interesting and somewhat disturbing trend has been the move led by Disney to ransack its iconic cartoon library to create live-action remakes of classics such as the Sword in the Stone, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast, the Jungle Book, Aladdin, the Lion King, Little Mermaid, Mulan, and the list goes on.
I recently saw that Richard Pryor’s iconic 1976 comedy movie Car Wash is soon to be reprised, and that Charlies Angels will once again be solving crime. We can even anticipate a new take on Creature from the Black Lagoon, which was itself the inspiration, in part, for last year’s “Best Picture” film, The Shape of Water.
Imagine if great literature or other forms of cultural expression followed suit. What outrage would ensue at the release of Othello II, Beyond Great Expectations, The return of Jane Eyre, or my favorite, Young Hamlet.
In the meantime, my hope is that audiences will begin to demand that filmmakers exploit new and original ideas rather than following a winning formula.
One example, if you haven’t yet seen it, is Alfonso Cuarón’s outstanding new movie, Roma, an exceptional piece of cinematography and a powerful example of storytelling based on the director’s own life.
Share an example of an original movie or sequel that touched your life or inspired you.
© 2019 Tyra Manning