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When is a remake not a remake?

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Mark Kermode | 11:47 UK time, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Coen brothers' True Grit starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon may be regarded as a variant on Henry Hathaway's True Grit starring John Wayne and Glen Campbell, but as far as I'm concerned it is something much more than a remake. So just what is it that distinguishes a fine new retelling of a forty-year-old Western from a mindless American remake of a Swedish vampire movie, say?

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    It seems to be a reinterpretation if you like it, and a remake if you don't.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think it possibly has something to do with the distance between projects. The problem is with Let Me In, that the film was in recent memory of both the audience and the filmmakers, so Let Me In may have been intentioned as a re-imagining but visually the films are very similar. Now take the Coens True Grit or John Carpenter's The Thing there's a sizeable gap between the movies, about 30 to 40 years which allows you to update it with the current trend of how cinema looks and feels, at that specific moment in time.

    The Hathaway True Grit looks very much like a 60's movie in its acting style and visual sheen, while the Coens True Grit is a very modern movie despite the period setting. Same goes for all the decent remakes:

    It also helps when you have talent behind the camera, most shoddy remakes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street most recently have more fledgling filmmakers who have not yet learnt their craft. The Coens, Carpenter, Scorsese were all very much at the height of their creative careers when they stepped up and chose to retool some of the classic movies for a new audience. Which is also why I think there is no reason to be apprehensive about Fincher's remake of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, he is now at the pinnacle of his craft and will be able to create something which atones to his sensibilities.

  • Comment number 3.

    A bit snide perhaps?
    It's a remake if it doesn't add anything new and fresh - e.g. Gus van Sant's 'Psycho - but a reinterpretation if it's doing something different with the source material than what has been done previously (e.g. the various versions of 'The 39 Steps', or the Wallander films and TV versions).

  • Comment number 4.

    It breaks down like this:

    A "REMAKE" takes the key elements from the original film, reproduces them, and tries to make it "BETTER".

    A "NON-REMAKE" ACKNOWLEDGES key elements from the original film, and or original source material, and tries to make something "DIFFERENT".

  • Comment number 5.


    reinterpretation if it's primarily a work of art. remake if it's primarily a work of commerce.

  • Comment number 6.

    Must echo the comments made by Paul above, he hit it right on the head. A remake is not a remake when it brings something new, original, and different to the table that was not done by the original. If it is purely relying on the formula of the original to duplicate success, then it's simply a remake.

  • Comment number 7.

    There's also the case that sometimes a remake needs to be done at some point if it's to be done properly - Gus Van Sant remade Psycho in 1998 becasue, as he put it, "So noone else would".

  • Comment number 8.

    Original sources? Is the Kenneth Branagh Hamlet a remake of the Mel Gibson Hamlet or the Laurence Olivier Hamlet? The Coens' version of The Ladykillers (which I thought was a very interesting if not entirely successful film, but I have no great love for the Ealing original) has no other source, but could the recent dismal hackjob of The Taking Of Pelham 123 be classified as another adaptation of the source novel? Is the Daniel Craig Casino Royale a second adaptation of the Fleming novel or a mere remake of the David Niven film?

    My question is: would the Coens have made True Grit if there wasn't already an original? Would Carpenter have made The Thing, and would Matt Reeves have made Let Me In if they hadn't been made before?

  • Comment number 9.

    I suspect it depends also on what is seen as the "primary source". In the film Psycho, the character of Norman Bates was simplified from the more complex character in the Robert Bloch novel, and this was carried through to the remake. In other words, it seems that Gus Van Sant took the Hitchcock film as his primary source.

    One example from the past that's puzzled me is "High Society" (1956, with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly & Frank Sinatra), which I've always understood to be a remake of "The Philadelphia Story (1940, with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant & James Stewart). The story (originally a play) is not particularly substantial, leaving plenty of room for improvisation (Hepburn goes swimming) in the 1940 film and musical numbers (Who wants to be a millionaire? I do!) in the 1956 film. Can we call a film a remake if the source material is open to substantial reinterpretation? Carpenter's "The Thing" might also fall in to this category.

  • Comment number 10.

    streetrw raises an interesting point: Despite John Carpenter's 'The Thing' being a reinterpretation of the original short story, 'Who Goes There?', would the film still have been made had the original 'Thing From Another World' not? Since it's one of Carpenter's favourite films, I doubt it. So in that sense, 'The Thing' IS indeed a remake!

  • Comment number 11.

    Remake or reinterpretation? it's different names for the same thing. The movie industry recycling.

    'The business' seems to use reinterpretation if the original film came from the adaptation of a book or other none film source material and remake if the original film was from an original screen play.

    They also use reinterpretation if the original film is well loved and they are simply trying to cover their shame for making money from the originals carcass or name.

    Reinterpretations and remakes are usually down to studio number crunchers with a lack of imagination recycling plots and names to try and ensure profit. There's also a complete disregard for the intelligence of the audience, assuming that they can't handle the fact the original may be in black and white or not into full HD quality.

    There are however notable exceptions:

    Is Evil Dead 2 is a reinterpretation of Evil Dead?

    Peter Jackson's King Kong is a remake of the 1933 King Kong. But is the 1949 Mighty Joe Young a reinterpretation of King Kong? Or just a shared idea?

    Is The Magnificent Seven a reinterpretation of The Seven Samauri, the films are vastly different but one was written after seeing the other.

    The latest Casino Royale shares a name with the 1966 comedy but is it a remake or reinterpretation? No, because the original film had nothing to do with the book.

    It's complicated, some films should simply have "Based on" or "Inspired by" and people should view them as nothing but original.

  • Comment number 12.

    Off topic Mark, but have you read Roger Ebert's latest blog? Renowned film-editor Walter Murch offers the most convincing argument yet why 3D will never work:

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/01/post_4.html

  • Comment number 13.

    For me the main aspect is the source material; be it a written work or a well known/documented historic event.

    There are at least three films telling the story of the mutiny on the Bounty but I would not say that the latter two were remakes of the first. I’d say that they were reinterpretations of what happened.

    Lots of well known literature has been dramatised over and over again and these would also fall into the reinterpretation category, even ones made shortly after one another eg; In Cold Blood and Notorious.

    It all becomes a but greyer when the source material is not so well known. I've never read Let The Right One in. I've also not seen Let Me In but from Dr K's review the US team were aware of and made too much use of the film for it to be a reinterpretation of the book. By all accounts it was a Western remake of the film. And in this instance True Grit is probably therefore a remake of a film rather than a reinterpretation of the book. As others have said, there must be some remakes/interpretations that would never have existed had the first film not been made (sadly Let Me In and Let The Right One In is one of these).

    Take The Departed Vs Infernal Affairs. I don’t know or care if there was a book that preceded the HK film but I do wonder if Scorsese added some of the gumpf to his plot to try to hide the fact that his film was a simple remake of something that was perfectly good in the first place.

    Short answer

    Reinterpretation = A film drawn from well known existing source material.
    Remake = The only source material is an existing film that came from no or not widely known source material.

  • Comment number 14.

    A remake, particularly with Let Me In and others, the filmmakers basically remake exactly the same film adding nothing new to the material but simply repackaging it for another audience. For instance with Gus Van Sant's Psycho, that film is a remake simply because it takes the original and simply updates it shot for shot. Likewise with Let Me In while not exactly shot for shot it basically, pointlessly takes everything from the original and simply repackages it for english language mainstream audience.

    With John Carpenter's The Thing, he actually took the bare concept of the original film and source material and reinterpreted the film in his own vision, not making it shot for shot but simply giving the film it's own identity thus justifying it's own existence. Steven Soderbergh's remake of Ocean's Eleven was justified in it's existence because it presented a new take on the material and was vastly different from the original that it justified it's existence. Even though it wasn't in my opinion a completely successful film, Tim Burton's adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was justified because it took the original source novel and went in a completely different direction than the original Gene Wilder musical.

    With different interpretations of source material such as True Grit, a filmmaker has to put their own unique take on the material revealing something about it and doing something different than the original adaptation in order to justify it's place. Having not seen True Grit I believe that the Coens, being skilled filmmakers, would put their own take on the source material making it different and putting their own spin on it that vastly marks it out from the original Hathaway/Wayne film.

    Remakes today such as Let Me In or A Nightmare on Elm Street do not justify their existence because they do not add anything to the material that wasn't there before. These films are simply repackaged for a modern audience.

    Thus for a remake or new adaptation to work, the filmmakers have to give the new film it's own identity marking it out in some way that is vastly different than the original taking it in completely new directions that we never knew. While this may not always be successful, these films are far more justified than simple, lazy shot for shot remakes that are simply repackaged for a modern mainstream audience.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 15.

    Not knowing fully the circumstances behind the Coen Brothers decision to make their own version of True Grit, I always thought the difference between a re-imagining and a remake is one comes from the insistence and passion of a director (The Thing, Evil Dead 2, PJ’s King Kong) the other at the request of a faceless suited studio goon holding a cash-filled briefcase (The Ring, The Eye, Let Me In). Like most cinema these days it comes down to “not for profit” vs. “not for merit”.

  • Comment number 16.

    Is it true that Michael Bay is trying to remake The Exorcist?

    But would it be considered a remake or a reinterpretation?

  • Comment number 17.

    A remake provides nothing distinct from the original beyond the superficial; a reinterpretation does just the opposite, for better or worse.

  • Comment number 18.

    This is a difficult one to generalise.

    There's the now standard american language re-makes of foreign language films (Let the right one in, Rec, The Grudge) which seem entirely about pandering to an audience who are either too lazy to read subtitles or simply alienated by a dialect that isn't their own. Most of these films are, as Mark says, pointless; even if some of them are perfectly functional (they are, after all, based on very good films).

    Then there's your more blatant cash-ins like Pellham 123, A Nightmare on Elm Street, blah, blah, blah... all that.

    But what about re-boots? Are they not re-makes? Is Batman Begins not just another Remake. Is not this new Spiderman which we've all been told to expect essentially just another remake? The latest Star trek film for all intents and purposes asks you to completely disregard everything that has gone before it and so is as good as remaking the history of the story it is supposed to be continuing or expanding on.

    Red Dragon could make the same argument about Manhunter that the Coens are claiming about True Grit; but there's no getting away from the fact that Red Dragon was a remake; blatantly produced to capitalise on the audiences love of Anthony Hopkins as Lector.

    But hey, I enjoyed Star Trek. And Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were both fantastic films. True Grit probably is a remake. If it's a good film then who cares?

  • Comment number 19.

    Surely the clue is in the terms?

    Remake - you take a film and literally remake it, do the same thing again, but with different cast/crew, "modern" filming techniques, update special effects and generally attempt to "improve" on the original in a way that doesn't fundamentally alter the story.

    Re-interpretation - you go back to the original source material of a film and write a fresh script based on that material, paying little attention to what was done in the original film version, and create a new vision that is different.

  • Comment number 20.

    @ TheHalfWit

    Agreed, Despite both being made from a book* Red Dragon was, I think, made purely to gat another film in the Anthony Hopkins as Lecter franchise. I much prefered Manhunter even though I saw it after the Hopkins films.

    *I suppose you could argue that the later Hopkins films took a different take on the Lecter character but in this instance, It felt like a cash in.

  • Comment number 21.

    OK, we're really going to wander down this semantic blind alley again? At the end of the day it doesn't matter whether a film has source material that is original, from a previous film, or from a book or a play. It's either a good movie or not.

    If something has already been made, and it is made again, it is a remake. That's regardless whether it has been made "fresh" from the same source material, or as an "homage" to the previous version. The "reinterpretation" designation was invented as a rationalization from film makers scared of being tarred with the brush of the lazy cash cow do-overs green lit by accountants. And, unless you go a few steps farther than Van Sant's Psycho and not only do a shot for shot, but also use exactly the same script cast and crew as the original, your remake is necessarily a reinterpretation.

    Which you call it depends on your level of pretension, or your need to get defensive about your intent. Suck it up artistes, they're the same thing.

    (I suggest the JLBorges story: Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, about a writer who wants to re-write Don Quixote, but word for word as it already exists, but from his perspective).

  • Comment number 22.

    Although, of course, "reimagining" ala Tim Burton, means, "I don't care about or understand any of the source material, but I have a great art department."

  • Comment number 23.

    I couldn't find a recent 3d blog and you may even have already seem this but this is surely the most significant piece of professional evidence showcasing the FACT that 3d doesn't and, more importantly, will not ever work:

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/01/post_4.html

    Sorry for the irrelevance to the thread.

  • Comment number 24.

    An interesting fact:
    When Tim Burton's version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released it was cited as being much closer to the book itself. Ironically, the person who wrote the screenplay for the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was Roald Dahl.

    *another interesting note: The reason the original was retitled Willy Wonka over Charlie was because "Charlie", of course, was a derogatory term used for the Viet Kong at the time.

  • Comment number 25.

    I think that if they're based on the same source material more than the film they can be considered not to be remakes but if it's clear that the second adaptation has similarities to the first film it is fair to call it a remake (ie. Let Me In), but judgment often does falls under a film to film basis.

    What's strange is I'm happy to not consider Christopher Nolan's Batman series to be a saga of remakes of Tim Burton's films (and certainly not Schumacher's) but rather a rebranding for the franchise.
    Then again, if you look at certain sequences in Begins and Dark Knight, they bare striking resemblances to sequences in Burton's films. Examples being both Begins and Batman(1989) include an escape sequence in which Batman rescues the love interest, escapes a car chase, informs the love interest of an impending plot in his Bat-cave and then sedates her, causing her to wake up in her own bed with the information she needs.

    Both Dark Knight and Batman(1989) have a scene in which Batman attempts a vehicular head on collision with The Joker but crashes at the last moment, and there's even a moment in Batman Returns(1992) when our hero discards parts of the Batmobile, mid-chase, and strips down to the vehicle's bare components to keep moving, similar to the introduction of the Bat-Pod in The Dark Knight.

    I still don't consider the new series to be remakes but I find those elements to be compelling contradictions and I think it's very difficult to find a simple and solid definitive statement on the topic of remakes and re-imaginings.

  • Comment number 26.

    Frankly, a 'remake' is simply a marketing strategy to recapitalize on a successful film that has fallen into obscurity, at least by the standards of the average, drooling, idiotic moviegoer. The remake is just a recapitulation of a previously successful work, except it's now flashier, sexier and louder.

    A reinterpretation is an actual artistic endeavor that either tries to bring a unique spin to a story, or go back and be faithful to the original source material, while distancing itself from the idea that's it's just a rehashing of what's already been seen.

  • Comment number 27.

    I really don't think it matters and I really don't care.

    Remake, reboot, reinterpretation, redux etc.. are just labels that ultimately have no effect on whether or not a film is any good.
    I think the term 'remake' has gained a bad rep over the years due to the deluge of awful cash-in remakes in recent years. I'm not surprised the promoters of True Grit have decided to put a different spin on it so as to avoid being associated with the kind of hack directors who have decided that they can 'add something' to an already classic film.

    A good film is a good film and the origin of the source material shouldn't have any effect on our opinions on it. I remember recently on this blog Dr K mentioned that he preferred the Richard Gere remake of Breathless to the original; Many film classicists may view that as a sacreligious thing to say but to me, it's a just an honest opinion.


    On a side note: I think if you are going to remake a film, go for something in the sci-fi horror genre. My top 3 remakes of all time fit into this category: The Fly, The Thing and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

  • Comment number 28.

    A re-interpretation is one that seeks to enhance the original, delivered by proven, capable directors. A re-make is an ill-thought out cash-in on something originally great, then ruined by jobbing makeweights cranking out brainless studio fodder in time for the summer blockbuster season.

    The former can be good (not always). Planet of the Apes was a massive disappointment but with some nice touches; The Thing was terrific as was Day of the Dead and Star Trek; The Magnificent Seven? Perfection.

    The lowly re-make is almost always poor, pointless and obviously so. The Wicker Man; The Italian Job; Red Dragon; Nightmare on Elm Street; Texas Chainsaw Massacre. All clumsy, pay cheque, join-the-dots insults to great originals, made by morons with neither soul nor subtlety.

    Which way the coin falls is all down to the director I reckon. Give it to talent then you'll generally have something worth the candle as they'll naturally want to enhance, re-imagine and satisfy the legacy. Give it to cross-eyed mechanics and they'll just build you an ugly counterfeit machine that doesn't work.

  • Comment number 29.

    When is a remake not a remake? When you're unaware of its template.

  • Comment number 30.

    #25 - Don't forget the Joker having a meeting with the Mob in both Batman & The Dark Knight - in both instances killing someone, and his plummet at the end of both with a Batgrapple attached to his leg.

  • Comment number 31.

    its a reinterpretation if it takes the themes of the orginal film or source matrial and either uses them in a different way or builds and adds upon then. if it just adds some big explosions or actors just tying too copy the previous performance etc then it a remake.
    remake = cash in and lazyness
    reinterpretation = new ideas and respect for source material

  • Comment number 32.

    Glad to see that you wrote "UK" and not "Britain".
    "Britain" is just plain wrong (it doesn't include N.Ireland) and "British" could mean "British Isles" or "British Islands" which are rather different terms. On the other hand, "United Kingdom" doesn't include the Isle of Man or Channel Isles and there is also a United Kingdom of Denmark and UK does not have a derived adjective.

    I know, why don't you just say "Here, in England" when you are in England, that way you will never be "wrong" even if you are always "incorrect".

  • Comment number 33.

    When is a remake not a remake?

    When it’s Casino Royale.

  • Comment number 34.

    I recently watched the original film version of The War of the Worlds, having heard Mark's thoughts on Spielberg's version and seen bits of that film.

    I agree with a lot of people on this blog in that I think it comes down to one's approach to the source. The original novel of War of the Worlds is so much about British imperialism being turned on its head, or about Herbert Spencer's theories of natural selection being played out in an extreme kind of thought experiment. But both the American versions abandon this in favour of a more straightforward (but still compelling) political battle: the 1950s version transports the story to the Cold War with the Martians as communists, and the Spielberg version is about ordinary people trying to survive from terrorists.

    That and the 1950s version fudges the already rubbish ending by trying to make out that God was involved, which in the context of this film doesn't cut the mustard.

  • Comment number 35.

    BTW, I know it's off-topic, but this is important:

    The Oscar nominations came out today.

    Mostly they're on the money, but...

    NO BEST DIRECTOR NOD FOR CHRISTOPHER NOLAN?! COME ON!

    Knowing the Academy they'll now do the really stupid thing and give the award to David O. Russell, who'll then go and make more terribly flatulent films like I Heart Huckabees [vomits]

  • Comment number 36.

    @Antimode:

    Or he could say "here, in London" or even "here, in this particular building I'm currently occupying", or even "Here, in the bathroom", or even "here, within the confides of my skull" or even...(Ad Nauseam)

    England != Britain

    I'm sorry but it makes a difference, no matter which way you mock or diminish the point.

    (I thought his response was pretty funny, as it happens).

  • Comment number 37.

    I suppose all good writers and film-makers steal, to varying degrees, from somewhere. What distinguishes a good film from a poor one is what is done with the material and how it is crafted into something original. Stealing an idea, from either a book or an earlier film, and turning it into something else doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be boring and uninspired; copying, on the other hand, is just plain lazy.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm not sure how they could claim that Let Me In wasn't a remake when some of the scenes are visually identical.

  • Comment number 39.

    @Antimode , you and mark are wrong. Nobody talk about being UKish, the histoy and traditions of the UK, or UKish cinema.The term "UK" is just souless bureauratic pedantry.

  • Comment number 40.

    I believe before a remake is even put into motion, it MUST meet point one of these critera, and then at LEAST one of the others that follow:

    1 - THE IDEA MUST BE WORTHY OF A REMAKE FROM THE GET-GO; NO POINT REMAKING SOMETHING THAT WASN'T WORTHY OF ANYONE'S TIME IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND ISN'T RELEVANT NOW!

    2 - The filmmakers aren't deluding themselves, and feel they really will do it better; the story better told, with a new, interesting, up-to-date spin on it that the filmmakers genuinely believe in (The Thing, The Fly, etc)

    3 - The filmmakers believe they can revisit the source and make the film they feel SHOULD have been made the first time round; in other words, they think the first time it was disloyal or simply badly done, and they really think they can do the better, more loyal version ("Willy Wonka" could be an argument, or "Dracula" perhaps)

    Under NO circumstances should something be remade if it is only going to be a shot-for-shot rehash, a "re-interpretation", which usually just means screwing with the original idea so much that it becomes unrecognisable, an adaption from foreign language for lazy people who don't want to bother with subtitles, or an updating of an "important film that shouldn't be forgotten" ("Psycho", "I Am Legend", "Let Me In", and "Straw Dogs" respectively).

    The last argument of this list is particularly annoying, as it does not wash; if a film is that important, simply promote it again...don't touch a butterfly's wings if you want it to fly!

  • Comment number 41.

    What ever you call it a re-make or reinterpretation, ostensibly you end up going over the same or at least similar ground but with a different spin on it. Now I'm not saying that's wrong, but personally I'm a bit of a purist and there are not many (I'll call them rehashes )that I have enjoyed as much as the original no matter what format they have been 're-presented' in. You only have to look at Hollywood's attempt at the Japanese classics like The Grudge,The Ring and Spain's REC to name but a few, to realise 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'. However I do want to see for myself what the Coen's have done with True Grit just to satisfy my curiosity of course.:-)

  • Comment number 42.

    Remakes are pretty much a waste of time, in my opinion. What's the point of remaking a movie? I mean, really... It's swarming with unoriginal and predictable stuff out there already. So why put all that energy, time and money into doing something which has already been done? Let's see something new! Something exciting! Something memorable!
    SOME remakes are worthwhile endeavors, perhaps. E.g. when somebody is in love with a certain movie and they think they can add something to it, which makes the whole thing fresh and exciting. Or when they think they can make the ideas in that movie come to life even better using today's technology or something like that... That's maybe worth one's time, effort and money. But otherwise what's the point?
    For heaven's sake, explore some new ideas and break some new ground instead of recycling the same old stuff, people. Sheesh.

  • Comment number 43.

    The Magnificent Seven is my favourite western. I never consider it a remake but an original take on a concept.

    I generally loathe remakes but if they are to continue to appear in cinemas, I'd sooner filmmakers remake films that didn't quite work, or that were complete rubbish, as opposed to constantly targeting classics and cult favourites. Remake Jaws 3 or - if they're feeling particularly brave - The Revenge! Leave Spielberg's masterpiece (and, in my opinion, Jaws 2) alone!

    I'll go and see True Grit because - whether or not you class it as a remake - the Wayne/Hathaway version was an emphatically average offering.

  • Comment number 44.

    Two words: The Fly.
    'Nuff said.

  • Comment number 45.

    We can of course cite a film which has the perfect example of both a retelling, and a remake. That film being King Kong. The 1933 original, the 1976 retelling, and the 2005 remake of the 1933 film.

  • Comment number 46.

    'Remake' is a term that I would not often use. Certainly, if a film is based on a literary property (such as 'True Grit' or the forthcoming Americanised 'Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'), then 'new version of' is preferable. After all, why should the first adaptation of a book enjoy a higher status than any other versions? Think of it like this: would you consider Branagh's 'Hamlet' to be a 'remake' of Olivier's 'Hamlet'? Probably not; you would tend to view them as different productions of the same play. Why take a different line with, say, a novel? A 'remake' to me would be a film that is based on a story that only ever previously existed as another film - which is quite a rarity. One could admit Gus Van Sant's 'Psycho' or Michael Mann's "Last of the Mohicans' which use exactly the same scripts as older films, but even these are, ultimately, adaptations of novels. As someone said above, the different treatments of the 'King Kong' story would qualify as remakes, but, beyond that, I'm struggling...

  • Comment number 47.

    It's got to be the basis of the story, if the story follows the source material then it is a re-interpretation if however it follows the same discrepencies from the source material as the original film then it is a re-make.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think the difference between a 'remake' and a 'reinterpretation' comes down to intention. Surely a 'reinterpretation' is a new version of an existing story when the people in charge feel they can bring something new, or maybe simply tell the story better, than the source original material.
    Case in point: the remakes Douglas Sirk made, Imitation of Life and Magnificent Obsession. Sirk took the sources and took them further, made them pointed, ironic and scathing.
    A remake, on the other hand, is an attempt to squeeze a bit more out of a name/idea/concept.

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm almost convinced that Star Wars is actually a 'remake' of Lord of the Rings. Lucas has nicked and remixed the story through out all of the episodes. For Yoda try Gandalf spliced with Golem. The corruption of the Ring read Turning to the Darkside. Twin Towers = Two Death Stars. Obe Wan = Sam in EP3(tries to save/battles Fredo/Anakin over fiery lakes of Lava. I bet if you had far too much time on your hands you could even re-edit the whole of the Star Wars movies to the Lord of the rings sound track and it would match perfectly..ish

  • Comment number 50.

    Classic directors didn't feel the need to quibble about remakes, Hitchcock remade The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Howard Hawks remade Rio Bravo twice.

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm not sure about the whole remake/reinterpretation thing but I've found that the main difference between enjoyable remakes and completely pants remakes seems to be intent.

    As I've heard you talk about before, William Friedkin's Sorcerer might not be as good a film as Wages of Fear (depending on one's tastes) but it is a very different film so it's not completely pointless. The same goes the many film versions of Hammett's Red Harvest which take the bones of the story and move it through history, places and themes. I would put lots of films (all of varying quality) in this category;

    Scorcese and Monaghan's thematically identical but genuinely geographically altered The Departed.
    Brian Helegeland's director's cut of Payback is a more faithful version of Stark's novel than Point Blank was but it's clearly not a better film.
    Soderbergh's Solaris, again not as good as the original but the two aren't really comparable in anything other than plot synopsis and character names.
    Jackson's King Kong, I didn't particularly like it but you can tell that somebody put a lot of love into it (if not nearly enough editing)

    As with the difference between a good sequel and a bad sequel the main flaw in the remake game is flat out money grabbing. The recent slew of terrible horror remakes just seems to stem from companies looking for recognizable titles to reissue for profits. The targets for this category are many and varied and I'm tired of seeing people cut the finger's off of films that I love.

    The strange middle ground is movies where something was attempted and just didn't work. A lot of foreign language remakes end up here. Might I add that many of these feature Richard Gere. I tend to not watch remakes of films that I really like so I can't comment on Let Me In but I'm guessing that it would be somewhere hereabouts.

    Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. It is different but it's also rubbish and they were clearly trying to make lots of money
    Gus Van Sant's Psycho. I really don't know what was going on there

  • Comment number 52.

    To Phil thomas,
    This doesn't seem to be entirely true, because I remember Mark calling "Sleuth" a reimagining rather than a remake, while also saying that it didn't work.

    In an interview, Pinter who wrote the 2007 version of "Sleuth" stated that he had never seen the original movie but adapted it directly from the play which he had only read. One would think that you can't remake a movie that you haven't seen.

    But I don't think that is the entire truth. Because the other people involved in the project might have seen the 1972 version (and indeed, Michael Caine played the major role in the original movie). This must have influenced their actions in some way. Even if those actions were getting as far away from the original material as possible.

  • Comment number 53.

    Well I have always argued to people that The Thing (aka the greatest film ever made) is not a remake. Other than using the font of the title as a homage to the original they couldn't be more different. He truly went back to the source novella and made a much more true adaptation of that work. I think of remakes as things that largely remake the film and this happens more often with remakes of original films that are not based on any literature (like NIghtmare on Elm Street).

  • Comment number 54.

    Mark, if you apply the "they just went back to the source material and adapted it differently" line, there's hardly any film that can be properly classified as a remake (other than Haneke's US version of "Funny Games" maybe which is a carbon copy of the original, just with different actors and in the English language).

    If a film is made based on a specific source material, that's the original. If later another film is made based on the same source material, it's a remake. It doesn't matter how close it remains to the original adaptation.

  • Comment number 55.

    Phil Kaufmans 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a great film on its own merits

    Abel Ferraras version is also pretty sharp

    Where as the Invasion feels like a remake and its terrible,its amazing how 3 films can be different depending on the director and there vision

  • Comment number 56.

    I liked the girl in this, but didn't like the film that much after the first fifteen minutes or so. At points i was thinking they should shut up and do something. Matt Damon's character left me wondering why he was in the film at all, but that might have been due to a poor casting choice. I also felt somewhat shocked by the ending, it felt so abrupt and out of sync with the rest of the film. The grown up who replaced the girl also didn't fit with me and I was left wondering if I had missed something.

    Overall, not a film I would want to watch again.

  • Comment number 57.

    It seems that the underlying factor between remakes and interpretations or 're-imaginings' is as follows. Take the Dracula movies as an example; what makes these re-interpretations is the fact that they differ so greatly; from 'Nosferatu' to the Universal Horror Cycle to Hammer and later to 'Bram Stoker's Dracula'. Each one in turn is different in style, theme and execution and the respective performances of Lugosi, Lee amd Oldman creates completely different 'Counts' linked only by their varying affiliation to Stoker's source material.

    As for remakes, a popular reference appears to be Gus Van Sant's 'Psycho' which is an unashamed tracing of Hitchcock's original. With no effort towards creating ANYTHING remotely original or to add his own stamp, such directors and their subsequent movies just insult their profession and other professionals who attempt to do things that are fresh and original. Unfortunately, with a 'Total Recall' remake on the cards I doubt the problem will be made clearer any time soon.

    Trouble with this predicament though Dr. K, what do we call Evil Dead 2?

  • Comment number 58.

    A remake is when the studio decides that theres more money to be made from a pre-existing film that won't reach the market they want to appeal to either because its a foreign language film or its very dated. Or simply because its a direct copy of the original.

    It's not a remake when the source material has genuinely been used and it's not just a claim to get people to take the film seriously.

  • Comment number 59.


    Interesting one this Dr K,

    Completely agree with you on the Let Me In/The Right One In. The problem is that they are so similar, the 're-make' was quite obviously heavily influenced on the original film, whether they went back to the source material or not.

    Point in fact, is that if you have seen the original interpretation, it is humanly impossible to be uninfluenced by it when 're-making' it. Therefore, a remake is a remake in conventional terms.

    A good comparison perhaps is in the pop charts, where they call this kind of behaiour plagiarism. Maybe the difference in film is that the film studios ultimatly own the rights and can sell and commission at will in order to make money, and for some reason this is more accepted by the public than in music, where it is frowned upon. Just a theory, you'll know more about all that than me!

    Still can't wait to see True Grit though. Is that ironic, or proof of point?

  • Comment number 60.

    Hmm, good point Macphisto89. How about remakes made by the makers of the original film?

    Evil Dead 2 can be seen as both a sequel and a re-interpretation of the original as can Tetsuo 2: Body Hammer; both films referencing their own source material but also creating a stand alone film at the same time.

    In regards to True Grit, you have to wonder that if Coen Bros are insisting that they are going back to the source material instead of making a remake why didn't they think of a new name for the film? People are obviously going to view it as a remake of the John Wayne original.

  • Comment number 61.

    @Stuart Yates

    It could be argued that Bay's The Island was a remake of the 1976 film version of Logan's Run, which was nothing like the source novel. The source novel was actually much closer to GATTACA.

  • Comment number 62.

    simply put, a film is a remake when the text already exists beforehand, all be it in a different form. this says nothing of the worth of the film, just that it already exist somewhere else.

    to say that a remake is not a remake is a contradiction in terms. however, certain titanic plays have been staged over and over again in different ways and this is acceptable because we recognize both the original author, such as the Shakespeare's of this world, and the artistic interpretation of the director, or who ever is making the film (whats the same and whats different).

  • Comment number 63.

    #49 - And is not The Lord of the Rings itself a re-tread of the countless myths / legends / fables out there?

    Indeed, a large part of Tolkien's motivation was to fill the void, as he saw it, in English mythology.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ Chris Page

    I thought we all agreed five years ago that The Island was just a rip off of "The Clonus Horror"? (And I mean 'we all' in the same way in which The Good Doctor deploys the phrase "Everyone knows" as a shorthand for his own opinion.)

  • Comment number 65.

    One my favourite movies ever is the great Micheal Mann crime epic, Heat, which is technically a remake or expansion on his own 1989 TV movie, LA Takedown. A remake sure but has more plot strands and, well, production value then the original. A movie that you are unjustly hard on and you are, (with all due respect), wrong in this case, , is Martin Scorsese's remake of Cape Fear. The original Cape Fear with Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck was more black and white (no pun intended). There was just good and bad. Scorsese took a more challenging look at good and bad and saw there was shades of grey. The sexual arousal that Cady elicits from both Sam's wife and daughter is palpable, Sam is not shown as clean cut good guy and Scorsese manages to inject religious aspects into the film. A supreme example of the remake managing to hold its own against the original. Give it another chance good doctor, you're diagnosis is incorrect. It's vastly superior to Shutter Island which I didn't care for. AND FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE WATCH THE BIG LEBOWSKI AGAIN!

  • Comment number 66.

    When is a remake not a remake? When its a re-boot! The up-coming Spiderman film is especially worrying. Are movie studios so lacking in ideas that they are now having to remake films (and re-launch franchises) that are barely ten years old? It is one thing to take a source novel and to produce your own interpretation (even if a film version has been done before) it is entirely something else to take a story YOU have recently adapted and to retell it just for financial purposes.

    And yes, before anyone says anything I realise that film studios exist to make money rather than enrich our lives with fantastic works of art.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ deangoldsmith

    "...I realise that film studios exist to make money rather than enrich our lives with fantastic works of art."

    lol I actually forgot about that for a second when I wrote my previous comment. *blushes*

  • Comment number 68.

    Here's an interesting question: Would you rather put up with awful remakes like 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and 'Psycho' to get the occasional 'Fly' and 'The Thing' or get rid of remakes entirely, but lose those few cinematic gems?

  • Comment number 69.

    @ Brian - new forest
    "Classic directors didn't feel the need to quibble about remakes, Hitchcock remade The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Howard Hawks remade Rio Bravo twice."
    He remade that twice? That's a super colossal waste of time. Pointless. I mean make it right the first time already! Sheesh. Also, I've never really seen the first "The man who knew too much" but it wasn't very well received by people close to Alfred which upset him. They said it had its moments but it didn't blow them off their socks. So, him remaking it saying the first was made by a novice and the second was made by a professional... I can understand that. Also, the first being black and white and the second in color... I can understand the time and effort put in. But remaking a movie TWICE? Come on. What could you possibly have to tweak and/or add? I should read up on that and see what the reason was for this strange decision! haha

  • Comment number 70.

    @ luckyBen1989

    Well, like I said; SOME remakes are worthwhile endeavors. Others...not so much.

  • Comment number 71.

    The simplistic answer is that if the inspiration was not a film it's a reinterpretation of some other source material. If the inspiration was a film, it's a remake.

    The problem with this is when the inspiration isn't clear from watching the film. This might be because:
    a) the source material is not known as well as the prior film (how many of us go back to the source material before deciding which film version was more faithful?)
    and/or
    b) the film-maker/distributor/PR machine claims that it is a new interpretation when it isn't - I imagine this is common because it sounds better.
    and/or
    c) the "reinterpretation" does contain scenes/passages that are the same/very similar as the prior film - "as an homage" perhaps).

    Then it comes down to whether you liked it or not. I think that's a tie-break question though. The term "re-make" is tarred with lazy profiteering, disrespecting cherished film memories and a legacy of failures. So if you didn't like it, as poster #1 suggests, it's a re-make.

  • Comment number 72.

    I’d be surprised if the Cohens’ True Grit differed in any significant way from Hathaway’s True Grit.

    The novel was a well received bestseller in the late 60’s and the film adaptation was faithful to the novel’s storyline and tone. It was well cast and utilised supporting actors (Duvall, Hopper, Martin etc), a cinematographer (Ballard –The Wild Bunch) and score (Elmer Bernstein – Magnificent Seven) all of whom were used to working with the western genre.

    I wouldn’t say the film is now forgotten, it is one of the few ‘classic’ westerns that keeps being repeated on TV; but I hope the Cohens have remade it because they also liked the original book/film and want to reintroduce the story to a new audience.

    In some ways it’s as commercially risky as some of their previous work; not many westerns get made nowadays; it has action but is mainly character and dialogue driven.

    Given the pedigree and that it’s been well cast I’m expecting a perfectly decent adaptation of a ‘classic’ western novel.

    What else could separate a worthy remake from a mindless cash-in (let’s exclude the remaking in English issue – if it’s a case of a remake or bad dubbing of the original I’d probably go with the former.)

    Does it refashion itself for the times it’s made in and the audience of its day? e.g Romeo & Julliet. Both Zefferelli’s 60’s version and Luhrmann’s 90’s version were good adaptations for their audiences. (The Thing, Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven, A Star Is Born, Invasion of the Body Snatchers etc also fall into this category.)

    Does the new version bring anything new, either in interpretation or execution? (e.g Carpenter’s The Thing, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars, 12 Monkeys.)

    After that I guess it comes down to the did you enjoy/hate/avoid test.
    It’s like cover songs of established classics forever identified with one singer; any cover will probably never will be a patch on the original, far less be a completely new reinterpretation; but occasionally it can happen.

  • Comment number 73.

    Dr Kermode.
    A remake isn't a remake if you don't reference it back to the original film.
    For example I've seen both The Parent Trap films.
    When I saw the remake of it with Lindsay Lohan I never ever for once while watching the film ever referenced it to the original one.
    That for me Dr Kermode is when a remake isn't a remake.

  • Comment number 74.

    Why cant American's read subtitle's? Why do they feel the need to remake foreign language film's into the inevitably terrible American counterpart?

    They are remaking the recent Swedish film 'Snabba Cash' with Zac Efron in the lead role as a damn drug runner! Man alive, what next?

    Instead of remaking good film's like Das Experiment and royally messing up, remake the bad film's, then the only way is up!

  • Comment number 75.

    Just the same as most Americans won't watch black and white movies.

    I'm surprised Mark Kermode hasn't made a video with regards to the Oscar nominations. I thought he would have had something to say about each of the categories.

  • Comment number 76.

    Doesn't the 'reboot' deserve it's own category. Something like 'Superman Returns' which isn't a remake or reimagining or reinterpretation of the 1978 Superman (by virtue of a new storyline) but is set in a timeline dictated by the first and second films. With it being supposedly set sometime after 'Superman 2'??

  • Comment number 77.

    I was just discussing this topic the other day with my exgirlfriend for her newspaper column, in which she is discussing remakes. Typical excert from out conversations.

    Me: You haven't mentioned The Maltese Falcon?!
    Her: Everyone mentions The Maltese Falcon when writing about remakes.
    Me: What?! No They don't! Know one knows it's a remake!
    Her: Exactly so every article you read about remakes includes the phrase, "It's a little known fact that John Huston's Maltese Falcon was actually the third version of the film, blah blah blah." So I'm not going to talk about it.
    Me: Can't believe you're not going to talk about The Maltese Falcon. *sulks*

    It was conversations like this which is one of the main reasons she decided we shouldn't see each other anymore.

    So the moral of this story? Getting hung up about the topic of remakes is poison to any healthy relations. You all have been warned.

  • Comment number 78.

    When it's directed by David Cronenberg or John Carpenter.

  • Comment number 79.

    @Tadhg Curtin

    I completely agree with you about Scorsese's Cape Fear being an improvement on the original. The original appears quite dated for 1962 compared with something like Anatomy of a Murder(1959) which in comparison seems quite daring and I don't think the wardrobe department was helping to scare anybody with the way they dressed Mitchum. I do however, think that the original Cape Fear (1962) is a genuine film noir even though Touch of Evil(1958) is supposed to be the last of the classic film noir period.

    You are also right about Shutter Island. It is a steaming pile of pants. And why do Kermode and Mayo keep going on about the score? Yes the honking sounds like a boat. It's Shutter Island. It's an Island. Only reachable by boat. Hello!

  • Comment number 80.

    There are some remakes that transcended their status as such, eclipsing earlier versions. Think The Maltese Falcon or Ben-Hur. To my mind a respectable remake is one that either revisits the original source material with the aim of providing a more faithful adaptation than was perhaps possible at that time, or else one that seeks to put a fresh spin, tweaking its ideas for a contemporary audience. Either approach risks outright failure, but is at least more admirable than cynically recycling an old favourite just to trade on its notoriety. Yes, Seventies horror remakes, I'm talking about you.

  • Comment number 81.

    There is something to be said for a retelling of a story not to be classified as a remake if the differences are broad enough but I think that ultimately, and technically, the derivation of material from the same source has to be called a remake. Even though the Italian Job has NOTHING in common with its predecessor (except the minis), the intentions are still there.
    My favourite remake's still Scarface though. Even though theres not a great deal in common between Hawks' and De Palma's versions it just feels like getting 2 for the price of 1! They're both fantastic films (even though the 83 version has a MUCH better ending).

    I agree with Andy though, surely more should be said about the reboot? I haven't seen either film but I'm perplexed about the Hulk's reboot just 5 years after it had been remade! Is that a remake of a remake?

  • Comment number 82.

    Actually labelling a film a remake (like the Italian Job) even though its COMPLETELY different from the original is probably just to get more people through the doors of a really awful film

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm really, really disappointed in David Fincher for taking on the idiot's version of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I'm in a minority as I didn't think much of the Swedish version. However, it obviously worked very well for the majority, so I will certainly not be going to see this complete joke of a production.

  • Comment number 84.

    With such interesting views on "remakes" versus "re-interpretation", it could be said that the majority of movies made are remakes of previous versions (no matter where they came from originally).

    It's very rare to find an original movie which hasn't been influenced by, or parts of it re-interpreted by directors as we all have our favourite movies.

    The Hound of the Baskerville's has had so many re-interpretations or remakes of the original source material (over 20 at least that I've counted, but not seen), it's hard to see the difference between them all.

    Eventually, everything gets recycled.

  • Comment number 85.

    Bad Lieutenant (Abel Ferrara) vs Bad Lieutenant port of call..
    Not a re-make for me as both fims fit and work fine. Herzogs is more of a black comedy to Ferraras very much biblical theme- redemption/rape of a nun etc)
    I Like how in Herzogs has lots of fun in this film and he uses his previous films as references on this eg Stroszek.."shoot him again as his soul is still dancing scene"
    Not a re-make but both films share a name and i still watch and ejoy both films..

  • Comment number 86.

    I think people get too caught up in the source material of the film when actually it's not that important. This recent influx of horror remakes are generally pretty bad, but that's not because they're remakes, it's because they're bad. A film like The Departed is clearly a remake of Infernal Affairs and it would be insane if anyone suggested otherwise, but it ends up being better, in my opinion, because Scorsese knows how to put an interesting crime film together.

    A good film is a good film and a bad film is a bad film, it doesn't matter what it was based on.

  • Comment number 87.

    Statham's The Mechanic is out soon. Anyone care to do a compare and contrast with the Bronson original? (Anyone remember that one?)

    As a starter, I hear that in the new version, Statham teams up with his 'agent's' son (he's an assassin) to wreck revenge when his 'agent' employer is killed by rivals.

    In the original Bronson was paid to kill his 'agent' - and friend (he did); it's not too major a part of the plot; just establishing his character.

    In the Statham version it sounds like The Mechanic and the son become unlikely allies and friends.

    In the original film the Mechanic and the son became mentor and protege; eventually the protege kills The Mechanic, to take his place (there was a sting in the tale).

    The original Mechanic film could be described as a cat and mouse game between two characters (as was Sleuth).
    The 2011 version just a routine 'stunts n explosions' Statham outing. An example of an gratuitous remake, and dumbing down.

    If you haven't seen the Bronson original, do watch it; the first 15 minutes was an exemplary movie 'hit'; almost completely wordless.
    A Michael Winner film too. On occasion (Mechanic, Scorpio, Chato's Land) Winner made some good films.

  • Comment number 88.

    The Italian Job(2003) was not a remake, however it did copy the 1969 Michael Caine original heavily. It was however not as good, despite its stellar cast(Edward Norton, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Mark Wahlberg and the great Donlad Sutherland). As I remember, the characters were all mixed in this vague remake, there was a treason subplot and there were 2 heists instead of one. And the 2003 film was not as funny, charming or smart as the original, and its Hollywood finale kind of let me down, while the Michael Caine film had a great cliffhanger(pun intended) ending, which complemented the rest of the film perfectly.

    @SheffTim: Chato's Land is in my opinion an overlooked masterpiece, which sports an incredibly surreal Charles Bronson performance, who acted rather as a vengeful spirit of the land than a mere human being.

  • Comment number 89.

    Just a suggestion...

    Perhaps a 'remake' is more a 'remake' when it is prominent mainly because of the fame or notoriety of an earlier film and, as well as following the generalised story or idea presented in the original, is promoted using the fame or notoriety of that original film. Like Tim Burton's 'Planet of the Apes' and the 'Psycho' remake - both of which were presented to the public and sold to them largely on the basis of the fame of the original films.

    I can immediately see a problem with my suggestion... what of 'The Omega Man' in relation to 'The Last Man on Earth'. I certainly see 'The Omega Man' as a remake, but it doesn't even share the title of the earlier film (or the novel upon which they were both based, for that matter). Then we have 'I am Legend' on top of that, and I don't remember that being marketted particularly in relation to 'The Omega Man' - though I might be forgetful of it.

    Presently I consider 'reinterpretation' to simply be an alternative word for 'remake'. I do not view the word 'remake' as shameful in any way, or a dirty word filmmakers should avoid. There have been some great remakes in film history. However, the English language is a living language and being so is in continual flux. At the moment, I don't think anybody knows the real dictionary difference between 'reinterpretation' and 'remake' because it probably doesn't exist yet. However that does not mean a definition will never exist.

    Perhaps this is a case of puppies chasing their own tails! Either never catching up, or the whole thing ending with a yelp.

  • Comment number 90.

    Personally I think it's a question of interpretation and from where the inspiration for the film (or TV series or book) was drawn.

    I haven't seen the new version of True Grit (so I admit I'm on shaky ground), but if the Coen brothers have 'ignored' the John Wayne film and drawn their inspiration direct from Portis' original novel, then it's a reinterpretation. Had their source material been Hathaway's screenplay then it could be considered a remake. However, there's also the degree to which the source material is amended (or compromised depending on your viewpoint).

    I give you some obvious examples:
    Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and it's reinterpretation as The Magnificent Seven. There is also Yojimbo {itself a reinterpretation of several Dashiel Hammett novels} through to A Fistfull of Dollars to Last Man Standing). I would comment that just moving the action from one setting to another doesn't necessarily count as reinterpretation, there's also artistic intent (or quest for more box-office receipts)...
    Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita which was remade, almost shot for shot, as John Badhams Point of No Return - though you can always argue that the latter is a dumbing-down of the source material, a trend which continues unabated. I personally like both films and when I revisit tend to watch whichever version my mood seems to favour - the Briget Fonda film is way easier on the brain.

    I have no problem with either reinterpretations or remakes, after all I can choose whether I watch a film or not. My only concern would be that such rapid remakes as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Let Me In may dissuade people from tracking down and enjoying the original versions (usually foreign with subtitles), which I think would be a pity, as non-mainstream films are sometimes more aesthetically interesting.

  • Comment number 91.

    Sorry to be off topic, but I can't resist...

    ... And the Kermode Award for Best Director goes to - say it with me now - Christopher Nolan!

  • Comment number 92.

    Perhaps we're quibbling too much about semantics here. Depending on the marketing strategy a film will be called a remake or a reinterpretation with the latter being deemed the more intellectually vacuous if the film is below par, but apt if it does manage to delve into the original piece of work and uncover new ways of telling the story. See Batman.

    A remake, in cinematic terms, would suggest - to my ears - a film whose shots are similar - where possible - to the original but with more modern equipment (it's new and therefore better). See The Thing, Psycho (?) and, alas, Nightmare on Elm Street.

    Then there are, what I would call, translations. A film is made in Foreign and is then scripted and produced in American. See Let Me In and The Departed. Arguably, there is a thin line between a film being merely derivative and a film being translated. There is always a value judgement to be made whether a translation - given the possibility of subtitles and the importance of place and setting in cinema - is actually necessary.

    Which raises the real question: why aren't people making more original films? I realise it is financially riskier to bet on something that hasn't been tried before, but unless a retelling of a story is done with verve (like in The Departed) watching it is a bit like chewing on gum that has been in someone else's mouth before.

  • Comment number 93.

    This is an interesting question without an easy answer though there have been some excellent attempts above. It begs an interesting question of unofficial ‘re-makes’ such as Sergio Leone's version of Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961) - A Fistful of Dollars (1964). This version of the story resulted in a lengthy battle (three years I believe) in the courts to sort it all out. Is A Fistful of Dollars a ‘re-telling’, a ‘re-contextualisation’ or a ‘remake’?

  • Comment number 94.

    You forgot to add "reboot" to the terminology.

  • Comment number 95.

    well dracula, is every dracula film a remake? but all have the same title. the film dawn of the dead 2004 is a remake in my view because it has the same conflict and the same story line, but with less character development and depth however i like both versions. i hear there remaking total recall. total recall is based on a book "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" but the original was an adaptation of this book the new total recall is also an adaptation of the book and from what i here will be closer to that book then to the arnold schwarzenegger film, that i love but will probably be nothing like it. however the new version will be more like the book then the original, but will have the name of Total Recall i believe this is done to sell films which may not be like there originals but create interest controversy, or am i stating the obvious. you could say every batman film is a remake are they?

  • Comment number 96.

    On the topic of remaking 90s action flicks I wish someone would remake Timecop. I thought it was quite a good concept for a film ruined by Jean-Claude's penchant for doing the splits and being on screen at the same time as himself.

  • Comment number 97.

    A remake is a copy, to all intent and purpose. An upgrading of an earlier work. If the original source is used, be it either book or film, and worked on in an original way, then it is a reinterpretation or adaptation.
    Gets a bit grey and slippery when you try and think about it, doesn't it? I can think of quite a few exceptions to what I've just said.

  • Comment number 98.

    There is no such thing as a reinterpretation. There are only remakes.

    My word processor’s ‘synonyms’ feature best describes what I mean. Remake is described as either “redesign, reform, rewrite, restructure, change the format, restyle or remodel”. Reinterpretation comes up with “no suggestions”.

    Reinterpretation is just another marketing device such as phrases like ‘3-D’ or ‘award winner’.

  • Comment number 99.

    Ps. I loved you remake of the ‘Bart doing lines’ scene.

    You’d have to have a cold heart not to accept that apology.

  • Comment number 100.

    To answer both the joke and the question - when it's ajar!

 

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