I’m sure that I’ve probably talked about this before (and tomorrow’s article will be a much more interesting interpretation of the topic of remakes), but since I was in a slight rush at the time, I thought that I’d go over some of the most basic reasons why remakes change things.
Although it won’t be posted here until August, the day before I wrote this article, I re-made one of my favourite paintings from last year called “La Chanteuse” because I was feeling too uninspired to come up with a totally new idea for a daily painting. Here’s the original painting from 2016:
And here’s a reduced-size preview of the new version:
As you can probably see, it looks fairly different to the original version. Personally, I’m not sure which version I prefer, but I thought that I’d talk about some of the reasons why remakes can end up being different from the things that they’re based on.
1) Skill changes: If someone returns to something they’ve made a long time ago, or if someone remakes something by someone else, then there’s a good chance that the person making the remake has at least slightly different skills to the one who made the original.
For example, between the time that I made the original version of “La Chanteuse” and the remake, my attitude towards using colours in art completely changed. I went from using strict limited palettes, to using a slightly wider palette in a particular way. Likewise, I’ve become more interested in (and/or very slightly more practiced at) painting realistic lighting. I’ve also learnt a few new digitial editing techniques for my art too.
So, when I made the remake – I ended up using all of this new knowledge. After all, what would be the point of remaking something if I wasn’t able to add everything I’ve learnt to it?
2) Inspiration changes: Likewise, the inspirations that someone brings to a remake will probably be different to the inspirations that were behind the original thing. This can either be because the remake is being made by someone else or because the person who made the original has found new influences.
A good example of this can be seen in the 1982 film “Blade Runner“, which is an adaptation of a novel from the 1960s called “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” by Phillip K. Dick. The setting of the original novel is closer to a semi-abandoned post-post-apocalyptic city than anything else. This was probably at least partially inspired by anxieties about nuclear war, pollution etc.. at the time.
But, when Ridley Scott directed the film adaptation, he was a lot more influenced by old film noir movies and contemporary cities in Japan, South Korea etc.. when shaping the ‘look’ of the film. So, far from being the decaying remnants of a civilisation, the city is a bustling futuristic metropolis that is lit with neon signs, filled with towering buildings and omnipresent rain.
The book and the film tell slightly similar stories, but their settings are very different because they were made by people who had different inspirations.
3) Times and trends: As I hinted at in the previous point on this list, the time that a remake is made can also cause changes too. Popular fashions can change, popular trends can change, technology can change, popular politcs can change etc… And this can often be reflected in remakes.
For example, things in the horror and dystopian sci-fi genres that tapped into contemporary anxieties when they were originally released will often be updated to reflect current anxieties when they are remade. Likewise, bringing a story “up to date” can sometimes involve transposing an old story to a modern setting – with mixed results.
This is especially noticeable when Shakespeare is performed live these days. Although a lot of people have tried to “update” these plays by setting them in the modern age, few directors would dare to change the original dialogue too much. So, you end up with this surreal situation where modern people are talking in 16th-17th century English. It’s hilariously bizarre.
So, yes, the time that a remake is made can also have a huge effect on it too.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂