Friday, 6 February 2009


Remake, reinvent, re-create, re-imagine, replicate, imitate, copy. My heart is starting to sink every time I hear words like this. It seems that every few days another remake is announced. And sometimes, like in the case of The Fall and Rise (Rise and Fall) of Reginald Perrin, and The Edge of Darkness the originals are such perfectly realised things. It’s hard to see why anybody would attempt a remake. IMHO.

In this industry there is nothing new about the idea of remaking a film, play or TV series. And there is nothing wrong with that in itself. After all adaptation is one of the foundations on which the industry is built. If something has already been filmed/preformed it shouldn’t stop you from doing it, if you think you can do something new, different or truer to the original story. I don’t have anything against the idea of remaking things.

Reinvention can work very well, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica spring to mind. (I’ve never been able to get into Battlestar Galactica but I am reliably informed as to its quality. O.K. Rachael told me.) It can also fall flat on its face like the remake of Survivors. (I’m not going into why I believe Survivors was a failure here. That is a subject for another post.)

I believe the reason that some remakes do work is down to the attitude towards the original of the people who are remaking it. I think you need to start by finding all that was good in the original. All that stuck in your memory, all that you loved. All the things that made you want to remake it in the first place. Once you have that list of positives, you have something to build on which shows respect to what made the original great. Instead of trying to fix all that was wrong or all that you didn’t like. Which means you are looking at the original in a negative way and not with any kind of respect. Respect is the important word.

It is also important to be brave and imaginative about how you approach your rework. If you go about it in a half-hearted way, worrying about offending people, then you are not going to do it justice. If you show it too much reverence, then it is going to stifle your creativity and you’re not going to change it enough. In which case what is the point of the rework? Am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so. What I’m saying is if you decide that you can add something or tell a story differently then you need to have no fear and really go for it. If you don’t think you can do something at least as well as the original, then don’t touch it. Go and do something completely different.

I believe that the same rules apply whether you are re-adapting from the original source or from a previous adaptation. IE: remaking a film/TV series or adapting form the original book/play. I know that adaptation, reviving and remaking are all different things, but they are very closely related. So I’m not worried about talking about them all in the same breath.

I have a couple of videos to illustrate my point. The first is the brilliant Morcombe and Wise breakfast sketch. Enjoy.

The next is a dreadful, half-hearted, pale imitation.

But this is what happens when you really go for it.

I think this has been really well done. And it is obvious to me that the people who made it loved the original. Showing respect. Showing bravery about making changes. Being imaginative. And just having fun with it. Well done to whoever made it.

These last two clips were going to be in a post called “Stuff needn’t be boring”. But I thought that the title was quite boring so I didn’t bother.

The first one is a very simple and imaginative music video that was all over the internet a while back.

The last clip is a straight copy of the above video as performed by four lads in a high school talent show. However, they go for it so completely so whole-heartedly and with such honesty, that instead of being a simple copy, it is a delight. Well done to Matt Bersi, Hieu Tran, Ian Fisher, Stephen Behrens. Enjoy.

See you soon.


Piers said...

See also: for the Berocca version.

Fair warning: it's not very good.

Dave said...

I can’t help wondering how many people have been banned from their gym or ended up in casualty trying to re-enact this video.