Friday, July 12, 2013

Re-inventing the Wheel - or Ourselves?

The friends that have it I do wrong
When ever I remake a song,
Should know what issue is at stake:
It is myself that I remake.

( William Butler Yeats)

So....Walt Disney Studios have dredged up and dusted down the Lone Ranger and Tonto ? They have, quite rightly, faced some criticism for casting Johnny Depp as Tonto . If they'd wanted a big name star to "put bums on seats", why didn't they cast Depp as the Lone Ranger, for goodness sake, and choose from hundreds of available bona fide Native American actors to play Tonto?

I recall reading in a local newspaper, some time before the movie was released, that Johnny Depp had visited a town here in Oklahoma, about a half hour drive from us, and had met with some Comanche tribe leaders. They gave him, his makeup and costumes their approval, I understand. Whether they were being polite and kind as most Okies naturally are - and didn't want to upset their visitor isn't clear.

I wonder whether kids of today will enjoy the film as much as kids of yesteryear enjoyed the tales of Lone Ranger and Tonto? I somehow doubt it, but suspect many cinema seats will be filled by parents and grandparents enjoying a spot of nostalgia.

Remakes: love 'em or hate 'em, they're with us always. There's another on the horizon now : John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

Stephen Spielberg is attempting to secure the rights to produce a remake of the 1940 movie, though he has said he would not be directing a remake. I'm not sure what to think about this. Part of me wants the old classic left alone, but part of me realises that younger generations, used to top class cinematography, CGI etc. may not wish to watch a creaky old film from 1940. It's a story which deserves - demands - telling and re-telling long as it's done properly, with the right actors. Unknown or little-known actors would be best, I think - big starry names could kill it, or worse, draw ridicule towards it.

No movie, however well-made could ever equal the pull of emotion found on the page in the words of John Steinbeck:

The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlarge of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate--"We lost our land." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first "we" there grows a still more dangerous thing: "I have a little food" plus "I have none." If from this problem the sum is "We have a little food," the thing is on its way, the movement has direction.

Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my mother's blanket - take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb.This is the beginning--from "I" to "we."

If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive.But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezesyou forever into "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we."


“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath


mike said...

Well, the reviews and revenues for "The Lone Ranger" aren't pleasant...many people are not forsaking the original ke mo sah bee. Maybe when it's out on DVD!

I don't know what Spielberg has in mind with the remake of "The Grapes of Wrath", so I'll withhold comment. It could be stunning...or not. He rarely disappoints.

I agree that many and most things were the best in their original wrappers. It can be hard to improve on the magnificent without appearing ersatz.

"Gone with the Wind" is another movie too good to remake. I'd find it very difficult to view a modernized Rhett and Scarlett. Margaret Mitchell was said to have a tremendous input to the movie's adaptation from the book, much like J.K.Rowling and the "Harry Potter" series. I always appreciate a writer's efforts to convey their written interpretation to the visual big screen, when allowed.

I read Philip Pullman's, "The Golden Compass" and the other two books of the "His Dark Materials" series. The film version of "The Golden Compass" straying too far from the book. Too many authors have encountered this fate.

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

yuck.. Johnny Depp should have stopped making movies long ago, imho..
he's definately too short to play The Lone Ranger.. they'd have had to get a "small" american indian person to play Tonto then.
the only redeeming feature of the Golden Compass was being able to hear Sam Elliots voice:) be still my heart..
I'll withhold comment as to SS remaking Grapes of Wrath.. I'll just keep hoping he doesnt make a mess of it.

Twilight said...

mike ~~ It seems Despicable Me
has beaten Lone Ranger at the box-office. One sequel, one re-make.
It's past time for for some creativity and new stories!

Spielberg says he won't direct Grapes of Wrath - but surely he'll keep an eye on what they're doing with it. I'm not optimistic - this'll sound snobby and anti-American I know, though not meant to be - but I believe the right British company would do a better job of re-making it. They're masters at period pieces.

Re golden compass - I think I might have passed on the link to my earlier (2007) post on the movie before - if not:

It seems I was anticipating a sequel at that time. :-)

Twilight said...

Sonny ~~ I'm not a Depp fan either, in spite of his pretty face. I find him painfully pretentious and self-absorbed.

Yes, waiting and seeing is the best plan for Grapes of W.

I lurve Sam Eliott - he was the only reason I went to see Golden Compass.
I'll even listen to TV commercials for RAM trucks, just because it's his voice!
Wade Garret in Road House - YAY!!! :-D