An idea! An idea! My kingdom for an original idea! I realize I’m getting older, and the more I live the more I will experience. However, I don’t think I’m so old that I already have to live my life in reruns, at least in relation to when I want to be watch a movie.
News recently came out that there will be a Highlander remake. Really, Hollywood? So much for ‘there can be only one’. Have all the good plots and characters been used up and now you have to go through your archives and resurrect old ones?
I enjoy going to the movies. But it seems that everything is a remake or sequel. Total Recall, Carrie, Robocop, Gremlins, and rumor has it there will soon be a remake of Dirty Dancing, and even Porky’s. In fact, there are over fifty movie remakes in the works. Seriously?
How many times can Bruce Wayne develop his neurosis of bats? Did Two-Face end up like that when someone threw acid at him during a trial, or did it happen when he toppled a chair he was tied to in a warehouse doused in flammable liquid?
This is not to say no good has come from remakes. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker certainly holds its own to Jack Nicholson’s interpretation, which was great. And the X-Men movies offer a great showcase for the latest CGI and visual effects. And we can’t deny each time there’s another remake or sequel released the public flocks to it, pouring money into Hollywood’s coffers, so why go out and find an original idea? If something works, don’t try to fix it, right? Just dress it up with different actors and more modern effects.
But while everyone has a favorite meal or dessert, if you had it every day you’d eventually get tired of it. Even a kid doesn’t want to eat PB & J every day of the year. Now I do acknowledge there are original movies out there. I’m just basing this on what I see from billboards and commercials each day. Many of the plugs for the mainstream shows are remakes, adaptations, based on a book, or rehashing an already successful idea (aren’t we due for yet another zombie apocalypse movie about now?).
Maybe the Guf of original ideas is empty. Even as a writer when I start a new manuscript I can’t help thinking that what I’m writing has, in some form or another, been done already. My characters may be different, but the template is the same. Hero goes on an adventure and meets up with allies and goes out to save the day. That cookie cutter fits Star Wars, Indiana Jones, LoTR, every Marvel/DC Comics movie, Harry Potter, and countless others.
When you look closely, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker and Bilbo Baggins have a lot they can compare over a drink at the Cantina. Their journey began with them leading very mundane (dare I say perfectly normal, thank you very much, lives). They spent their days in their hovel (in the cupboard under the stairs, in a sand cave on Tattooine, or in a hobbit-hole), until they come across an old man with a white mustache and beard (length may vary from simple goatee to something that would put ZZ Top and Duck Dynasty folks to shame). The old man sends our simple hero on a grand adventure. Each armed with a special weapon (wand/lightsaber/magical blade) they strike out to fight the forces of evil. Along the way they make allies and friends to aid in their cause that will eventually end with them standing alone in the face of danger. And let’s face it, people – who doesn’t see similarities between Dobby, Yoda, and Golem? Just saying.
Individually, each of these is a creative, beautifully written, and unique story. Yet, the basic skeletal structure is the same. They are far from remakes of one another, but yet, it makes you wonder how original are original ideas nowadays? All three of these stories follow the Hero’s Journey monomyth outlined by Joseph Campbell’s as do many other stories and movies. It doesn’t mean they aren’t unique in their own right, but does it make them unique?
While there’s much to be said for coming up with a new and fresh idea, perhaps after a hundred plus years of movie making and thousands of years of storytelling, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.