Friday, September 12, 2014

Comparing Two Classics with Their Remakes

Remakes were given a bad name when so many of them started coming out in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.  So the directors started giving new names, like reboot and reimagining.  But really, just the same thing was happening, just under a different name.  In any case, sometimes the new films can be as interesting and well acted/directed as the old films.  Let’s take a look at four examples:

In 1961, Walt Disney Pictures released “The Parent Trap,” which was about a Boston Girl (Sharon) and a California Girl (Susan) who meet at a summer camp and find out they’re identical twins (both played by Hayley Mills).  The girls come up with a clever scheme: Sharon will go to California to see her father for the first time, and Susan will go to Boston to see her mother for the first time, and once they find out they’ve been switch, the parents will have to switch them back, and then they’ll have to meet.   But in California, Sharon finds out that her dad is dating a new young woman… The movie is very funny and very clever, though somewhat repetitive (the same tricks the girls use on each other, they use on the woman the father is dating).  There was a short subplot during the camp sequence where the girls went to a dance with the boys from the camp across the lake, which while fun may have distracted from the main plot.  When the mother and the father see each other for the first time, they immediately start fighting, showing how easy it was for them to break up, but making it harder to believe that they could get back together. Then in 1998, Walt Disney Pictures remade The Parent Trap, this time starring a young Lindsay Lohan.  Instead of being in Boston, the production moved the other girl all the way to London.  The new film eliminated the dance element, allowing there to be more time for the girls’ rivalry.  The girls used new tricks against the young woman the father is dating to get her to leave.  Plus, you could feel the connection between the father and mother more strongly in this one; they didn’t start out fighting like in the original.  Overall, I would say that the new Parent Trap has a light lead over the original, though both are very clever and very fun to watch. 
 
In 1965, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous stage play was adapted into a movie, starring Julie Andrews.  In the movie, a young nun cannot keep her duties at the Abbey; she keeps escaping to wonder the woods and she can’t be silent and reverent.  The abbess decides to send her away to be governess of seven children for Captain Georg Von Trapp.   In 2013, the musical was remade as a live version for television.  The live version used the older stage script (or book).  Among the changes: some of the songs were not in the place they were in the movie: “My Favorite Things” was sung by the Abbess and Maria together before she left, and instead “The Lonely Goatherd” was sung during the thunderstorm.  In the movie, “The Lonely Goatherd” was presented as a puppet play that children presented to the Captain and the Baroness.  The biggest difference between the stage play and the movie is that the Captain, the Baroness and Max form a subplot within the play, as they deal with the imminent Nazi threat.  The Baroness is convinced that there is “No Way to Stop It” so why worry about joining the Nazi army, the Captain’s love for his country is too strong, and he refuses to join the army.  Elsa subsequently breaks off the engagement.  The updated live version of the stage play while different, was very good, but could not compare with the classic 1965 movie. 


The first two movies were definitely elements of their time: the first The Parent Trap of the 1960s and the second parent trap of the 1990s.  However, both versions of the Sound of Music are set in a specific time and place (Austria in the late 1930s), and there for have more specifics to be compared.  I still believe all four are worthy of seeking out, and I encourage you to watch each one.  

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