Thursday, August 11, 2005

Extreme (Re)Make-Over

Sean Collins has mentioned a remake that he's dreading: the new Neil LaBute Wicker Man. I've known about this film for awhile and I share Sean's apprehension. I watched The Wicker Man about three months ago for the first time and it was pretty frellin' awesome. I'm coming from a slightly different point of view (being one of those horribly repressed Christians myself) than the one Sean mentions here, so I was always on the side of Sgt. Howie (even if he was a bit of a drip), but the film does an incredible job of not revealing "what's up" until the very end. Terrifying and brilliant.

The new Wicker Man, however, looks LAME in just about every single way. The name, in the context of the new film, makes no sense whatsoever. If you've read Caesar's Gallic Wars then you understand the significance of a wicker man; it makes absolutely no sense in an American context. I'm not even sure why they're using the name, because it's not like the original film was so widely known that they can bank on making money with name recognition (I only came in contact with the original movie because my Latin professor mentioned it while we were translating the relevant passage in Caesar).

I've been thinking about why this remake bothers me so much (besides the fact that I think it will be a terrible movie). Vince Vaughn Psycho was stupid, but it didn't really bother me besides in the normal, this-is-sacrilege-to-the-god-like-name-of-Hitchcock kinda way. I knew the film would flop, and that people would forget it, and that Hitch's film would endure. I think my disgust about this new Wicker Man stems from the fact that the original is a cult movie, not widely known, and therefore not protected from near-oblivion if this new movie is a success. Sure, sure -- the diehard horror people will always know and love the original. But average joe and jane will think Nic Cage and New England neo-paganism when they think "Wicker Man" and that bugs. I'm reminded of how William Wyler's Ben Hur is remembered and esteemed while Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ languishes in the silent-movies-are-weird-and-boring file. My only hope is that the original film gets recognized as the superior film that it is and more people hear about it. Somehow, I doubt this will happen.

And whether the new Wicker Man flops or breaks records, it's still going to end up in Blockbuster eventually. Meanwhile, I had to search ten rental stores and four libraries to find my dear old Edward Woodward.

Do I sound like a snooty film snob? Good.


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