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21 NOVEMBER 2009

Remaking Film: Hollywood seeks to duplicate past successes and minimise risk by emphasising the familiar

"As in some approaches to film genre, remakes can be located in 'the material conditions of commercial film–making, where plots are copied and formulas forever reiterated'.(14) For film producers, remakes are consistently thought to provide suitable models, and something of a financial guarantee, for the development of studio based projects. In a commercial context, remakes are 'pre–sold' to their audience because viewers are assumed to have some prior experience, or at least possess a 'narrative image',(15) of the original story–an earlier film or literary property–before engaging in its particular re–telling.(16) In the case of cross–cultural remakings, such as The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002)/Ringu (Hideo Nakata, 1998) or Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe, 2001)/Abre Los Ojos (Alejandro Amenábar, 1997) foreign films are dispossessed of local detail to exploit new (English–language) markets. A number of commentators(17) have observed that the remake, along with the sequel and series, has become typical of the defensive production and marketing strategies of a 'post–Jaws'(18) Hollywood. For instance, Jim Hoberman says that 'the trickle of remakes that began . . . with Farewell, My Lovely in 1975 became a flood of recycled Jazz Singing Scarfaced King Kong 'landmarks,' Roman numeral'd replays of old and recent mega–hits, and retired mixed media figures [Flash Gordon, Popeye, Superman, and the like] pressed back into service '.(19)

This 'great downpour' of sequels and remakes, perhaps more perceived than real,(20) is often taken as a sign of Hollywood film having exhausted its creative potential, leading into 'conservative plot structures'(21) and 'automatic self–cannibalisation'.(22) Equally, film remaking is seen as a trend that is encouraged by the commercial orientation of the conglomerate ownership of Hollywood, one which seeks to duplicate past successes and minimise risk by emphasising the familiar–'recreating with slight changes films that have proved successful in the past'–even if this leads to 'aesthetically inferior films'.(23) As instantly recognisable properties, remakes (along with sequels and series) satisfy the requirement that Hollywood deliver reliability (repetition) and novelty (innovation) in the same production package.(24) Understood in this way, the remake becomes a particular instance not only of the 'repetition effects'(25) which characterise the narrative structure of Hollywood film but also of a more general repetition–of exclusive stars, proprietary characters, patented processes, narrative patterns, and generic elements–through which Hollywood develops its 'pre–sold' audience.(26)"

(Constantine Verevis, p.88)

[14] Altman, Film/Genre: 86.

[15] John Ellis, Visible Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video, rev. ed., Routledge, 1992: 30.

[16] Altman, Film/Genre:112.

[17] Tino Balio, 'Introduction to Part II', in Tino Balio, ed, Hollywood in the Age of Television, Unwin Hyman, 1990; J. Hoberman, 'Ten Years That Shook the World', American Film, June 1985: 34–59; Stephen M. Silverman, 'Hollywood Cloning: Sequels, Prequels, Remakes, and Spin–Offs', American Film, July–August, 1978: 24–30.

[18] Thomas Schatz, 'The New Hollywood', in Jim Collins, Hilary Radner and Ava Preacher Collins, eds., Film Theory Goes to the Movies, Routledge: 1993.

[19] J. Hoberman, 'Facing the Nineties', in Vulgar Modernism: Writing on Movies and Other Media, Temple, 1991: 1–2.

[20] Reviewing a sample of 3,490 films from between 1940 and 1979 Thomas Simonet argues that far more 'recycled script' films appeared before the conglomerate takeovers, and perceptions that remaking has increased in the 'new Hollywood' may be governed by comparisons with the previous decade only. See 'Conglomerates and Content: Remakes, Sequels, and Series in The New Hollywood', in Bruce A. Austin, ed, Current Research in Film: Audiences, Economics, and Law, Vol. 3, Ablex, 1987.

[21] Stephen Harvey, 'Can't Stop the Remakes', Film Comment, September–October 1980: 50–53.

[22] Mark Crispin Miller, 'Hollywood: The Ad', Atlantic Monthly, April 1990: 59–62.

[23] Simonet, 'Conglomerates and Content':154.

[24] Ibid., p. 155.

[25] Raymond Bellour, The Analysis of Film, ed. Constance Penley, Indiana University Press, 2000.

[26] See Robert P. Kolker, 'Algebraic Figures: Recalculating the Hitchcock Formula', in Horton and McDougal: 36; Steve Neale, 'Questions of Genre', Screen vol. 31, no. 1, 1990: 56; Altman, Film/Genre: 115.

Constantine Verevis, 2004. 'Remaking Film', Film Studies, Issue 4, Summer 2004

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TAGS

2004 • Abre Los Ojos • audiencecinema • Constantine Verevis • cross-cultural • downpour • familiar • Farewell • filmfilm genrefilm-making • Flash Gordon • Hollywoodinnovation • Jaws • Jazz Singer • King Kong • My Lovely • narrative image • noveltypatternplot structures • Popeye • pre-sold • re-telling • reliabilityremakeremakesremaking filmrepetition • Ringu • risk • Scarface • self-cannibalisation • sequel • sequels • supermantelevision series • The Ring • Vanilla Sky (2001)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
01 MARCH 2009

Animation Festival: Fantoche 09

"The seventh Fantoche will be held in the town of Baden from September 8–13, 2009. The international show of animation film has become one of the world's most prominent animation festivals and is the only cultural event in Switzerland that is devoted exclusively to the full array of animation techniques, content and media.
Since making its debut back in 1995, Fantoche has shown hundreds of short and long films from right around the world every two years. It offers the very best in entertainment for young and old alike, makes new discoveries for all animated film buffs and serves as a meeting place for animation specialists in Switzerland and abroad.
With a programme containing over 100 events, along with screenings of 300 short films and feature films from all over the world, the last edition of Fantoche in 2007 proved to be a great celebration of animated film–making, attracting 25,000 fans of the genre to Baden.
The seventh edition of Fantoche in September 2009 will build on this achievement: In light of the growing success of the festival and of the tremendous diversity and dynamism of animated film–making, Fantoche has decided to increase the tempo and let Baden and Switzerland immerse themselves in the flood of new animated pictures every year."
(Fantoche 09)

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TAGS

2009animationanimation festival • Baden • creative practice • Fantoche • Fantoche 09 • festivalfilm-makingnarrative • screenings • short filmSwitzerland

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 NOVEMBER 2008

Cultural uses of media technology by Inuit artists

"Isuma's films and videos are always based on oral history of the community elders. In the case of The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, the film's storyline is based on the events recounted in Rasmussen's writings, but as the film's co–director Norman Cohn asserts, 'Those events are interpreted through an Inuit point of view ... Like looking at your reflection in the window and seeing through to the other side of the window pane'(Norman Cohn, Secretary–Treasurer, Igloolik Isuma Productions, Montreal, personal communication, October 31, 2004).

Stephen Muecke, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Technology in Sydney, has written a great deal about how the form of discourse shapes our understanding of Aboriginal history: 'The main problem for Aboriginal History, as I see it, is to authenticate the appropriate discourse for its transmission. At the moment the 'authentic' accounts of Aboriginal history are firmly locked in academic standard English' (1983). Isuma's unique style of docu–drama counters this privileging of the written word penned by Europeans as the 'authentic,' 'true' historical record.

The films do this by appropriating communication tools to transmit an audiovisual form of Inuit oral history and storytelling to a hybrid audience: Isuma's primary goal is to delight other Inuit, and its secondary goal is to connect with a global media audience. Indeed, Cohn argues that '[Inuit] storytelling as an oral form is most compatible in contemporary form with film–making or theatre' (quoted in Wachowich, 1997a)."

(Katarina Soukup)

‘Travelling in Layers: Inuit Artists Appropriate New Technologies’ in the Canadian Journal of Communications, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2006). pp 239–246.)

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TAGS

Aboriginal • Aboriginal history • authenticitycultural codesdocu-dramadramafilmfilm-makinghistorical record • Igloolik Isuma Productions • Indigenous • Indigenous perspectives • Inuit • Inuit oral history • Katarina Soukup • mediaMontreal • Nancy Wachowich • narrative • Norman Cohn • oral historysocial constructionism • Stephen Muecke • storytelling • The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006) • theatretraditiontruth

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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