Over last few years there has been a trend in Hollywood to remake great films of the past in order to contemporize them for today’s audiences. A few have been successful, but more often than not these movies prove to be a disappointing shadow of the original films upon which they’re based. What makes a movie good or even a classic can be a difficult thing to identify, and often it’s the combination of many unique elements working together that could never be duplicated.
Below are five groundbreaking movies from the 70’s and 80’s that found tremendous success, but no Hollywood studio should consider remaking – EVER.
The Godfather (1972)
Since its initial release Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece, The Godfather, has been hailed as one of the greatest motion pictures ever made. Fourty years after its release this drama about the machinations of the Corleone crime family is still studied by film students as an example of a near perfect movie. From its remarkable casting to its pitch perfect script The Godfather remains one of those rare examples in film history where all the pieces came together in a flawless combination to create what many people still consider almost three hours of perfect cinema. It would be ill advised for any studio to attempt to recreate the magic Coppola conjured with this stunning achievement.
This thrilling movie about three men hunting a great white Shark that is terrorising a small New England community was the first modern blockbuster and secured Steven Spielberg’s place as one of the greatest directors of all time. Many may see Jaws as the ideal candidate for a remake due to the primitive mechanical effects used to bring the shark to life, but they would be wrong. Part of the reason the film works so well is that Spielberg was forced to shoot around a shark that never worked. It made him shift his focus from the shark to the humans who populate the film. There is little doubt that a remake made in today’s CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) obsessed climate would abandon the fully realised human characters in favor of the virtual great white, and in the process losing the very thing that made the first film great.
Star Wars (1977)
When George Lucas unleashed his original vision of a galaxy far, far away on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 1977 Yoda himself could not have predicted the tremendous impact it would have on both audiences and the film industry at large. In the creation of his most successful franchise, Lucas tapped into myth and legend to generate a modern folktale that still stands as one of the greatest examples of the hero’s journey ever committed to film. In addition it inspired an entire generation of children who grew up with Lucas’s vision of space opera. However, much of Star War’s critical and commercial success came out of how it combined traditional storytelling with an original vision of a Universe that no one had ever seen before. The movies have a kind of imagination and originality that would be impossible for a remake to emulate.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
In 1981 two of Hollywood’s most successful young filmmakers, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, joined forces to resurrect the serials of the 1930’s with Indianan Jones’s first adventure, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film was the kind of fun adventure movie audiences had been craving for decades. While moviegoers are again in need of Indy’s patented blend of family friendly adventure and enjoyable action, much of the movie’s magic came from Harrison Ford’s performance as the swashbuckling archeologist. It’s difficult to imagine a remake of this seminal film without Spielberg and Lucas behind it, but it’s even more difficult to imagine that it would be successful with anyone other than a young Harrison Ford wearing Indy’s battered fedora.
Back to the Future (1985)
One of the most unusual things about this 80’s classic is the movie’s unique premise. Looking at the finished film it’s easy to forget that at its heart Back to the Future is a time travel comedy about a young man who has to get his parents together after his mother inadvertently falls in love with him. What could have been a disturbing plot of almost Greek tragedy proportions is avoided by Robert Zemeckis’s expert direction, charming performances and a light hearted, innocent script that manages to sidestep all the potential pitfalls while still hitting all the right notes. The movie is able to strike a delicate balance that was hard enough the first time and would be near impossible a second time.
Remakes Can Be a Good Thing
Remakes have always held an important place in Hollywood. They can be an invaluable tool to ensure that certain stories and characters will never die. However, it’s important for studios to be discerning when selecting films to remake. All too often filmmakers look to remake a movie because they love the original. This is the wrong reason to remake a film; after all if the filmmaker loves it, then it still works as a movie and still speaks to modern audiences. A movie should only be remade when the basic story is great, but the original film is limited by budget, filmmaking techniques of the time or an older sensibility that makes it difficult for modern audiences to connect with it. Remakes can be a good thing, but they should be used sparingly.