12. Remakes/Revival

Most of the stories that resonate with us are not original. We enjoy the familiar in plot just as we do in music or language. The Hero’s Journey template, for instance runs through a vast majority of the stories that we continue to tell and thereby the films that we make and watch. This week we’ll be looking directly at this process of remaking and reviving stories. Show Boat (1936) was the first film adaptation of the musical adaptation (1927) of a novel by Edna Ferber (1926). The story saw two other adaptations, one in 1929 not based on the musical, and one in 1951 based on the musical. The Yearling (1946) is the first of two film adaptations of a book written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings about Florida cracker life just 15 miles from Oak Hall. Ip Man 葉問 (2008) was the first film of a four film series (to date) about the titular Ip Man 葉問, the Kung Fu master who famously taught Bruce Lee. Ip Man has been the subject of an astonishing eight feature films since 2008, with no signs of that momentum abating. The Red Shoes (1948) is a film based upon the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the same name which features a ballet of the same name within the film. Lastly, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 臥虎藏龍 is a fascinating Chinese diaspora film made as an homage to the Wuxia 武俠 (martial hero) genre of literature, television, and film dating back millennia throughout Chinese culture.

The notes have been sadly vacant of activity – endeavour to post your initial note response early and then check back to respond to everyone else for the “seminar” portion.

13 thoughts on “12. Remakes/Revival

  1. This week I watched the red shoes and crouching tiger hidden dragon. while watching crouching tiger I started to think about how both films portrayed the women characters. in crouching tiger they are portrayed as these powerful characters and are worriers while in the red shoes she really inst seen as much more than a dancer. the red shoes specifically in one of the last scenes when she is confused about which way to go it’s like she really has to say but the other men are deciding for her. you can kinda compare this with when Jen and li are fighting and he wants her to be taught by him but she refuses even with how much he pushes. if you look at how both women were treated it’s almost opposite and in the end it quite ironic that they both jump off of something but they both have different meanings like Jen wants seemingly find herself and its a good thing while in the red shoes it seems she is doing it to get away from something.


    1. Spoilers for The Red Shoes!!!!
      I agree that Vicky is treated as just a dancer. It is as if she is a valuable object for auction and both men are fighting over her. She finally decides to get control back by ending her life on her terms. 😦


  2. This week I took some time and watched Ip Man. To be honest it was my first real martial arts movie as I somehow haven’t watched Karate Kid (i dont even know if that counts). As somebody who enjoys action and fight scenes, this was quite the experience. I can see the appeal in it that led to so many remakes of this story. There are so many angles to base your story on. A man fighting against foreigners who take what is China’s, whether that be an out-of-towner or the Japanese Army. The struggle of a man balancing work and family time. The struggle of a wife trying to support her husband. The dark undertones of underground fighting arenas, executions, and beatings. The inhumanity of the Japanese’s treatment of the Chinese. Ip Man managed to include all of these in a very balanced way, and I can see the endless potential for remakes. This was easily one of my favorite foreign films. (probably because I enjoy watching and studying hand-to-hand combat despite never had training myself)


    1. That’s a very interesting look at the aspects of Ip Man. I hadn’t put that much thought into the elements of him helping his family or what his wife does or the darker elements and how those fit into the story.


    2. I think it’s interesting with what you say about the appeal of remakes because of how disappointing they sometimes are if you love the original


    3. Although I haven’t watched this film your analysis really makes me want to watch it! It very interesting how you can watch a movie and look at it from several different angles at change what the film is about.


    4. I’m glad you enjoyed Ip Man. You should definitely check out other martial arts films, I suggest Police Story and The Raid


  3. This week I watched Ip Man.

    (Spoilers for Ip Man)

    I think this movie left a different impression on me than on Caleb. The action and movie as a whole wasn’t all that appealing. It certainly fits the hero’s journey idea: from ordinary to challenge to change to victory (a condensed version of it, more or less). I don’t really know how to analyze this is the context of it being a remake/revival, but there were a few things I found interesting though. One was the major color shift about halfway into the movie when the Japanese invade. From regular colors it transitions to dulled grey and muted colors, as though the vitality of the color had disappeared alongside that of the Chinese people. It really helped create a tone difference between the first and second half, before any words were even spoken. The use of women (and lack thereof) was also interesting. Ip’s wife seems perfectly reasonable with wanting her husband to spend time with their son and to not break the house in duels, yet it’s her who has the big moment about her feeling she was wrong about telling Ip to spend at least some time with the family. The movie’s only real woman character isn’t treated all that well. The Bechdel test was not passed. There are also obvious themes of Chinese nationalism, between out of towners or the Japanese.


  4. I watched The Red Shoes and it was very interesting to watch since I am a dancer as well. The actress who played Vicky was a very talented actress and dancer which was refreshing to see. Often I cringe at dance-related movies as the actresses are generally no better than a beginner. I was fascinated by how the actual stage ballet was depicted in the film. Obviously, not everything shown in the film is possible to do on stage because they are special effects even though they are portrayed as being on stage in front of a live audience. The impossibly fast scene changes and mysterious appearing and disappearing of the dancers are not possible in real life yet they act as if it is. Generally, dancers have to leave the stage to change their shoes or are replaced but a different dancer until they have changed their shoes depending on how fast the change needs to be. Yet, Vicky magically changes her shoes (even though she already has some on) on stage just by jumping into them. This would make “The Red Shoes” impossible to perform in this form and would have to be altered for real life.


    It was interesting to see the parallels from the ballet to Vicky’s real life. Ironically the red shoes pull her out of her “retirement”, away from her husband, and back to dancing just like how the shoes force her to keep dancing in the ballet. In the ballet, she doesn’t stop dancing until she dies which is exactly what we see happen to her in the end when she ends her life.


    1. I agree with your take on the parallels to Vicky’s life. It’s one of the many things I enjoyed about that film. As far as dancing films go have you seen Black Swan? It is a very dark film but carries some of the same themes as this film


  5. This week, the films that I watched were Ip Man and The Red Shoes. I have heard a lot of great things about The Red Shoes and after watching it, I completely understand why. I see where the film is a source of inspiration for many modern day films such as Black Swan and others. The ballet seems to mirror the life of the real character, and is a symbol for the main characters obsession with her art. In Ip Man, the action sequences are well choreographed and the story is something that anyone could follow, thus making me understand why so many of these films were made. Another film I think should be on this list is A Star is Born. That film has been remade many different times throughout the years and seems to get praise every time it’s made. Another example of how an easily accessible film can be remade over and over again and still have a different effect on people.


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