Zemeckis's Wizard Of Oz - remake the movie or adapt the book?
|FEATURES - MOVIES|
If the original stories are too 'simple' for a modern audience, what's the hook for these remakes...?
There are certain classics one would think to be immune from remakes, but anything originally sourced from a book is inevitably in the firing line. Victor Fleming's adaptation of 1939's MGM spectacular The Wizard Of Oz was re-interpreted at the tail-end of the 1970s' blaxploitation trend in Sidney Lumet's The Wiz, featuring Diana Ross, Richard Pryor and Michael Jackson.
Now CGI-cartoon meister Robert Zemeckis (who I continue to lament as a sad loss to live-action film-making), is set to revisit the story. Thing is, the same controversy appears in this case as with the new version of Total Recall; is it a remake of an adaptation or a new adaptation of the source material?
End the dispute: Zemeckis is apparently to base his interpretation on the actual script employed in the Judy Garland version for his Warner Bros.-backed movie.
Since Tim Burton turned Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland into Lord Of The Rings earlier this year, the general feeling in Hollywood seems to be that the actual source material of these popular books is too simplistic for modern audiences. This is nothing new if one looks back on previous, often dark literary re-imaginings such as Hook (a Peter Pan sequel from 1991) and Return To Oz (1985).
But if that's the case, what then is the appeal of touching the material at all? Possible answers include that the film-makers themselves retain sentimentality for previous versions; that the rights to works that retain high-profile cultural branding have expired or become very affordable; or that the movie studios are really selling the remakes to the parents of their target audience, many of whom will have grown up with the more faithful versions of fairtytale classics as provided by Disney and other studios. So the parents get their sentimental hook and the kids get...inevitably, a bunch of wizards doing magick-ey stuff, which is what kids like at the moment.
And perhaps everybody's happy. At least no-one can argue that wizards are being shoe-horned into the new Zemeckis project. But it's a shame that we are increasingly seeing literary adaptations twice-removed: once imagined by a particular set of film-makers, whose output is now filtered through another.
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