Nivair H. Gabriel of sci-fi blog io9.com argues brilliantly that there was no reason for The Day The Earth Stood Still to have been remade. As a commenter says, the only good thing about such an excellent movie being remade, is the number of us who will, in protest, spend our money on the original DVD.
Judging by the trailers I’ve seen, the restrained creepiness of the original movie has been turned into a thudding, bombastic thriller with ecological overtones. It is possible, but unlikely, that this source material has been refashioned with a new direction that couldn’t be used in 1951. But I find that unlikely — since the original is really about humanity’s inability to “get along”, something we’re still coping with half a century later.
Gabriel points out that there are lots of new ideas that are ignored, while Hollywood produces remakes. There’s room to tell stories that couldn’t be told in 1951; for example, AMC’s great series Mad Men, set in 1960 (and starring Jon Hamm, who appears in the Stood Still remake). Mad Men explores the flip side of success in the advertising business, as well as 1950s era mores. In 1960, the only advertising agency stories you were likely to see were frothy comedies with Doris Day and Rock Hudson, full of innuendo. I happen to enjoy those comedies, and they were “remade” brilliantly in the recent pastiche Down With Love, which was fun and subversive. Mad Men, though, is telling a completely different story with completely new characters – something audiences can never get enough of, as long as it’s well-made. Hancock is a great example of a new, fresh concept in telling the superhero story – no mutant DNA required.
The Women is also coming out as a remake, and at first glance it’s also a classic movie that doesn’t need redoing… right? Except, even if the remake focuses only on upper class ladies, as the original did, women’s role in society has changed – a lot. In the original, only one woman – an unmarried, middle aged writer – had a career outside the home. This isn’t the case in the remake, and it could change the dynamic of the narrative.
Since The Women is the story of a wronged wife, fidelity in marriage is one of its most important questions. Our understanding of infidelity has changed a bit, too. (Well, unless you were a politician or millionaire. The story of “Peaches” Browning and Daddy was daily fodder for the papers in the 1920s, and even before that, President Grover Cleveland had a love child issue.)
The gist is, there might be something intriguing to say by updating Claire Booth Luce’s bitchy play to the modern day.
Now, it would be interesting, if this new remake of Stood Still decided to return to the original source, Harry Bates’ “Farewell to the Master,” which has darker implications, or if it utilized Ray Bradbury’s sequel script.
But as far as Hollywood’s recent track record, it’s unlikely that the new The Day The Earth Stood Still offers anything really special and new, except more dramatic CGI effects. For those of us who loved the understated threat of the original, it’s reason alone to give this film a miss.
Beginning in 2009, Fantasy magazine is bringing audio drama on board via their podcasts. Apparently they will be producing them in-house, while using freelance, outside scripts.