Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So I was having a heated - ya I would say heated - discussion with a friend about originality and remakes via chatting about the legitimacy of Scorsese's The Departed this morning. I would say both this friend and I are fans of the original Infernal Affairs then The Departed. But I was trying to  argue that The Departed as a remake is good considering some of the crap that is being produced today. In addition we got into it about Scorsese's filmmaking in general as this friend considers his work to have "dwindled" since Raging Bull. Now I don't want to get into how we disagreed, however I would like to discuss a deeper issue that this conversation brought up.

The concerns deal with originality and with it, authenticity. Firstly this brought to mind a quote that Jim Jarmusch said about authenticity. He states:

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. if you do this, you work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity  is invaluable; originality if non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to."

How could anyone say it better then this?

I completely agree. I think that having the ability to honor and commemorate, in any which way you can, the things that inspire and fuel your imagination, and further more you soul, is a great thing. Sometimes I don't think it needs to be done by remaking a film, like let's not have someone remake Gone with the Wind, it just should not happen. Even though in the end source material should not matter,  it does. So to remake a contemporary film like Infernal Affairs (or Cache, which I wrote about yesterday) which went under the radar in America (like most great international films do these days) in order for people to discover the original isn't as much as a crime as some might think.

In my very first post on this blog I quoted one of my dear film professors saying: “More than simply a medium, film was one of the central social forces of the 20th century, and may be for this one as well. Film…gives us a rich language for discussing and describing the world.” If a remake, and I can't believe I am saying this, even a bad one(to some extent), outspokenly tells the world where its inspiration is based on and subsequently allows this to shed even a little light on its original source then I think this is good thing. This allows us to see how different parts of the world interpret the same story. Would we ever have the Kurosawa masterpiece Ran if it wasn't for Shakespeare's King Lear, and those two pieces are worlds apart. But nothing is really original these days is it? Everything either is adapted from a novel, short story, or other film, short film, anything. The point is to experience and discover new places and things, learn how others deal with and understand the world around them. I think this is something commendable.

Hope you agree even slightly.

Happy moviegoing!

1 comment:

Jenna said...

Posted on tumblr!