As of this weekend, “A Star is Born” has been created and released to theaters four times since 1937.
The story is always the same. An alcoholic musician meets a talented struggling artist whom he falls in love with, yadda yadda yadda. So, what’s the point of telling it again? Is this story a moneymaker? Is Hollywood just out of ideas?
I have a different theory.
Since the dawn of time, people have been reiterating stories passed down from generation to generation, and this is no different. Without this most recent version of “A Star is Born,” I never would have considered watching the 30’s adaptation, or the 50’s or even the 70’s.
There certainly are executives in Hollywood that probably only saw this as an opportunity for easy money, but there are others who see it as a way to pass on a story to the next generation. That’s what remakes are. They’re a more modern version of passing down stories at a campfire.
Sure, one could argue that Hollywood may have an obsession with remakes, and I do believe we should push for original stories, but I’m always curious to see a new filmmaker’s take on an old tale. Of course, it could lead to something of lesser quality than the original, like 2014’s “Robocop,” but it could also exceed its predecessor, like 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven.”
Remakes don’t always have to be a bad thing. While people tend to put a stigma on remakes, calling them lazy or a cash grab, I believe if your goal is to truly retell a story with your own spin, anything can be redone.
Now, that’s not to say I want everything remade. There are things I believe should be left as they are, like artifacts in a museum. You shouldn’t remake “Schindler’s List” or “Citizen Kane” because then the original loses some of its power, whether it’s five years from now or fifty.
I also don’t think everything needs to be remade because that takes away from creative and original storytelling. Films like 2018’s “Sorry to Bother You” or 2016’s “The Nice Guys” find their spot in theaters because of their originality. If we stop making those films, people will eventually get bored of listening to the same stories.
While remakes, like all films, have the potential for greatness, we seem to have a large number that are just ‘meh’. These, in part, are due to studio executives trying to recreate the original for easy monetary gain instead of taking the gamble on letting their creatives do their own work.
Both 2012’s “Total Recall” and 2014’s “Robocop” are perfect examples of this. These remakes of beloved action films from the late 80’s to early 90’s both received a PG-13 rating, instead of the R rating of their predecessors, in order to reach a broader audience. This limited the filmmakers in a way the originals were not, simply to sell more tickets.
In the end, whether it’s “A Star is Born” or “Robocop,” Hollywood will keep remaking movies, with the hopes that lightning will strike twice. And while remakes are not necessarily original, they are still stories worth revisiting when done right.