In an era dominated by prequels, sequels, and remakes, it seems that the film industry has lost interest in creative and original work. The same formulas are applied over and over, with studios profiting from well-known stories being adapted to modern times. However, sometimes remakes do get it right, not only by efficiently capturing the essence of the original film but also by adding new elements to their worlds.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some classic movie remakes that out-performed the originals.
Wizard of Oz (1939)
Wizard of Oz is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated films in the history of cinema. However, the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz is a remake of a 1925 film.
The original picture was a silent film based on L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. However, it features some significant changes. For instance, as a result of the absence of sound, all the musical numbers for which the 1939 remake is known are missing. The cast is also a lot less memorable, with the only true star being a young Oliver Hardy (from the Laurel & Hardy comic duo) as Tin Man.
On the other hand, the 1939 remake features a sublime cast, namely Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, and Bert Lahr. While, upon its release, the film enjoyed moderate success, in the years to come, the film would consistently feature in greatest-films-ever lists, while its memorable musical numbers became part of pop culture. Wizard of Oz would even go on to inspire a 2013 prequel, theme park attractions, and even themed video slots, such as Book of Oz, which is featured in Genesis Casino Online and allows gamblers to place their bets while getting a sense of the atmosphere of this iconic film.
War of the Worlds (2005)
It all started with H.G. Wells’ 1897 book, The War of the Worlds, which details how an alien invasion from Mars would play out on Earth. Before the book’s first adaptation to the big screen, the story first attracted attention in 1938 due to the now-infamous radio broadcast, in which Orson Welles reported the arrival of Martians on our planet in such an accurate way it reportedly left listeners panicking. Years later, in 1953, Paramount would release their super-production based on the same book, which was met with critical acclaim.
Forty years later, the director of sci-fi classics such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind or ET the Extra-terrestrial Steven Spielberg would release his version of this story. Spielberg managed to deliver a solid film by focusing on a more intimate side of the invasion. In his film, we follow the struggle of a family fighting for survival during the invasion, with Tom Cruise bringing charisma and emotion to its leading man.
Often considered an original, Brian De Palma’s unforgettable classic Scarface stunned audiences with Al Pacino’s striking performance. Nonetheless, this is a remake of the 1932 film of the same name, which is widely regarded as responsible for cementing mafia cinema in mainstream cinema.
Fifty-one years after, De Palma reimagined this classic with the help of Oliver Stone. Stone’s script moved the story from Chicago to Miami, where an illegal immigrant who has escaped from Cuba tries to climb the ladder of success. Tony, played by Pacino, finds his way to all sorts of misdemeanors, making money and enemies alike. Even though critics considered the film a bit over the top, Scarface’s remake is one of the genre’s most beloved films, featuring high-profile actors such as Michelle Pfeiffer and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
If there is something we can take away from the films above is that, when done right, remakes can really expand and even improve original stories, bettering flawed movies and giving scripts a second chance.