Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Why it's wrong to ask: "Should I see the original first?"

Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Carrie, The Evil Dead. All amazing films, and all being remade. I’m looking forward to all of them, and I’m certain they will all be big box-office hits. But one thing that is troubling me about the remakes coming out this year is this; the amount of people who’ve asked me, or just asked in general, if they should see the original first.

Of course, a film can be enjoyed without knowing anything about it. But if you’re asking this question, you KNOW there is an original. You KNOW this film had a predecessor. And what you’re essentially asking is if it’s okay to skip a piece of work that was so good, memorable or otherwise genius that it spawned one or more remakes/sequels, because you can’t be bothered to watch something that’s more than a couple of years old. It’s the same as writing a book report but deciding to see the film instead. You get the general gist of what’s going on, but you won’t develop a love for the material, and you certainly won’t capture the feeling that was so lovingly crafted for the piece.

You might not HAVE to see the original Texas Chain Saw to understand what’s going on in the 2013 version. You don’t need to have watched with delight Ash’s 1980’s shenanigans to enjoy the remake. But to not do so is indicative of a lot of the problems facing the movie industry, particularly horror, today. It typifies the audiences who go crazy over Paranormal Activity 72 but ignore completely anything original or indie, until some ‘trendy’ blogger declares it ‘Must-See!’

You should always see the original first. Without the original, the new version would not exist. Without seeing the original, you can’t possibly get a sense of what the director was trying to achieve with the film, what it meant or the point it was trying to make.

I know some people will disagree with this article, and say that all movies can be enjoyed without context, and I guess at a base level that is true. But what we’re talking about here is laziness, dumbing down and a general disinterest in anything that isn’t ‘now’ or current. Newsflash - some pretty epic things happened before you were born! Just because a film is 30 years old, or it’s in black & white, or it’s foreign doesn’t mean it isn’t worth seeing! In a lot of cases, you will find a film that is so much better than 90% of the films that will be released this year.

Don’t just see things because everyone else is doing it, or they are the new ‘big thing’, forgotten by next year. See movies that are genuinely good, that will make you think, that will frighten you for real and not just give you a cheap jump thrill. Do me a favour and watch the original first. They are classics for a reason.

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