Remakes – Movies, Songs and Books?


I was thinking about something and would love your thoughts on the matter. How many of us have watched the remake of a movie and thought the original was better?  I’ve actually been sickened by some of the remakes of classic movies – don’t mess with perfection people. Like anything else, it’s pretty subjective. But the fact there is a “50 Worst Movie Remakes” list should tell us all something. They keep making them!

How about songs? I can think of a song or two that I like the remake of. One would be the Whitney Houston version of “I Will Always Love You.” Dolly Parton is a great artist, don’t get me wrong, but Whitney Houston sang that song into otherworldly dimensions.   I happen to love Metallica’s version of “Turn the Page” (see below). Please don’t crucify me if you’re a Bob Seger fan – I love to hear him sing the song, too!


How many of you have read a remake of a book? Can this even be discussed in the same vein as the remake of a movie or song? I can hear the gasps of people everywhere saying, “How dare you?” I even asked myself this question when thinking about it. It almost feels sacrilegious to think of someone taking classic works and re-writing them. They do it all the time for movies and plays, but book-to-book? Actually re-write a classic book and call it by the same name just because you can? Just to see if you can improve it? Just to see if anyone will buy it? Feels dirty to me…  Would it be simply considered an ‘adaptation’ of the original? I don’t know. I’m not even sure it can be done. You guys tell me.

These are the questions I have because obviously I’m procrastinating when I should be writing my own ORIGINAL works. Somebody give me a good swift kick.

18 responses »

  1. I haven’t really heard of any remakes of books, but I’ve experienced a number of song and movie remakes, as well as attempts to “reinvent” a franchise. I love the character of Conan the Barbarian, grew up reading the original stories, and was really hoping the recent movie was going to be good. Instead, it…harmed me. *points at the harm*

      • Well, the character was originally created by Robert E. Howard, who wrote a bunch of stories in the ’30s that were published in the pulp magazines of the time. Since then, a number of authors have written pastiches that just aren’t quite as good as the original stuff.

        There were a couple Arnold Schwarzenegger movies in the 80s, both of which I saw in theaters. The first one is a pretty good sword-and-sorcery movie, but it’s not all that faithful to the source material. The second movie is just bad.

        Last year they made a new Conan the Barbarian movie where they tried to reinvent the franchise, ala Batman Begins, and it pretends that the other movies were never made. The new one was painful for me to watch. Not only was it bad as a Conan movie, it was just a bad movie. It was bad 🙂

  2. Is that possible with a book? I’ve never considered it. I find it difficult enough when someone has to step into a deceased author’s shoes. I quite like most of the Ian Flemming, “James Bond” books. They are somewhat different to the films (even of the same name), but I’ve never been tempted to read one of the “new” ones by different authors. That seems dirty to me.

    • That’s my question – Is it possible and should it be? How come we accept remakes of movies and song remixes but the thought of doing something like this to a book is just WRONG 🙂 if it’s possible at all…

  3. A lot of old fairy tales and fables have been remade. Shakespeare too. Maybe it’s just that they aren’t recognizable as remakes? Or maybe it’s just that similar themes repeat in all stories so often that they SEEM like remakes.

    One of my favorite music covers is the entire soundtrack to Across the Universe. I have always adored the Beetles, but these renditions put their songs, the meaning in the lyrics, in a whole new light. I highly recommend it. But not if you’re a Beetles purist. Then you may hate it 🙂

    • I’ll have to think about the cover to the Beetles – I’m kind of a purist 🙂 I think fables have been re-written, like Cinderalla – so I suppose it can be done. Like anything that’s already so good, why mess with it?Just human nature I guess 🙂

  4. I’ve never thought about a remake of a book. I know some authors have continued on for others (e.g., “Gone With the Wind” sequel), but a remake of a book? That being said, I can think of some that deserve a remake 😉 (And my own upcoming novel will likely be included in that group. 🙂 )

  5. Well, in terms of films, the recent ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ remake was much better than the Frank Sinatra original, and I love the Pet Shop Boys’ version of ‘You Were Always On My Mind’, but I think to remake a book doesn’t really work because there isn’t really a re-imagining as there is with a film or a song. Books work because we each have a different vision of what we are reading. Thus, the version of, say, ‘The Godfather’ that I had in my head when I read the book is different to the version that someone else had whilst reading it; different even to Francis Ford Coppola!

    That said, some of the books written in a series after the original author has passed on have been pretty good. I’m thinking in particular of Eoin Colfer’s take on the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ sequel ‘And Another Thing…’, and the recent Bond books by Sebastian Faulks (which was very close in tone to the original Fleming novels) and Jeffery Deaver (which was more like a continuation of one of the recent films, but no less entertaining for it).

    Perhaps the secret is to have a character or universe that people want to know more about. Next step ‘House Of Silk’ and ‘Death Comes To Pemberley’…

    • I’ll give you Oceans 11 – it was better. And I’ll definitely be interested in taking a look at ‘ Death Comes to Pemberley’ because I’m such a fan of Pride and Prejudice but I’ll approach it with skepticism also because of that reason… Thanks for stopping in and sharing your thoughts 🙂

  6. Not so much of rewriting of stories has been noted; but plots, and characters, have been changed to protect the innocent. Spoofs and satire writers relish tackling things like the Lord of the Rings trilogy . . . Ever hear of Bored of the Rings?
    Biographers run into title trouble.
    Seems the classics generate genres as writers want to make themselves known for their creations not how well they write someone else’s.

      • I’m so glad you stopped in with your comments…satires and such was about the limit to what I came up with, and yes, it does seem Frankenstein has been interpreted in a hundred different ways!!

  7. A lot of novels have been “remade,” or adapted, into graphic novels. It’s a little different from what you mean, but books are books, with or without pictures. I also remember reading terribly dumbed down re-writes of classic literature for young readers when I was little (Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, etc.). As someone else mentioned, there have been plenty of retellings of classic stories, like Tanith Lee’s excellent horror take on Cinderella, “When the Clock Strikes.” And John Gardner’s Grendel is a remake of Beowulf through the eyes of the monster. The thing about literature remakes is, they’re usually a lot more clever than film remakes. Unless you consider Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which just adds a bunch of zombies to an existing novel. But I guess that falls under satire/pop culture parody. In the end, if someone seriously sat down and rewrote, say, Moby Dick with only a handful of minor changes, it would never see the light of day since it would be utterly pointless. But if they rewrote it in a completely different context (an existential modern drama called White Whale, or something), it might work in its own way. It depends on you if you want to call that a remake, a reimagining or a re-wasteoftime.

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