Remakes should add to the story, not repeat it

The live-action version of The Little Mermaid reimagines the original story in a new light.
The live-action version of “The Little Mermaid” reimagines the original story in a new light.
Chloe Choi

The idea of remaking old movies and TV shows is a controversial one. Those who oppose remakes believe that they are a waste of time and money, claiming that the originals are often classics that can be enjoyed by new generations. Others argue that remakes can be a way to breathe new life into old stories, making them more relevant to modern audiences. These differing opinions raise the question: are remakes a brilliant way to revitalize old ideas or a lazy way to divert from a lack of new ones? 

It is important to note that remakes can introduce classic stories to a new generation of viewers. For example, the 2019 live-action adaptation of “Little Women” was praised for its faithfulness to the original story, while also adding new elements that made it feel fresh and exciting. It was a critical and commercial success that introduced the story of the March sisters to a whole new audience. Students in favor of remakes claim they offer a fresh take on a familiar story.

 “It’s a staple of storytelling. We’re constantly making remakes, I mean, just look at twisted fairytales,” senior Katherine Stauderman said.

In some cases, a new director or writer can bring a new perspective to an old story, and create something that is both reminiscent and new. For example, the 2017 remake of “The Jungle Book” was a visually stunning film that took the classic story in a new direction, delving into the more complicated natures of humanity by reflecting them onto the relationships the characters have towards one another.

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Shows should be remade if they have technical problems, but should be left alone if they don’t.

— Nikhil Nare

Shere Khan is no longer a mindless villain, but a protector of his jungle against human harm. Mowgli is no longer a boy who has no memories of humankind; instead, he remembers his family and yearns to reunite with them. The entire story was elevated to create complex, relatable characters. 

Remakes can also be a way to update a story for the modern audience. For example, the 2023 live-action “One Piece,” a recreation of the popular anime series, is set in a modern world and features a diverse cast of characters.

Stauderman highlighted “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” as another successful modern remake of an older show. 

“It’s entirely different and marketed towards a whole new generation of teens. I don’t think it would appeal as much to the original enjoyers of the show, but it’s a really great piece of media in its own right,” she said. 

The old show’s fandom, almost forgotten, was revived by its new fans. This would not have been possible without the remake creating a story more relevant to our current-day life and diversity. Still, it could be argued that remakes are often unnecessary, especially if the original production was well done. 

“Shows should be remade if they have technical problems, but should be left alone if they don’t,” freshman Nikhil Nare said.  

After all, if a movie or TV show is already good, why make it again? This is especially true when the original is still widely available. For example, the 2016 remake of “Ghostbusters” was a box office bomb, and it was widely panned by critics. The film was accused of being a cynical cash grab that lacked the humor and heart of the original.

Remakes can be disrespectful to the original creators as well. When a remake changes the story or characters, it feels like the original is being erased. This can be especially upsetting to fans of the original, or classic, version. 

There is also the underlying message that remakes can send to audiences, a signal that Hollywood is lacking creativity within writing rooms. 

“I find remakes, at least in the corporate world, to be a poor excuse for ‘new content’,” Stauderman said. 

If studios are constantly remaking old movies, it suggests that they are not coming up with enough new ideas. Instead of exploring modern artistry, writers attempt to pacify viewers with rehashed stories masquerading as “more inclusive” simply for profit.  It would be better to represent different cultures using new stories, rather than take what is already mainstream and reuse it once again. One would likely argue that there are more “Cinderella” remakes than there need to be. 

There are valid arguments to be made on both sides. However, it is important to note that not all remakes are created equal. Some remakes are well-made and respectful of the original, while others are poorly made and exploitative. Remakes can be an extension of artistry and a way to deepen the story, as well as provide insight not seen in the original. However, when the remake is simply a shot-by-shot copy of the previous, it is only for capitalist gain and should be discredited.

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