September Shorts: 'Rewatching The Princess Bride With My Nine Year Old Daughter and Thinking About Culture, Ownership, Representation and Change' (or 'Seven Reasons to Remake The Princess Bride')
On exactly this day last year, I used a September Shorts to explore remakes. In the final line of the post I employ what my kid calls a "tutty-eyeroll"; that is, a sniffy, despairing and critical reference to something (as in 'Boris Johnson, eh?' tutty-eyeroll.) In the case of last year's post, my tutty-eyeroll was directed at a potential remake of The Princess Bride, which at the time was on the cards.
Yeah well more fool me because over the last couple of days I've rewatched the movie with my nine-year old and (*klaxon*) I've CHANGED MY MIND. That's right, I reckon TPB is ready for a remake.
Here's three broad reasons why, just to get us started:
1. By vocally opposing remakes we give the impression of being hopelessly devoted to the past, determined that culture should remain fixed. And we create canonical texts not based on their objective quality but on the fact they have a strong emotional resonance connected to our own childhoods. You can't touch that, we say. I loved it as a kid. Well your wasting you're time because...
2. Being a fan of a movie, book film or franchise does not give you a stake in it. You don't part-own TPB because you watched it incessantly in your early teens. Creators are free to do what they want with it. If you're a consumer and you don't like it - take your business elsewhere.
3. The remake doesn't erase the original. If you're so precious about the first version of the story, don't watch the second.
OK. Now four more reasons specific to The Princess Bride movie itself. My daughter really enjoyed the film, btw and I still love it dearly. But I have to admit, seeing it through her eyes, there are things that a remake could helpfully address.
4. "Buttercup doesn't do anything," my daughter observed, unprompted. "She just sits around." When the rodents attack in the fire swamp, she actually stood up and roared at the screen, "Do something! Help him!" as the princess cowered. Damn right, I thought. "Pass me that pitcher, farm boy" is about as assertive as she gets and that's in the opening five minutes, after which she's shuttled around, scooped onto horseback, ridden here and there and dragged running by the wrist. "But she's just one character," you might say. To which I say yeah but she's the title character.
5. TPB features an all-white cast in an all-white world. Not unusual for the eighties, but an opportunity waiting to be taken now.
6. The sets are as shonky as hell. The cliffs of insanity look like something out of Tom Baker-era Dr Who.
7. Mark Knopfler's soundtrack of parping synths and farting fanfares is rubbishy low-budget guff. And I'm speaking here as someone who had the OST on cassette tape and listened to it on his walkman while trying to sleep back in the day.
That's it - that's all I've got. So if you've perused the arguments above and find yourself simmering with barely contained contempt... well, fair enough each to their own and all that, I'm a big boy and I can take criticism.
Join and orderly queue and send me your tutty-eyerolls.