Old versus remake: what is the problem with movie reconstruction?


Over the last decade, more and more recognizable movie remakes have started to appear in the modern media and movie industry. These films often have a few things in common, such as the live-action aspect or recreation of their animation: Beauty and the Beast (2017), Aladdin (2019), Mulan (2020), etc. 

Despite this, many would argue these new movies aren’t worth the money or time the public spends on buying or watching them. For example, the recreated The Lion King (2019) generated an initial worldwide gross of around $1.6 billion, far more than it’s to the original Lion King (1994) which only produced an average worldwide gross of $763 million.

However, besides the minor changes in musical numbers and slightly unique scenes, The Lion King (2019)’s only major change to the original movie was the change in animation style.

It was interesting to watch almost life-like lions and animals act in such a realistic way, far different from the original in its cartoon-way; however, that is as much credit as I’ll give the film in terms of individualism.

The story mainly followed the same plot—Simba gets chased away from the Pride Lands, meets Pumba and Timone, and returns to defeat Scar—with the same characters and the same viewpoints as the original.

As such it could largely be argued by critics that the main purpose of recreating the movie was just to change the animation, and was wholly unoriginal in its plot.

As such, it could largely be argued by critics that the main purpose of recreating the movie was just to change the animation and was wholly unoriginal in its plot.

Some people may argue that as the generation that grew up with the movies will already feel badly biased towards these newer movies, and judge them unfairly based on personal views or high, unrealistic expectations.

I’ll admit that I do have a bias for the older movies myself rather than their recreated counterparts, as I grew up watching them, unlike the new ones being produced today. I do have a sense of loyalty and nostalgia for the originals; however, I believe that does not detract from the point that the remakes are unoriginal.

Movies, tv-series, and even theatrical plays over the centuries have been recreated thousands of times—for example, Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet—and that’s not necessarily an awful thing as some of the most famous movies or plays are remakes: A Star is Born, The West Side Story, She’s the Man, etc.

But, the reason why those kinds of pieces not only exist but thrive is that—unlike reanimated films—these movies retell the original stories through new perspectives, or at least change the plot of the story to fit into different circumstances or characters.

I, for one, would love to see the modern Little Mermaid transformed into a movie about a young Ariel trying to survive her father or her wanting legs to go see the world out of pure curiosity rather than some boy.

With the reconstruction of older and more popular films in different media gaining popularity in these recent years—especially in Disney—I think the movie industry should look towards the theatre examples and focus on recreating better stories for future generations than animation quality.