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Modernizing Old Stories

In the new Death on the Nile (adapted from Agatha Christie’s book), they made a number of changes to ensure the work was better appreciated by a modern audience. This included changing certain motives and secrets for characters (having a former kleptomaniac instead have a secret lover, for example) and adding a romantic subplot for the main character.
Regardless of whether one thinks these changes work or not, I wanted to open up a discussion on why we feel the need to modernize old stories (even bringing some into the modern day rather than keeping them set in the past), and if these efforts help our understanding of these stories.
After all, movies tend to be made for a wide audience. There is a risk that many viewers won’t understand what certain decisions or plot elements imply, because they don’t have a knowledge of the time period it was originally created in. Changes are made to ‘translate’ the work for modern audiences. But on the other hand, it can easily go too far and attempts to modernize can remove beloved parts of the original work.

  • This could be an interesting larger discussion, for instance the modernisation of Shakespeare's works. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 6 days ago
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  • I think that one reason why certain stories lend themselves to modernization is that at the time they were written they would have seemed "modern" to begin with. A lot of the technologies and cultural references used by Agatha Christie would have been considered modern, even cutting-edge, at the time her books were written, and it's only nowadays that they seem old-fashioned or "period." This was also the reason why the BBC decided to set its "Sherlock" series in modern times. Sherlock Holmes would have been considered a "modern" detective at the time the novels were originally written, and so, paradoxically, the best way to honor its original vision is to tell a version of the story set in modern times. – Debs 6 days ago
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  • Updating language is always a good reason to 'modernize' a story. Without the ability to actually understand Shakespeare, for example, people might be mislead into thinking it's high-brow classical storytelling instead of a collection of dick jokes stuffed into a thriller jacket. – kgy121 5 days ago
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