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Remaking High Culture: Popularizing Art

From "Romeo Juliet" to "Oh Brother Where Art Though", reworking classic stories like Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet" to Homer’s "Iliad" and "Odyssey" with popular appeal is either a fun and creative on-taking or crass money grab, depending upon who you ask.

Examine similar instances in film where classic plays and literature have been given a new breath and identity through popular appeal, modernized sets, and creative directing. Are there instances where this process has succeeded in maintaining the artistic integrity of the original work while making something visionary? Are there instances where this process was a disaster? Does this act successfully cater to a new generation, or is it pandering/talking down to an audience that would prefer authenticity?

  • The plus sign was lost in publishing, and I'm embarrassed that I neglected to proofread the "Though" to a "Thou", but other than that, good luck to whoever might take this piece! – Piper CJ 4 years ago
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  • This is a great spin on a topic that has been broached but never approached in as "heads on " a manner as this. This is great. I look forward to seeing the examples used. There have been times when I've watched a television show of film and someone mentions it being based on a shakespearean play, and as a literature professor, I am embarrassed and then amused by the fact that I hadn't realized it. Now, my question is, how to handle when one sees a connection that hasn't been explicitly stated by the creators? Kurt Sutter, of Sons of Anarchy has mentioned the Hamlet theme numerous times, so that is easier, but as for Breaking Bad, what about Macbeth? Just throwing some ideas out there...Great topic, Piper CJ...might have to pick this one up myself!!! – danielle577 4 years ago
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  • Almost everything nowadays is reused. The trick is to reuse it in a new way – Riccio 4 years ago
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  • I think remakes are helpful because they keep classics relevant to a new audience in the next generation, especially if they are done well with contemporary actors who are skilled at their jobs. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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  • Clueless is far and away my favourite example of this topic. With every update given to these sort of classic stories, it's interesting to see how the general point of the story applies to different settings, and how the characters can still be recognizable in alternate times and places.Also, if whoever writes this mentions Carmen: A Hip Hopera, they will be my favourite person. – chrischan 4 years ago
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  • I think it depends on the approach of the remake. Some tongue and cheek adaptations can be really subversive and critical in their seemingly low-brow, kitsch or more pop-culture approach. Shakespeare is of course one of the most parodied authors, I'm thinking 'She's The Man'. – Treva 4 years ago
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