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  • Writer's pictureThe Screen Room

Is Nostalgia Killing Cinema?

Someone sent me this BBC article yesterday. It’s a really interesting read and the subject is something I’ve more than touched on a number of times since starting my Facebook page.

I’m all for nostalgia, I love it! I think we probably all do, but it’s how it’s being handled in movies these days that’s starting to bother me.

I’ve said time and time again that when it comes to remakes and sequels to popular films released years prior, the studios know right from the beginning that they’re going to make their money on the title alone.

From a business point of view it makes total sense. You’ve got the studios who are the businessmen (and women) who hold the purse strings, and you’ve got the filmmakers who, I imagine, care about their art.

The phrase “studio meddling” is something we’re all familiar with and it goes back as long as films have been being made.

It’s when the studio executives who know how to make money, think they know how to makes movies, and try to dictate to filmmakers how their films should be (or else they won’t get made at all).

Countless films have suffered from this. Fortunately though, the studios don’t always get their way, and when they stick to what they’re good at and leave the film making to the filmmakers we get some great movies!

For example, if the studios had got their way, Back to the Future would’ve been called Space Man from Pluto, Forrest Gump wouldn’t have had any of the cross-country running scenes, Gremlins wouldn’t have had as many Gremlins and Jeff Daniels wouldn’t have played Harry in Dumb and Dumber.

These are just a few examples of battles fought for some of our favourite films.

The article I linked at the beginning of this post talks a bit about the latest Ghostbusters movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. If you read my post about it recently you’ll know that I felt a little confused about my feelings coming out of the cinema. I liked the story and how it’s so closely tied to the original film, but I didn’t love it, and I felt like the tone and the humour (the things I loved about the first two movies) were too different for it to really feel like a 'Ghostbusters' film.

The article references a guy called Charles Bramesco who’s a writer for The Guardian, and when talking about the new film he basically says in one sentence what I’ve been struggling to express myself. He said that the movie is content to trade off the original, and assume "that the automatic delight of knowing what things are will supersede the need for the humour or smart-ass charm that initially made Ghostbusters worth watching".

You know I hate film critics but I think that’s spot on! It’s something that 99% of these remakes, reboots and belated sequels do all too often. They assume that getting the original cast back and playing heavily on our nostalgia of the originals is enough to please us, and it’s not!

We’re all guilty in our own way though. Despite our frequent objections to some of our favourite films getting remade and rebooted, most of us still go to see them and fuel the need for it to keep happening. If we all boycotted these movies I’m fairly sure the studios would have to start coming up with new ideas instead of recycling old, popular ones. Unfortunately I can’t see that happening any time soon.

When it comes to sequels, for me, I indulge them in the hope that they'll deliver on what the previous instalments set up - and that’s the promise of a film worth watching, coupled with a desire to see a continuation of the story. Unfortunately though, very few of these sequels made years after the originals are ever worth the wait. And that’s due to the fact that again, they think the nostalgia is enough to satisfy.

If like me you’re interested in stuff like this and are frustrated with the decline in quality of films today, I highly recommend you give the article a read.


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