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Cinema Sequels And Remakes

5036 words (20 pages) Essay in Film Studies

24/04/17 Film Studies Reference this

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Preamble: The remake is both an industrial and a critical genre. Defined primarily in relation to a body of copyright law, the acknowledged or credited remake develops from being an “ethical solution” to the early practice of duping to become an economically driven staple of the Hollywood industrial mode of representation. Following the Hollywood “recession of 1969” and the “small-and-weird-can-be-beautiful-revolution” of the early seventies, the remake (along with the sequel) becomes typical of the defensive production and marketing strategies of a “post Jaws” Hollywood. In the case of the unacknowledged remake, the absence of a production credit shifts attention from a legal-industrial definition to a critical-interpretive one, in which the remake is determined in relation to a “general discursive field [that] is mediated by the structure of the [filmic] system and by the authority of the [film and] literary canon” (Frow, “Intertextuality and Ontology” 46). In either instance, “the intertextual referentiality between a remake and its `original’ is largely extratextual” (Friedberg 175), located in historically specific technologies and institutional practices such as copyright law and authorship, canon formation and film literacy.

In their almost one thousand page long Cinema Sequels and Remakes, 1903-1987, Roben Nowlan and Gwendoline Wright Nowlan devote not quite two full pages to explaining the selection criteria for one thousand and twenty five alphabetically listed “primary films” and the many more associated remakes and sequels that make up their reference volume. The brevity of Nowlan and Nowlan’s introduction is attributable to the fact that they make little attempt to define either remake or sequel, but rather take these as received categories, i.e., their principal criterion for selection is that a film has been previously designated as a remake or sequel in any two or more of a number of unidentified but “reliable source[s],” which list remakes and sequels of certain genres of films (xi-xii). While this type of lax definition makes for a wide selection of material and does not preclude the inferential reconstruction of at least some of the unspecified principles of selection (through an examination of those films that have been included), Nowlan and Nowlan’s intuitive approach underscores the extent to which the remake is conceived more through actual usage and common understanding than through rigorous definition.(1)

While Nowlan and Nowlan put aside problems of categorization to list thousands of films, Michael B. Druxman’s more modest (in scope) Make It Again, Sam, which sets out “to provide a comprehensive dissertation on the remake practice” by “detailing the film life of [thirty-three] literary properties” (9), attempts to ground its selection in some preliminary definitions. Druxman begins by electing to limit the category of remake “to those theatrical films that were based on a common literary source (i.e., story, novel, play, poem, screenplay), but were not a sequel to that material” (9). This “seemingly infallible signpost” is however complicated by those films that are “obviously remakes [but] do not credit their origins” (9). In such cases Druxman adopts a heuristic device–a rule of thumb–which requires that a new film “borrow more than just an element or two from its predecessor to qualify” (9). This in turn allows Druxman to distinguish between “nonfiction films” of a single historical incident or biography of a historical figure (e.g., the mutiny on the Bounty or the life of Jesse James) which differ because they are based around competing versions of the same incident, and those “nonfiction films” of a like historical incident which are similar even though they are based upon diverse literary sources (9). As might be expected from an approximate rule which arbitrates according to whether a film’s borrowings are “significant” or only amount to “an element or two,” Druxman ultimately admits that “there were many marginal situations … [in which he] simply used [his] own discretion in deciding whether or not to embrace [a film as a remake]” (9).

Although Druxman’s recognition of “unacknowledged” remakes introduces a number of methodological difficulties, he funkier grounds his discussion by viewing Hollywood remaking practice as a function of industry pragmatism, driven by three major factors. Firstly, Druxman argues that the decision to remake an existing film is primarily a “voluntary one” based on the perceived continuing viability of an original story. However, industry demand for additional material during the studio-dominated era of the thirties and forties and attempts to rationalize the often high costs of source acquisition prompted studios to consider previously filmed stories as sources for B pictures, and even for top of the bill productions (13). As Tino Balio points out, the Hollywood majors “had story departments with large offices in New York, Hollywood, and Europe that systematically searched the literary marketplace and stage for suitable novels, plays, short stories, and original ideas” (99). Taking as an example story acquisitions at Warner Brothers between 1930 and 1949, Balio notes that “‘the pattern of source acquisition demonstrates two often contradictory goals: (1) the desire to base films on pretested material, that is, low-risk material that was already well known and well received by the public and (2) the desire to acquire properties as inexpensively as possible, especially during declining or uncertain economic circumstances”‘ (Robert Gustafson qtd. in Balio 99). In practice this meant that while Warners often invested in expensive pre-sold properties, such as best-selling novels and Hollywood hit plays, “it offset the high costs of pretested properties by using original screenplays written in its screenwriting department and by relying heavily on `the cheapest pretested material of all’–earlier Warner pictures” (99).

Druxman’s second, related point is that the customary studio practice at the time of purchasing the rights to novels, plays, and stories in perpetuity meant that a company was able to produce multiple versions of a particular property without making additional payments to the copyright holder (15). Canonized classics of literature, such as Treasure Island and The Three Musketeers, not only had pre-sold titles, but because they were in the public domain, had the added advantage of requiring no initial payment for their dramatic rights (18-20). While the majority of recycled, previously purchased source material (particularly from those films that had done fair to poorly at the box office) made its way into B-unit production (Balio 100), high profile titles were sometimes remade to take advantage of new technologies and practices. Accordingly, Druxman’s third and final point relates to the profit potential of redoing established films in order to exploit new stars or screen techniques, e.g., Michael Curtiz’s 1938 version of The Adventures of Robin Hood as both a vehicle for Errol Flynn and a sound and Technicolor update of the Douglas Fairbanks silent epic, Robin Hood (Allen Dwan, 1922) (15).

Druxman’s initial definition and the above factors of industry pragmatism allow him to posit three general categories of Hollywood remake: (i) the disguised remake: a literary property is either updated with minimal change or retitled and then disguised by new settings and original characters, but in either case the new film does not seek to draw attention to its earlier version(s), e.g., Colorado Territory (Raoul Walsh, 1949) as a disguised remake of High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941); (ii) the direct remake: a property may undergo some alterations or even adopt a new title, but the new film and its narrative image do not hide the fact that it is based upon an earlier production, e.g., John Guillermin’s 1976 remake of King Kong (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933); and (iii) the non-remake: a new film goes under the same title as a familiar property but there is an entirely new plot, e.g., Michael Curtiz’s 1940 version of The Sea Hawk is said to bear little relation to First National’s 1924 adaptation of the Rafael Sabatini novel (13-15).(2)

While Druxman’s account of the remake raises a number of salient points, among them the role that credits and promotions play in the identification of remakes, the publication of Make It Again, Sam prior to the post-Jaws renovation of Hollywood and the transformation of film viewing through videotape and other recent technologies of storage and reproduction make the book somewhat backward-looking. In order to consider some aspects of the remake as a media-intertext, particularly in relation to new Hollywood remakes, it is helpful to turn to a more recent typology of the remake, Thomas M. Leitch’s “Twice-Told Tales.”(3) Leitch begins his account by making a number of points about the singularity of the remake both among Hollywood films and even among other types of narratives: “[t]he uniqueness of the film remake, a movie based on another movie, or competing with another movie based on the same property’ is indicated by the word property. Every film adaptation is defined by its legally sanctioned use of material from an earlier model, whose adaptation rights the producers have customarily purchased” (138). Putting aside for the moment the fact that this description immediately excludes those “obvious remakes” which do not acknowledge their previous source, the point Leitch wishes to make is that although adaptation rights (e.g., film adaptation rights of a novel) are something producers of the original work have a right to sell, it is only remakes that “compete directly and without legal or economic compensation with other versions of the same property” (138):

[R]emakes differ from … adaptations to a new medium because of the triangular relationship they establish among themselves, the original film they remake, and

the property on which both films are based. The nature of this triangle is most clearly indicated by the fact that the producers of a remake typically pay no adaptation fees to the makers of the original film, but rather purchase adaptation rights from the authors of the property on which that film was based, even though the remake is competing much more directly with the original film–especially in these days of video, when the original film and the remake are often found side by side on the shelves of rental outlets—than with the story or play or novel on which it is based.

(139)

Taking as an initial proposition the triangular relationship among a remake, its original film, and the source for both films, Leitch suggests that any “given remake can seek to define itself either with primary reference to the film it remakes or to the material on which both films are based; and whether it poses as a new version of an older film or of a story predating either film, it can take as its goal fidelity to the conception of the original story or a revisionary attitude toward that story” (142). Accordingly, Leitch outlines the following quadripartite typology of the remake: (i) readaptation: the remake ignores or treats as inconsequential earlier cinematic adaptations in order to readapt as faithfully as possible (or at least more faithfully than earlier film versions) an original literary property, e.g., the film versions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Laurence Olivier, 1948; Tony Richardson, 1969; and Franco Zeffirelli, 1990) and Macbeth (Orson Welles, 1948; Roman Polanski, 1971); (ii) update: unlike the readaptation that seeks to subordinate itself to the “essence” of a literary classic, the update “competes directly” with its literary source by adopting an overtly revisionary and transformational attitude toward it, e.g., West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961) and China Gil (Abel Ferrara, 1987) as transformed remakes of filmed versions of Romeo and Juliet (George Cukor, 1936; Franco Zeffirelli, 1968); (iii) homage: like the readaptation, which seeks to direct the audience’s attention to its literary source, the homage situates itself as a secondary text in order to pay tribute to a previous film version, e.g., Brian de Palma’s Obsession (1975) and Body Double (1986) as homages to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul (1973) as a tribute to the Douglas Sirk version of Magnificent Obsession (1954); (iv) true remake: while the homage renounces any claim to be better than its original, the true remake “deal[s] with the contradictory claims of all remakes–that they are just like their originals only better–by . . . combin[ing] a focus on a cinematic original with an accommodating stance which seeks to make the original relevant by updating it,” e.g., Bob Rafelson’s 1981 remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice (Tay Garnett, 1946), and Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat (1981) as a remake of Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) (142-45). Leitch concludes that, unlike readaptations, updates, and homages, which only acknowledge one earlier text (literary in the first two cases and cinematic in the third), “true remakes [emphasize] a triangular notion of intertextuality, since their rhetorical strategy depends on ascribing their value to a classic earlier text [i.e., an original property such as James M. Cain’s novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice], and protecting that value by invoking a second earlier [film] text as betraying it [Garnett’s version as a watered-down film noir, probably due to limitations imposed by the MGM studio and the Production Code of the forties]” (147).

While Leitch’s recognition of the significance of a literary property, and in particular the relationship of a film adaptation and its remake to that property, leads to what at first appears to be a more nuanced typology than that outlined by Druxman, further consideration reveals a number of difficulties, not only among Leitch’s four categories but in relation to his preliminary suppositions. Firstly, while the ubiquity of the Hollywood remake might understandably lead Leitch to conclude that the remake is a particularly cinematic form,(4) we might question to what extent it differs from the remaking of songs in the popular music industry. That is, how does the triadic relationship between (i) the Pet Shop Boys’ long remake (of their earlier, shorter remake) of “Always on My Mind,” (ii) the 1972 version of the same song by Elvis Presley, and (iii) the original property (music and lyrics written by Thompson James Christopher, and published by Screen Gems/EMI), differ appreciably from the triangular relationship for the film remake as described by Leitch? Or, to take as another example a case that underscores Leitch’s overestimation of the economic competition a remake creates for a former adaptation, the Sid Vicious remake of “My Way” (and even Gary Oldman’s remake of the same performance for Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy [1986]) competes culturally, but not economically, with Frank Sinatra’s earlier adaptation of a property written by Reveaux, Francois, and Anka. These examples, and others from the popular music industry, adequately conform to, and so problematize, Leitch’s initial claim that the film remake is unique because of the fact that its producers “typically pay no adaptation fees to the makers of the original [version], but rather purchase adaptation rights from the authors [publishers] of the property on which that [version] was based” (139).

A second limitation is that while Druxman at least acknowledges the difficulty of identifying and categorizing those films “that are obviously remakes [but] do not credit their origins” (9), Leitch remains curiously silent in this respect. For instance, Leitch considers Body Heat a “true remake” of Double Indemnity, but he does not comment upon the fact that the film’s credits do not acknowledge the James M. Cain novel as a source; similarly, Leitch takes Obsession and Body Double to be “homages” to Vertigo, but he fails to note that neither of the films credit either the Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor screenplay or the Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narceiac novel, D’entre les morts, upon which the Hitchcock film is based. While I will return to the question of identifying unacknowledged remakes, Leitch’s insistence upon the connection between three elements–a remake, an earlier version, and a literary property–presents a further difficulty in that it marginalizes those instances in which a dyadic relationship exists between a remake and a previous film that is itself the original property. Although it might be objected that a published original screenplay constitutes a discrete property, the point to be made here is that the remake of an “original film property,” such as John Badham’s The Assassin [Point of No Return] (1994), does not “compete directly and without legal or economic compensation” with its earlier version, but (generally) pays adaptation fees to the copyright holder of the original film upon which it is based (in this example, Luc Besson’s [La Femme] Nikita [1990]).(5)

The example of the American remake of Nikita not only demonstrates that a “triangular relationship” fails to accommodate remakes of those films based upon original stories and screenplays, but highlights the difficulty of Leitch’s suggestion that remakes compete with earlier versions and his belief that successful remakes supersede and so “typically threaten the economic viability of their originals” (139). To stay with the example of the French-Italian production of Nikita, it seems doubtful that, having successfully played an art-cinema circuit and having been released to home video (variously under the categories of “cult,” “festival,” and “arthouse”), the appearance of The Assassin, initially as a first run theatrical release and then as a mainstream video release would have any appreciable impact (either positive or negative) upon the former’s “economic viability.” Admittedly, The Assassin was not promoted as a remake of the Besson film, but even a widely publicized remake such as Martin Scorsese’s 1991 version of Cape Fear(6) did not occasion the burial, or even diminish the cult following, of J. Lee Thompson’s earlier (1961) version. On the contrary, the theatrical release of the Scorsese film (accompanied by press releases and reviews foregrounding its status as remake) prompted first a video release and then a prime-time national television screening of the Thompson version. The reciprocity of the two versions is further exemplified by Sight and Sound’s running together of a lead article by Jim Hoberman on Scorsese and Cape Fear and a second, briefer article comparing the two versions (“[n]ovelist … Jenny Diski watches a video of the first Cape Fear and the Scorsese remake–and compares them”) and giving details of the availability of the (then recently) re-released CIC video of the 1961 version (see Hoberman “Sacred and Profane”; Diski “The Shadow Within”). While reciprocity may not always be the case–in the international marketplace a local remake may supplant an earlier foreign language and/or culture version(7)–it seems that contemporary remakes generally enjoy a more symbiotic relationship than Leitch’s account would have us believe.

While the above examples suggest that Leitch overestimates the extent to which some remakes compete with original film versions, his recognition of the impact that innovations in television technology, particularly home video, have had upon shaping the relationship between a remake and its earlier versions should not be underestimated. Leitch states that during the studio-dominated era of the thirties and forties it was at least in part the belief that films had a “strictly current value” that enabled studios such as Warners to recycle The Maltese Falcon three times in ten years (Roy Del Ruth, 1931; William Dieterle, 1936 [as Satan Met a Lady]; and John Huston, 1941) and release many “unofficial remakes” of its own films (139), although the re-release of successful features, particularly during the late forties and early fifties, gave some films a limited currency outside their initial year of release (see McElwee), the majority of films held in studio libraries were not available for re-viewing until the mid-fifties when the major studios decided to sell or lease their libraries to television. The release of thousands of pre-1948 features into the television market not only gave the general public the opportunity to see many films that had been held in studio archives since their initial year of release, but provided the possibility of seeing different versions of the same property, produced years or even decades apart, within weeks or even days of each other. Moreover, the television broadcasting of films provided the further possibility of viewing remakes outside of the temporal order of their production, i.e., the repeated screening of the same features meant that it was inevitable that the broadcast of a remake would precede the screening of its original. While Leitch does not address the impact of television, his recognition that a remake and its original circulate in the same video marketplace draws attention to the fact that the introduction of an information storage technology such as videotape radically extends the kind of film literacy, the ability to recognize and cross-reference multiple versions of the same property, that is inaugurated by the age of television.

The ever-expanding availability of texts and technologies and the unprecedented awareness of film history among new Hollywood filmmakers and contemporary audiences are closely related to the general concept of intertextuality, an in principle determination which requires that texts be understood not as self-contained structures but as “the repetition and transformation of other [absent] textual structures” (Frow, “Intertextuality and Ontology” 45). Generally speaking, in the case of remakes these intertextual structures are stabilized, or limited, through the naming and (usually) legally sanctioned (i.e., copyrighted) use of a particular literary and/or cinematic source which serves as a retrospectively designated point of origin and semantic fixity. In addition, the intertextual structures (unlike those of genre) are highly particular in their repetition of narrative units, and these repetitions most often (though certainly not always) relate to “the order of the message” rather than to that of “the code” (45).(8) While these factors yield some degree of consensus, any easy categorization of the remake is frustrated by (i) films which do not credit an “original” text, but which repeat both general and particular elements of the original’s narrative unfolding, e.g., Body Heat as an uncredited remake of Double Indemnity and The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, 1983) as an unacknowledged remake of The Return of the Secaucus Seven (John Sayles, 1980);(9) and (ii) films based on a like source–a literary work or historical incident–but which differ significantly in their treatment of narrative units, e.g., The Bounty (Roger Donaldson, 1984) as a “non-remake” of Mutiny on the Bounty (Frank Lloyd, 1935 and Lewis Milestone, 1962). Furthermore, the intertextual referentiality between either “non-remakes” or “unacknowledged remakes” and their “originals” is to a large extent “extratextual” (Friedberg 175-76), being conveyed through institutions such as film reviewing and exhibition, for example, the BFI/National Film Theatre’s programmed describes four films from Paul Schrader scripts–Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976), Rolling Thunder (John Flynn, 1977), Hardcore, and Patty Hearst (Paul Schrader, 1979 and 1988)–as “updates” of The Searchers (John Ford, 1956) (“The Searchers: A Family Tree”).

In the case of Leitch’s typology, we have seen that the remake is categorized according to whether the intertextual referent is literary (the “readaptation,” the “update”) or cinematic (the “homage,” the “true remake”). In the latter case, Leitch states that while homages, such as The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982) and Invaders from Mars (Tobe Hooper, 1986), establish direct intertextual relations to their original films, these quotations or “rewards … take the form of throwaway jokes whose point is not necessary to the [films’] continuity, and which therefore provide an optional bonus of pleasure to those in the know” (141). While this may seem consistent with Umberto Eco’s account of the “intertextual dialogue” (i.e., the instance where a quotation is explicit and recognizable to an increasingly sophisticated, cine-literate audience), what Leitch does not sufficiently stress is that his examples of the homage (and of the true remake)–all drawn from the new Hollywood cinema–suggest a historically specific response to a post-modern (or post-Jaws) circulation and recirculation of images and texts. This does not mean that the classical Hollywood remake never takes an earlier film as its intertextual referent, but rather that, as the continuity system develops through the pre-classical period (1908-17), direct intertextual referentiality is displaced by an industrial imperative for standardization which prioritizes the intertextual relation of genres, cycles, and stars. Accordingly, as the classical narrative strives to create a coherent, self-contained fictional world according to specific mechanisms of intratextual repetition (or alternation), direct intertextual referentiality to either and/or both literary properties (novels, short-stories, plays, etc) and earlier film versions becomes an extratextual referentiality, carried by such apparatuses as advertising and promotional materials (posters, lobby cards, commercial tie-ins, etc), motion picture magazines, review articles, and academic film criticism.

What seems to happen with the new Hollywood cinema, particularly in the case of remakes, is that while the intratextual mechanisms of classical continuity are mostly respected, extratextual referentiality is sometimes complemented by what is perceived–within specific interpretive communities–as the explicit and recognizable intertextual quotation of plot motifs and stylistic features, peculiar to earlier film versions. To take a general example, the narrative of Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992) assumes as its primary intertexts the revisionist westerns of the sixties and seventies, and the Eastwood star persona, but (re)viewers additionally see the film as a kind of sequel (the Will Munny character as the now aged Man-with-no-name, from Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns) and as a homage to the films of both Sam Peckinpah and John Ford.(10) More specifically, Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear may be said to work perfectly well as a conventional thriller (a psychopath attacks a “normal”–in this case, dysfunctional–American family), but the new Cape Fear also “assumes [in its reworking of the original Bernard Herrmann score and the casting of original lead players in cameo roles] that the viewer has seen the earlier one, perhaps even as recently as Scorsese himself” (Hoberman 11). Another example, Jim McBride’s Breathless (1983), not only quotes the Godard original (A bout de souffle, 1959) in its smallest detail (a character’s name, a player’s gesture), but more generally embraces Godard’s enthusiasm for American pop-cultural iconography: the title song, “Breathless,” by the Killer–Jerry Lee Lewis; the Roy Lichtenstein-type lifts from Marvel Comics’ The Silver Surfer, the collectable American automobile–the 1957 Ford Thunderbird, the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. Finally, while it is possible to find similar examples in the classical cinema,(11) the point to be made here is that the type of intertextual referentiality which characterizes (some) contemporary American film circulates in a historically specific context, i.e., the identification of, and indeed the commercial decision to remake, an earlier film is grounded in particular extratextual, institutional, or discursive practices.

As in Noel Carroll’s discussion of new Hollywood “allusionism,” the question of intertextual referentiality needs to be related to the radical extension of film literacy and the enthusiasm for American film history that took hold in the United States during the sixties and early seventies. Partly made possible by the release of Hollywood features to television (which had come to function like a film archive) and the wider accessibility of new technologies (e.g., 16mm film projection), this re-evaluation, or legitimization, of Hollywood cultural product was underwritten by such additional factors as the importation of the French politique des auteurs, the upsurge of repertory theatre short-seasons, the expansion of film courses in American universities, and the emergence of professional associations such as the American Film Institute. Accordingly, and this is evident from the above examples–Unforgiven, Cape Fear, Breathless–the selection and recognition of films, and bodies of films, for quotation and reworking (the work of auteurs, Ford and Peckinpah; the cult movie, Cape Fear, the nouvelle vague landmark, A bout de souffle) can be located in the institutionally determined practice of film canon formation and its contributing projects–the discussion and citation of particular films in popular and academic film criticism, the selective release and re-release of films to theatrical and video distribution windows, and (in circular fashion) the decision of other filmmakers to evoke earlier films and recreate cinema history (see Staiger 4).

An understanding of the formation and maintenance of a film canon in turn goes some way toward explaining why remakes of institutionalized film noirs–e.g., D.O.A. (Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, 1988), No Way Out (Roger Donaldson, 1987), and Against All Odds (Taylor Hackford, 1984)–are discussed with reference to their originals (D.O.A.

[Rudolph Mate, 1949], The Big Clock [John Farrow, 1948], and Out of the Past [Jacques Tourneur, 1947], respectively), while films such as Martin Scorsese’s version of The Age of Innocence (1993) and James Dearden’s remake of A Kiss Before Dying (1991) defer, not to their little known, or (now) rarely seen, earlier film versions (The Age of Innocence [Wesley Ruggles, 1924 and Philip Moeller, 1934], and A Kiss Before Dying [Gerd Oswald, 1961]) but to the authority of an established literary canon: The Age of Innocence is based on Edith Wharton’s 1920 Pulitzer Prize winning novel; A Kiss Before Dying is adapted from a best-selling novel by Ira Levin. Indeed, and in accordance with the canonization of the work of Alfred Hitchcock, the more direct intertextual referent for the remake of A Kiss Before Dying is Hitchcock’s Vertigo–a clip from the film appears diegetically on a character’s television screen, and in addition to the “figure” of the doppelganger there is allusion to Hitchcockian plot structure and motif: “[l]iberally alluding to Hitchcock by killing off his leading actress in the first reel, Dearden includes subtler references like the washing out of hair-dye and the cop who just won’t leave” (Strick 50).

The suggestion that the very limited intertextual referentiality between the remake and its original is organized according to an extratextual referentiality located in historically specific discursive formations–such as copyright law and authorship, canon formation and film literacy–has consequences for purely textual descriptions of the remake, particularly those based on a rigid distinction between an original story and its new discursive incarnation (see Leitch 143).

Aside from the questionable move of assuming that the unchanging essence of a film’s story can somehow be abstracted from the mutable disposition of its expression (see Brunette and Wills 53), demarcation along the lines of story and discourse is evidently frustrated by those remakes which repeat not only the narrative invention of an original property but seek, for instance, to recreate the expressive design of an earlier film (e.g., Obsession as a reconstruction of the “mood and manner” of Hitchcock’s Vertigo [see Rosenbaum 217]) or to rework the style of an entire oeuvre or genre (e.

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