I have taken a break from my Criterion overviews (for now) to try to branch out. I am trying to put together a list of the most influential films in history. Hopefully, that will be up this week. In the meantime, I would like to share something.
Did anyone know about this? I did not. And, currently, I am very sorry that I do. This is, far and away, one of the worst films to remake. I know somewhere, Jerry Bruckheimer has proposed a remake to “Casablanca” directed by Michael Bay and staring Shia Lebouf, but that has not been made. This apparently has.
I will get to the point. The original Fame may be the greatest high school film of all time (outside of Heathers obviously). the most notable aspect of it was that the kids in the film felt like kids. They were slowly making that transition from childhood to adulthood and invited the audience to actually be a part of that movie. Other films (John Hughes films, for example) have given us a glimpse of that transition and done so very successfully. But this was not just a glimpse. It was gritty, it was morbid, it was also fascinating and had a modicum of hope splashed in. I am not sure if you remember, but teenagers have always attempted to find ways to stand out. They compete to be the best more so than any other person at any other age. Believe me. Give them guns and you would have a war. Fame understood this and made no excuses for it.
In addition, the film offered a gritty look at life in general. There is reference to drug use, nudity (including one touching scene in which Irene Cara is forced to strip for the camera, tears in her eyes) and death. In other words, items you can find in life in larger cities. Once again, no excuses were made for it. It was presented for the audience to make up their minds
How “real” did the film get? There was a scene in which the kids go to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Silly, but somehow accurate regarding youth.
What is my point? Since 2005 and Disney’s banal High School Musical, this sort of film has become almost a parody of itself. Gone is emotion, gone is reality. Instead, the kids today are bombarded with a highly idealized version of that age. There is little conflict, and everyone is special. In other words, it is the exact opposite of everything Fame stood for. But the thing is, this caricature sells more than street crack. I cannot say without having seen the full film, but judging by the trailer, it is quite obvious the film makers are making the film with this mentality in mind.
It was flashy, it was edited like a hip hop video. Alan Parker’s sensibilities have been replaced by a man who’s previous credits include a Britney Spears concert and Pussycat Doll music videos. Even the title sparkles. There is no grit. There is only flash. And the remake of the song…well, normally that is a seperate matter, but here it plays into the theme perfectly. It, too, has been turned into flash where the original still maintained…well flash. But it played into the film and attempted to break a boy out of his shell. And what is with the tribal dancing? I cannot recall a single sequence in the original film that matches it. What is it?
I am sure I will publish a full review when it comes out. But for now…well, if this is the initial trailer, then I think the review will pretty much write itself.