When the Tribeca Film Festival was running this year, I knew I had to go to at least one screening. I poured over the options and made my decision: I would go see the documentary The Genius of Marian. Chief among the reasons for my choice was that I felt somewhat connected to the subject matter.
A fitting tribute to mothers, The Genius of Marian is a beautiful new documentary about a son chronicling his mother’s struggles with Alzheimer’s. Pam White has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Her mother, artist Marian Steele, also suffered from the disease before her death.
The Genius of Marian functions on two levels: on one, there is Pam working on a book about her mother, a process with which her son, director Banker White, helps her; on the other, White makes the film as a tribute to his own mother, chronicling her struggle with the disease.
My grandmother suffered from dementia the last few years of her life. Although I know that Alzheimer’s and dementia aren’t quite the same thing, they are similar enough that I always feel as though I sort of understand Alzheimer’s stories.
I was a preteen when my grandmother started to have her problems. I remember what it was like for my mom to watch her mother slowly lose touch with the real world. Towards the end, my mom observed that my grandmother wasn’t really suffering; she had created her own world. It was those around her, who knew what she had been like before dementia, who were quietly suffering.
News broke a year ago that someone was eying a new version of Rebecca, and it seems as though the project is indeed moving forward. Two days ago, it was announced not only that a script has been drafted but also that Danish director Nikolaj Arcel is attached to the project.
Inevitably, backlash against “remaking a Hitchcock film” started anew.
The timing of the announcement in particular struck me. Not a week ago, I used the new version of Rebecca as an example in my defense of readaptations.
I won’t rehash all my arguments from that post, but the main idea is this: Hitchcock did not create the story; it began as a novel by Daphne du Maurier. Why shouldn’t we see a new adaptation?
That said, here are five reasons why I, as a fan of both the book and the 1940 film, am terribly excited about the prospect of a new film.
Remakes have a bad reputation among movie lovers, who claim that they at the least are unnecessary and at the worst somehow ruin the original.
I agree that it would be folly to remake something like Citizen Kane or Sunset Blvd., whose claims to fame are the films themselves.
Some would argue that it would be the same folly to try to remake Gone with the Wind. But many people do not acknowledge that you can’t remake something like Gone with the Wind unless you plan to completely do away with its source material.
Remake vs. Readaptation
People throw around the term remake far too loosely; a lot of the time, the term readaptation would be more appropriate.
Last Sunday, I went to a children’s screening of the 1933 classic King Kong to celebrate its 80th anniversary, and I had so much fun watching the movie with kids and their parents that it made me think of my favorite experiences seeing a movie on the big screen in a darkened theater – the way we were meant to see them.
I used to take seeing movies on the big screen for granted; after all, every movie came out in theaters. It’s only as my interest in independent, foreign, and classic film developed that I came to crave theater showings.
There’s something special about seeing a film on the big screen with an audience. You can see the every detail of every frame right in front of you. With the right audience, the mood can be electric. There can be cheering and clapping and gasps. The audience can make you notice things you’d never seen in your favorite movie.
That said, here are some of my favorite experiences seeing movies on the big screen. I decided not to include any my experiences at last year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, which I’ve already written about at length.
It’s the end of the month, so it’s time for another Discovery post. Today, I chronicle my journey through the films of Charlie Chaplin. I’ve embedded some slightly spoilery clips in this post, but the discussion contains no major spoilers.
Early in my classic film fandom, I went through a phase of watching silent shorts. I wanted to discover silent film, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it through a feature. As I was scouring the Internet Archive, I came across Making a Living, the first appearance of Chaplin on screen, and decided to watch it.
This was a mistake.
I found Making a Living funny but nothing special, and it did not convince me to watch more Chaplin. A few months later, I watched Modern Times for the first time, and everything changed.