Modern Filmmakers Should Prize Originality

I think that it is obvious that there is something to be said for originality. There are thousands of talented writers, animators and visionaries in this world of technology and appreciation for the arts, so why does it seem like every movie is a remake nowadays? The first franchise that should creep into your mind that has a horrible recycling habit is undoubtedly Disney. Some of these concepts were actually pretty interesting, like a creepy Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent getting her very own movie. However, others didn’t hit the creative mark and were almost verbatim the lines, songs and characters of the original animated versions. Beauty and the Beast    (2017) may have had the perks of impeccable aesthetics and adding a few more songs and plot changes, but a remake like The Lion King (2019) was an example of a low score on the originality scale. It seems like there are no new stories anymore, and the demand for sequels in addition to remakes is not alleviating this problem.

Just like a great deal of the population, I loved Frozen (2013). To me, it was one of the most unique Disney films and showed a modern understanding of relationships besides romantic ones and, beyond that, was a visual and musical treasure. With all of these factors, I am left to question if the coming sequel will even be necessary. Only every few franchises can come up with plot and character development as good as the first (The Godfather and The Incredibles could possibly be the only exceptions). This dilemma of “is another one even needed?” is the strongest with franchises such as Star Wars, which is owned by Disney, and Marvel movies. How many Spidermans can there be? How often is an Avengers movie going to come out? Like all businesses, the studios that create these films have their top priority: profits. No longer are filmmakers concerned with writing and producing something that challenges watchers and changes norms of previous works.

Beyond just the fact that sequels and remakes are stale and just longing for the profits and nostalgia of their originals, the need for innovative, new stories is what our climate needs right now. The best example of this comes from the movie boom during the Great Depression. Although one would assume that with the market’s crash, film studios would experience a similar downfall, they were actually successful, as people were willing to spare some money for an escape at the movie theater. Between 1930 and 1939, classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and the movie versions of Gone with the Wind (1940), Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and, of course, The Wizard of Oz (1939) were all released and showed some of the greatest box office successes to date. After this trying time and into the stress of World War II, movies were made to entertain the troops and keep spirits high on the home front, peaking at the creation of one of the most popular and highly acclaimed works of all time, Casablanca (1942). During a time in the United States and around the world in which so much divide and uncertainty of safety and future is occuring, the magic of the movies is needed for some relief.

Perhaps it may be therapeutic to remember old times by watching remakes and sequels, but that is also why DVDs, streaming services and movie downloads are made available. Instead of needing to make new Star Wars movies for the younger generations to watch, the older generations that enjoyed the original six episodes should encourage these young people to watch the old movies. Additionally, it would be absurd for studios to not take advantage of the influx of people getting educated for this exact field, as the options of film and performing arts majors are becoming more popular and advanced. With people begging to write and produce, there does not need to be a repeat of the same exact plots and songs just because someone from the 1990s wants to see The Lion King in a slightly different animated version of itself.