Rant: Repainting films

I’ve spent many days and evenings escaping real life and CF by watching movies – good, bad and mind-blowing. However, I’m irritated by trend of the enhanced version, or director’s cut, or need to release a second version of a great film for increased profits. It cheapens classics and makes me wonder why this craze haunts the film industry and not other art forms. What about novels and paintings?

Apple products would have a huge role in the new version. HC can visit the NYC Apple store.

If we can re-do films, why not pen updated versions of the Catcher in the Rye or Catch-22? Or paint new brush strokes on the Mona Lisa. Perhaps my examples are cheating, as the novels came out in a different time period when movies didn’t get updated (along with the fact J.D. Salinger, Norman Mailer and da Vinci are long gone).  However, should that really matter? Couldn’t these works be freshened up for modern audiences? Think of the possibilities: Mona Lisa sports a Bluetooth headset in her ear, reflecting the busy, independent woman she is now. The current painting doesn’t do her lifestyle justice. In the repainted version, the porcelain veneers of her $10K J Lo smile sparkle when she’s caught mid-sentence ordering another five thousand shares of DreamWorks stock.

Let’s not stop at paintings. Think of the possibilities when it comes to adding modern, marketable technology to novels. Holden Caulfield gets a cell phone to use in TCITR II, the Technology Cut. Or better yet, Holden gets an iPod playing marketable hits while he walks around New York City contemplating life, which will be the cherry on top to sell the music rights for a massive amount of money. Now there’ll be a Catcher soundtrack album, or two, and a Holden Caulfield special-edition iPod. And McDonald’s Catcher in the Rye drink glasses that will be recalled due to some nasty Chinese metal in the coating that causes us all to want to kill ourselves, which is how I feel thinking about this.

There is no greater example of my hatred of revisionist history than Star Wars, which I remember waiting three hours to see when it was released and have since seen a dozen times. But, and it hurts to say this, George Lucas has killed it for me with updated versions that include added scenes that weren’t part of the original footage. In the ultimate unfair do-over, he added scenes created with new special-effects technology. Why not just re-shoot the entire movie with new technology, George, if you’re going to apply that rule? Why make a quilt of old and new? Might as well get rid of the cheap masks in the cantina scene while you’re tinkering with your masterpiece.

Imagine the Na'vi in pink or purple or ecru or Home Depot orange, the latter creating unique marketing opportunities

Why not re-shoot the whole damn thing, George? Re-shoot it every year with new actors and you’ll have a billion-dollar hit every June. Or, instead of re-releasing 4 or 5 different versions of your crowning achievement, as you clearly screwed up the last four of the movies you made, why not let someone else take a spin with the characters and make new movies? My eight-year-old daughter would jump at the chance to see new Star Wars films, not Star Wars films with new scenes.

I know my cause is hopeless. There’s too much money involved. And that’s our world now. Marketing and packaging – or repackaging. Maximizing the return. I don’t blame anyone. I would do the same thing if given the chance. If I had made Avatar and had had total artistic control, I wouldn’t release a second version less than a year later like James Cameron did. No, no, no –  I’d release a new version every month with different skin colors for the “Na’vi.” Then, when I ran out of colors, I would give the Na’vi iPads. Today, Avatar 1, version 27, would be in theaters.

Oh, well, it’s a shame some artists can’t leave their masterpieces alone. It makes me sad, though hopeful that one day someone will release a director’s cut of Troll 2. Hopefully the new version will be a total of nine minutes long and come with 100 dollars in cash for those of us who wasted two hours of our lives watching it the first time. One can only hope.