04 March, 2006

A Remake Thing.

Every ostensibly new thing proves to have its antecedents. Perhaps we should not look for originality in some innovatively exceptional creation, but rather in the reworking of pre-existing material, in the ability to find new connections, contexts and hence meanings in what is already at hand. No film or in fact “thing,” thought or idea, can stand alone as a wellspring of innovation. As such, the film remake occupies a paradoxical position. On the one hand, however divergent or different a remake is from the original, it is still a repetition or maybe an attempt to hold onto the past. On the other hand, even the most mimetic of remakes differ from their reference points.
Like the myths of old that are told repeatedly in differing ways, film remakes offer-updated perspectives on old ideas. While remaking may attest to the intrinsic timelessness of the material being treated, repetition alone is not a criterion of timelessness. Repetition develops, expands and reflects on the previous occurrences, to elucidate the past turned present. Thus, all events and proceedings are formed of precedings. The practice of repetition does not make or even attempt to make perfect but rather makes richer and more textured reproductions of unfolding revelations. Thus, humankind becomes a historicist.
In this paper, I shall illustrate, through the evolution of the Thing creature to its culmination in John Carpenter’s The Thing, that remakes not only reflect the time in which they are made, but they also, examine through restructure, the death and rebirth of the creative process reflected in the motifs of the “eternal return” and resistance to change. Further, I would argue that remakes like Kierkegaard’s concept of repetition are in constant motion and connected to the future. Thus the act of repetition forwards in a culture, where progress counts most, suggests remaking signifies humanities historicism through repetition.