Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Risky Recycling: "The Wizard of Oz" and "All Quiet on the Western Front"

(clockwise from top left) Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, James Franco and Rachel Weisz.
In both exciting and discouraging news two classics are about to be messed with. Disney announced that their The Wizard of Oz prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful has begun production with the man, the myth James Franco jumping into the role of The Wizard. The story goes something like this:
"The pre-Wizard, a magician finds himself cast off into Oz. There he meets a sparkling group of sister witches — both good and bad — in Rachel Weisz as Evanora, Michelle Williams as Glinda and Mila Kunis as Theodora, and alongside his assistant, played by Zach Braff, he finds himself further and further immersed into the magical land.”

Gee, where's Shia LeBoeuf? Actually, the three women are really strong and James Franco is a good actor so maybe this production has a chance. Certainly is a fun idea. So, why the heck not do it and see what happens. What's another 150 million dollars (my guess at the budget) gambled on a movie. Recycling art is a great idea. I'm thinking about painting a prequel of Van Gogh's Starry Night and calling it something like, Starry: The Bright and Sunny Day.

The Wizard of Oz was selected to the National Film Registry in 1989 - the first year of Registry selections.

Detail from the theatrical poster for "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930)
We feature a segment on the classic war film All Quiet on the Western Front in our These Amazing Shadows DVD Bonus Feature, Lost Forever. A long time employee of the Library of Congress, David Thompson, made it his personal goal to restore this amazing work of art. His dedication and success in the restoration of AQWF shows how one person can make a difference in this crazy world.

Mimi Leder, who directed Deep Impact, The Peacemaker, and a lot of TV, will direct a new adaptation of Eric Maria Remarque’s classic novel. Leder will be working from a script by Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson. The press release announcing this new production of All Quiet on the Western Front says that in this version, "most of it takes place in the last 24 hours of the war.” One of the strengths of the original Best Picture Oscar winning version (directed by Lewis Milestone) is that you saw over time the changes that occur to the soldiers - so it is not clear why this new adaption is worth pursuing. Hummmm, Lewis Milestone vs. Mimi Leder. One hopes she can rise to the occasion.

All Quiet on the Western Front was selected to the National Film Registry in 1990. Another Lewis Milestone film, The Front Page (1931), was selected to the National Film Registry in 2010. The Front Page was remade by Billy Wilder in 1974.

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