Past to Present: Movies Through It All

What do movies all have in common that we like so much? Unpredictability. But for some this isn’t as easy as it seems. Pixar is a mainly child based film industry so most of their works are pretty predictable. Toy Story, Wall-E, Up, and many more all have extremely predictable endings; the good guy lives and the bad guy looses, but rule number 12 says to get the obvious out of the way and to look for something new and exciting. Pixar must have a harder time with this than they originally hoped for…

But what does this say about writers as people? They’re extremely creative, for one. So many things have been done and then done again that it’s hard to come up with or find new angles for things. We’re programmed to see it one way so trying to see it in a new light is much harder than we may originally think. I used to want to be a writer when I grew up, and I would write stories in my journals all the time. Looking back, they’re all the same stories with different variations here and there. My writing dreams quickly came to a halt.

What do we do when we run out of stories? Honestly, how many times can someone write a story and shoot a movie about being very fast and very furious? (Apparently the answer is 8 and maybe more to come.) What will happen when we finally have no more stories to tell?

I actually think this is already happening with Disney in particular. Beauty and the Beast was originally released in 1991 and in 2017 a remake with live people will be coming to a theater near you. The same has been done with The Jungle Book, Tarzan, and some spinoffs have been made of Alice in Wonderland as well as countless others. But who’s to say this is a bad thing? This allows us to relive our childhood for those of us who grew up watching these classics and allows these stories to continue on in to later generations. Maybe it’s not so bad that we’re running out of ideas after all.

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3 thoughts on “Past to Present: Movies Through It All

  1. I think that it’s more important to have your audience identify with your character than to tell an original story. People have favorite genres because they are drawn to a particular type of story. Many of these stories are very similar. However, what really matters is that they care about what happens to the characters. The successful movies that you listed that are being remade are examples of stories where the audience cared. You wanted Mogli to survive. You wanted Belle to save the Beast. And maybe you wanted them to win the race. Look at the Fast and Furious. I love these movies. I don’t love them for their originality. The first is basically Point Break with cars. I love them because I love the characters. I care what happens to them. So I will watch sequel after sequel so that I can follow their story because I am invested in it. I agree with you that these remakes allow us to relive our childhood. But I think that these stories are being retold because they have meaning rather than people are running out of ideas.

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  2. This is a debate creators have been having for hundreds of years: have all the stories already been told? And if they have, is that necessarily bad? Pixar has had some powerful successes, but if you peel away the thing that’s new about them, they’re very simple stories at their cores.

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  3. @Aimee: excellent point. A lot of interesting work has been done on how genres work as a tool to help viewers/readers/listeners assess and categorize works according to their similarities *and* differences. A book written in the 90s does this particularly well with film: it’s by Rick Altman and it’s called *Film/Genre*. You might want to check it out. 🙂

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