are certain films that hold a unique place in history… and Hollywood
had better keep their grubby, remaking mitts off of them! While the
trend to “re-imagine” or “re-envision” everything around them has been
going on for some time, these films have so far managed to escape the
fate of some of their less fortunate compatriots. I speak of course
The 25 Movies They’d Better Never Remake.
films are not just near and dear to our hearts, they should be
considered OFF-LIMITS to those jerks at the studios. The films on this
list were special when they premiered and continue to be so today, and
we’re going to explain why they shouldn’t be remade – as well as why
they can’t be. So enough jabbering, on with the list!
Apocalypse Now (1979)
DIRECTED BY: Francis Ford Coppola
WRITTEN BY: John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola
STARRING: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford
It opens with a wall of palm trees, a few passing helicopters that make only hallucinatory sounds. Soon the dreary tones of The Door‘s “The End” cue and the frame grows milky and obscured by yellow fog. Suddenly, hell streaks across the treeline and we start our long, life-changing journey into Vietnam and Cambodia. It contains a dozen film’s worth of iconic lines, shots, and sequences, and a dozen-and-a-half film’s worth of production nightmares, alternate cuts, and raw footage. It is Apocalypse Now, and it is almost universally agreed to be one of the greatest films of all time.
The result of one man’s nearly obsessive, nearly suicidal attempt to
make the ultimate war film, it is absolutely irreplaceable and
untouchable, and for any other film to try and carry its name would be
misunderstanding that Apocalypse Now is not just a film, it is a
filmmaking endeavor with several years of history that drip from every
frame. Roughly a take on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, it is also strongly imbued with the spirit of Dante, and vividly recalls the spiraling descent into madness that is Aguirre: Wrath of God.
The exact origin of the idea is debated, but John Milius is ultimately responsible for the script, encouraged to write a war film by some buddies of his you may have heard of, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, with Coppola financing it. In the mid-70s Coppola found himself very strongly drawn to the script and wanted to see it made, though being knee-deep in gangsters made him look to Milius and Lucas before eventually settling on directing it himself. In 1976 Coppola finally found himself in the jungle shooting a film for which it would take well over a year to complete principle photography, and even longer to finish out the sound and settle on a cut. Actors were replaced, had heart attacks, were too fat to shoot the script properly, while the press did all they could to tear down any legitimacy the disaster-plagued production had. It’s all well cataloged in the famous documentary Hearts of Darkness.
As for the resultant film though, it’s more than a labor of extreme dedication and difficulty, it’s a brilliant look at a war which put those fighting into a situation that removed every rule of civilization they had ever learned. Apocalypse Now perhaps comes closer than any other film or artwork in history to effectively communicating a place and time that is unknowable except for those that fought there and then. However, it goes beyond commenting on a specific war, or war in general, and looks deep into the spirit of men and the darkness that lies there. It’s a creeping journey into the mind and soul of man, when pushed to the very limit of still being able to be called such.
- The bizarre, uncomfortably real hotel room freakout, complete with legitimate hand wound!
- Kilgore. Just the dude. And his name.
- Kilgore’s almost-touching war ethics that have him sharing water with a fallen VC, that are then immediately discarded at the mention of surfing.
- Dennis Hopper’s photographer that may or may not be taking pictures with actual film.
- Kurtz washin’ his dome, talking about heavy shit (man).
- Buffalo’s bad day.
- Too many to name.
A remake would disrespectful simply because it could never be anything more than the appropriation of a title. Apocalypse Now the film is inseparable from Apocalypse Now the production. There are other good Vietnam films, and perhaps more to be made, but for any of them to try and carry the name would be ridiculous.
Now, what I won’t do is dismiss the possibility of spiritual remakes that take on similar subject matter or reinterpret Heart of Darkness. It’s said the original idea and script for Tron 2 took this approach, treating Flynn as a Kurtz figure, and that idea (if not that specific implementation) could be a really cool one to apply to another subject. There are certainly more journeys that spiral into catastrophe about which to tell stories, and there are certainly more grotesqueries of the human nature to explore.
Bay’s been producing remakes all over town, using his Platinum Dunes
company as a front. So naturally he’d be the logical choice to spearhead
any attempt at remaking this classic. How would it pan out, you ask?
- Samuel Bayer of Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 fame (and several dozen legitimately great music videos, admittedly) directs Apocalypse Forever, a modern take on the story in Afghanistan that ditches the boat and river for desert convoy. Script is still slavishly devoted and each set piece and scene has its mirror in the caves and brush.
- A well-intentioned Jesse Eisenberg stars, reflecting the video game generation now fighting.
- Script tries to do justice to our current conflicts and what they mean for our soldiers, but ultimately gets clogged with clunky commentary and paper-thin subtext.
- Constant CGI backgrounds and vehicles remove any possible thematic weight the film could possess.
- Nickelback and other bad chest-thumping rock fills the soundtrack.
- Brando’s role is given to Nic Cage, who simply goes for weird and crazy without the… whatever the hell it is Brando had.
The Man Who Would Be King – Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Third Man – Serpico – Blazing Saddles
Jaws – Blade Runner
Rocky – North by Northwest – The Outlaw Josey Wales
Grease – Apocalypse Now