On Facebook, one of my friends had a complaint about the latest remake of Oz. The newest version is going to be able the man who would become the Wizard of Oz, but before he was the Wizard. Back when he was Oscar Diggs (at least, I think that’s the name). And she included the latest versions of Alice in Wonderland and Willy Wonka in the complaint.
One thing I want to address is that she felt the industry was ruining our childhood. And after I thought about it for a few days, I realized that our childhood memories are ruined if we allow them to be. If we hold onto the good times and the best parts of growing up, no one else can take that from us.
Now, I’m not trying to point fingers or accuse anyone of anything, but this has been sitting in my head for days and I’m trying to sort it all out.
I’m not copying and pasting the post here, but the main points of it were the re-make and the ruined childhood. And in the comments, someone went on to say something about the Wicked series, by Gregory Maguire. That is all I’m giving everyone to work with.
Now, re-makes are tricky. However, I believe that every tale has already been told. Most were covered by the early myths and fairy tales. All that anyone is doing at this point, is finding a new way to retell an old tale. You can link almost anything- Twilight to Romeo and Juliet to Tristan and Isolde. Today’s popular series, The Hunger Games, follows some the elements of the legend of the Minotaur and Theseus.
So, really, nothing is original.
However, we do have to find interesting and creative ways to retell and that takes skill. That is why I think the Wicked series and really, almost anything by Gregory Maguire is well done. He doesn’t just write a re-make; he goes through and he researches his subject. He must have copies of the Oz books that are filled with notations and pages of historical notes for Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Mirror, Mirror. I’m convinced that he must spend more time doing research than actually writing. Whatever he does pays off, because any of his books are interesting retellings, not just a book that I skim through and never read again.
Actually, a lot of what I read are obvious remakes; I think, in some ways, I’m trying to find the best re-write; so I read Robin McKinley’s Beauty and Rose Daughter, Jim C. Hines’ The Princess Series, Gregory Maguire’s books. I want to know that there are authors who know what they are doing, that are telling a good story and not just skating by on what’s popular, what’s flashy.
Some retellings are harder than others; Alice in Wonderland can’t be redone in its original form, but Zenescope’s comic book series about Alice’s daughter, Carroll Ann, is different and provides a darker twist to the Wonderland tale. Peter Pan is simply rewritten for every generation. Willy Wonka… Well, I think that both movies were more based on Roald Dahl’s original novel, which is good. It’s when a second director tries to remake the first director’s movie that things like that get messy. You should go back to the source. But I’m not sure that I like either movie to be honest.
And we keep trying to find a new original, or at least, an interesting “new” story.
Let me know when you find one.