Jack Lowden

The Tunnel (Sky Atlantic) (2013) [DVD]

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tunnel-0As far as reasons for screen remakes go, the only genuinely valid ones are that the original wasn’t all that good and/or that you really do have a better, original way of tackling the story. After all, some of the all-time classics we love like The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca were themselves remakes of earlier inferior films in their day, but ever since the classic version was produced filmmakers have wisely stayed away from approaching them again knowing that however good a new production might be, it will still fail badly in detailed comparison.

Simply remaking something because today’s teenage cinema-going demographic allegedly isn’t interested in watching anything more than five years old (let alone anything as archaic as a black and white film) is a thick-headed excuse by comparison. And simply trying to cash in on a bit of nostalgia is both cynical and utterly misguided, as demonstrated by last year’s The Man From Uncle the title of which not only meant nothing at all to today’s teens but actively put them off by being both confusing and misleading. And bottom of the heap when it comes to justifying remakes must be the “We’re only doing it to fulfil the terms of a business contract” as evidenced by both The Amazing Spider-Man and last year’s Fantastic 4, which brought nothing new to the table/was quite spectacularly awful respectively.

Arguably somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of acceptable reasons to remake a film or TV programme relates to the case where an original is in a foreign language (non-English in this context). There are a lot of cinema goers and TV viewers who simply won’t countenance watching something that is either dubbed or subtitled under any circumstances: I confess that I myself find the former very difficult, but of course have no problem with the latter as shown by the amount of genuine Nordic Noir fare I’ve lapped over over the last few years.

And it’s Nordic Noir that has inspired quite a number of remakes in recent times, with Forbrydelsen being adapted as The Killing for the US television market that went on to run for four seasons, and more recently the first series of The Bridge that was remade in both the US/Mexico and then in Britain/France. In the latter production, the pivotal role of the Øresund Bridge (which directly links Denmark and Sweden) was cleverly replaced by the Eurotunnel and hence the series was accordingly retitled The Tunnel. Read the rest of this entry »

War and Peace E1 (BBC One) (2016)

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peace-0I’ve never been one of those people who have been remotely tempted to ‘tackle’ any of the great classics – those 19th century works of literature that come in inch-thick doorstopper editions capable of causing subsidence to the average bedside table. It’s true that many people do see this activity as some sort of lifetime milestone that has to be undertaken at some point, the sedentary equivalent of running a marathon or climbing Everest; they grit their teeth, put their head down and plan their campaign as if going off to battle.

I am not one of those people. Frankly if a book doesn’t appeal to me intrinsically as something that I actually want to read and would enjoy doing so then nothing and no one is going to persuade me otherwise, and I shall be moving quickly on. After all there are a lot of excellent modern books out there that do appeal to me that I also have yet to get around to, so I’m simply not going to squander my short time on this planet on something that people tell me that I should read just so that I can boast about the alleged achievement. I’m perfectly happy to leave that to others who really do enjoy doing such things.

The idea of a 1,225-page tome about the lives and loves of the old Russian aristocracy with unpronounceable names in 1805 simply holds no such inherent appeal. Accordingly the task of reading Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace is so far down my to-do list that I would need two or three lifetimes for it to make it to the top of the pile. While watching a TV adaptation of the novel is a distinctly less challenging prospect – the latest BBC adaptation only requires one’s attention for a relatively scant six hours in total – I’m afraid that my ambivalence toward the novel quickly spilled over to a firm resistance toward embarking upon the small screen version as well. Only the slightest nagging sense of intellectual obligation – that I really should at least give something a chance before completely dismissing it – made me think that I had to sample a few minutes of the first episode to see how far I could actually get before gratefully throwing in the towel and moving on. Read the rest of this entry »