Political Projections: Remakes

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Political films are among the most frequently remade films in Hollywood. We compare the originals and remakes of “All the King’s Men” and “The Manchurian Candidate” to see how each depicts the politics of the time in which it was made.

Philip Gianos of California State University, Fullerton, is the author of Politics and Politicians in American Film. Independent scholar and journalist Gaspar Gonzalez is co-author of What Have They Built You to Do?: The Manchurian Candidate and Cold War America.

The movies we'll discuss are:

“All the King’s Men” (1949) – Robert Rossen directed this classic political film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Robert Penn Warren, a thinly veiled portrait of Depression-era Louisiana governor Huey Long.

“All the King’s Men” (2006): Steven Zaillian wrote and directed this remake, which remains largely faithful to the original version.

“The Manchurian Candidate” (1962): John Frankenheimer directed this classic political thriller that, when first released, was considered far ahead of its time.

“The Manchurian Candidate” (2004): Jonathan Demme directed this remake, updating its themes and plotlines to address the Bush Administration’s war on terror.

Watch the films, and then weigh in: How do you think the remakes compare to the original versions? How are the films shaped by the politics of the times in which they were made?


Philip Gianos and Gaspar Gonzalez

Comments [1]

inquisigal from Brooklyn

A sad coincidence - a film crew is out in front of my office in Dumbo filming a remake of "The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3." I can only imagine how they intend to inject this classic with modern updates - likely having to do with Al Quada or some other Middle Eastern "terrorist" organization. As a former film student and filmmaker, I am disheartened by a remake of "Pelham," as the time, place, and climate that existed when it was originally conceived were important aspects of the tone and characterization of the film. I am against the laziness of producers taking films that were great as is, and updating them, as opposed to taking advantage of the wealth of creative writing talent that could conceive of a NEW film that could represent and portray our times in a new way.

May. 06 2008 01:20 PM

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