Film Remakes pp 129-150 | Cite as


  • Constantine Verevis


In an essay on the adaptation of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor (as Claire Denis’s Beau Travail, 1999), Catherine Grant points out that ‘the most important act that films and their surrounding discourses need to perform in order to communicate … their status as adaptations is to (make their audiences) recall the adapted work, or the cultural memory of it’.1 This process of recollection is, of course, realised through texts and is inseparable from them, but alongside textual descriptions it is necessary to analyse those textual activators2 — the various extra-textual modes and means — which enable the recognition of adaptations and their sources. In the case of remaking, the ability to identify and cross reference a remake similarly comes about not only through prior knowledge of previous texts and intertextual comparisons, but also from the extra-textual discourses surrounding the viewing experience. As in the case of film genre, it is necessary to acknowledge the multi-dimensional nature of remaking, not only textual structures but contextual determinants, such factors as ‘the importance of audience knowledge and audience expectation’, and of ‘industry [discourses] and film reviewers’.3 Additionally, because remaking can refer to more general structures of intertextuality (quotation, allusion, adaptation), the identification of a film remake is not restricted to the recognition of textual patterns of similarity, but can be achieved through classifying statements and ‘common cultural consensus’.4 This serves to shift attention from the texts of remaking to an interest in audience activity and institutional contexts, raising such critical questions as: ‘How [is] “a common cultural consensus” … established? What agencies and institutions are involved? What is the role of the film industry? [and] What is the role of film critics [and] film reviewers?’5


Consumer Culture Cultural Memory Original Film Critical Practice Production Note 
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© Constantine Verevis 2005

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