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#116. Originals of Adaptations

Ideas for movies often come from many sources. Most often, a literary work is turned into a film version, with varying results in terms of quality. Sometimes original ideas are used, but those are increasingly rare in this modern Hollywood which is more interested in sequels and remakes than anything original. And yet, what’s strange is that sometimes movies are the source of more movies. Now, I’m not talking about sequels, remakes, or even reboots, but rather films based on past films. While you might argue that reboots fill this category, I’m referring to something a bit different: films adapted from films. While reboots may have the same characters in a different plot and remakes have both the same characters and plot, adapted films have the same plot, but different characters. This week’s two films look at some originals that were eventually adapted.

The Great EscapeThe Great Escape
Year: 1963
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 172 minutes / 2.86 hours

There have been many films that have covered World War II, and of those films there have been many that have covered the war-camp aspect of this global conflict. And yet, when you make a movie that is as memorable and classic as The Great Escape, it’s hard not to adapt it to future movies about the same topic. Oftentimes, the motifs and themes brought forth in a film like this are used in comedy. Once it becomes part of the popular culture, it is liable to be poked fun at and stolen outright. Of course, one does wonder why a film would have such a large cultural impact, and I believe that The Great Escape does so by taking a serious subject (prisoners of war) and making it lighter and entertaining. After all, at that point, there’s not much of a stretch to chickens.

Perhaps the most famous prisoner of war escape ever executed, The Great Escape tells the story of an American captain (Steve McQueen) and a group of British soldiers who manage to make their way out of a camp that the Germans believed was “escape proof.” Through some intense planning and teamwork, the imprisoned soldiers cleverly hide the fact that they’re digging a tunnel to escape. By the time that their Nazi captors find the tunnel, over 50 soldiers have made their way outside of the camp and are on their way to freedom. Unfortunately, most of them are captured again and brought back to the camp, or are killed in the chase. Based on a true story, The Great Escape is a film that is referenced often, including the clay animated movie, Chicken Run (2000).

Seven SamuraiSeven Samurai
Year: 1954
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 141 minutes / 2.35 hours

Many consider Seven Samurai one of the greatest pieces of work in all of film. This Japanese movie has been imported through an adaptation of the basic plot in the film, The Magnificent Seven (1960). However, nothing can quite compare to Akira Kurosawa’s original masterpiece. And yet, this story that was created sixty years ago has seen its influence in other films as well. Aside from the western mentioned earlier, Seven Samurai was the basis for A Bug’s Life as well as the futuristic anime, Samurai 7 (the latter of which was a more faithful adaptation). I think that with all these great adaptations, it’s no wonder that this film is considered one of the greatest, not only of Japanese cinema, but across the entire world as well. After all, who doesn’t love a good underdog story?

Set in Japan in the 1600’s, the plot revolves around a small village that has been frequently attacked by a group of guerrilla thieves. In order to save their village, the elders hire seven unemployed samurai to protect their town. Receiving nothing in payment but food and shelter, these seven misfits manage to repel the thieves and protect the village. Of course, even with the skills of the samurai protecting them, these rural folk are still going to have a difficult time repelling the future attacks of the thieves. Even though a samurai is a well honed fighting machine, even seven of them couldn’t possibly stand up against an army of attackers. Despite its 2 and a half hour length, Seven Samurai deserves a viewing due to the quality of the emotion, drama and action.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 originals adapted for future films

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One response to “#116. Originals of Adaptations

  1. Pingback: End of Act Three | Cinema Connections

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