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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Updating Mythology

I just finished watching Sci-Fi Channel's Tin Man, a modernization of the L. Frank Baum classic, The Wizard of Oz. I give a review of the first in the series over to The Rundown and will actually review the entire show later this weekend (they are replaying the entire series Sunday afternoon) there as well, but I wanted to post here about the updating of mythologies, because Wizard of Oz is truly an American fairy tale and we have discussed this sort of thing here before.

Before the show aired, I saw a special about the making of it and someone mentioned that "all classics need to be reworked once every 50 years to make it accessible to modern viewers." But, as I say in the review of the first episode, this current reworking really didn't so much rework anything as just modernize it - and there is a difference.

While I'm going to cover this more in the review later on, Tin Man didn't really remain true to the story and instead "hipped" it up with a bunch of pointless lingo, acronyms to replace names, and digressions from the original story. In truth, it didn't retell the classic as try to reinvent it. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but I found the entire promotion of it misleading.

Imagine if they did Little Red Riding in da Hood along the lines of the Grand Theft Auto videogame - it just isn't the same story, doesn't have the same focus, and doesn't carry the same weight.

I haven't seen the new Beowulf movie, but the trailers lead me to think that it is truly more an update of the original story - simply presenting it with better special effects and keeping the adult themes and subject matter (subtly intoned or completely jettisoned in the original) intact in the narrative. If Beowulf had become a Nicaraguan guerilla, fighting the oppressive Grendela regime with laser guns and running drugs on the side to fund their operations... well, that just wouldn't be the same, would it?

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