Film Remakes as Ritual and Disguise: From Carmen to Ripley

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Amsterdam University Press, 2006 - Performing Arts - 158 pages
The first full-length history of the remake in cinema, Film Remakes as Ritual and Disguise is also the first book to explore how and why these stories are told. 

Anat Zanger focuses on contemporary retellings of three particular tales—Joan of Arc, Carmen, and Psycho—to reveal what she calls the remake’s “rituals of disguise.” Joan of Arc, Zanger demonstrates, later appears as the tough, androgynous Ripley in the blockbuster Alien series and the God-ridden Bess in Lars Von Trier’s Breaking the Waves. Ultimately, these remake chains offer evidence of the archetypes of our own age, cultural “fingerprints” that are reflective of society’s own preferences and politics. Underneath the redundancy of the remake, Zanger shows, lies our collective social memory.  Indeed, at its core the lowly remake represents a primal attempt to gain immortality, to triumph over death—playing at movie theaters seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

Addressing the wider theoretical implications of her argument with sections on contemporary film issues such as trauma, jouissance, and censorship, Film Remakes as Ritual and Disguise is an insightful addition to current debates in film theory and cinema history.


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Page 82 - The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment : for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
Page 45 - Text of pleasure: the text that contents, fills, grants euphoria; the text that comes from culture and does not break with it, is linked to a comfortable practice of reading. Text of bliss: the text that imposes a state of loss, the text that discomforts (perhaps to the point of a certain boredom), unsettles the reader's historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language.
Page 15 - The cinematic institution is not just the cinema industry (which works to fill cinemas, not to empty them). It is also the mental machinery — another industry — which spectators "accustomed to the cinema" have internalised historically, and which has adapted them to the consumption of films.
Page 75 - Through her transvestism, she abrogated the destiny of womankind. She could thereby transcend her sex; she could set herself apart and usurp the privileges of the male and his claims to superiority. At the same time, by never pretending to be other than a woman and a maid, she was not only usurping a man's function but shaking off the trammels of his sex altogether to occupy a different, third order, neither male nor female, but unearthly, like the angels...
Page 56 - It is. on the one hand. a topic of learning. discovery. practice: on the other. it is the site of dreams. images. fantasies. myths. obsessions and requirements. It is a static system of 'synchronic essentialism'. a knowledge of 'signifiers of stability' such as the lexicographic and the encyclopaedic. However. this site is continually under threat from diachronic forms of history and narrative. signs of instability. And. finally. this line of thinking is given a shape analogical to the dreamwork....
Page 48 - The absent voice reemerges in gestures and the contortions of the face — it is spread over the body of the actor. The uncanny effect of the silent film in the era of sound is in part linked to the separation, by means of intertitles, of an actor's speech from the image of his/her body.
Page 119 - History is natural selection. Mutant versions of the past struggle for dominance; new species of fact arise, and old, saurian truths go to the wall, blindfolded and smoking last cigarettes. Only the mutations of the strong survive. The weak, the anonymous, the defeated leave few marks.
Page 56 - It is, on the one hand, a topic of learning, discovery, practice; on the other, it is the site of dreams, images, fantasies, myths, obsessions and requirements.
Page 53 - Foucault found an acknowledgement of "a new and substantial relationship of painting to itself, as a manifestation of the existence of museums and the particular reality and interdependence that paintings acquire in museums."8 What began to make modern art so "demanding...
Page 23 - Thomas Elsaesser, for instance, neatly summarises what can be regarded as the basic characteristics of the contemporary Hollywood blockbuster: What characterises a blockbuster? First, a big subject and a big budget (world war, disaster, end of the planet, monster from the deep, holocaust, death battle in the galaxy). Second, a young male hero, usually with lots of firepower, or secret knowledge, or an impossibly difficult mission. The big movie is necessarily based on traditional stories, sometimes...

About the author (2006)

Anat Zanger is associate professor in the Film and Television Department at Tel Aviv University.

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