Was the way we used to make films better? Are we slowly diverging into a worse way of making films, or simply losing out on the classics due to a new wave of filmmakers? Let's dig a little deeper together, and see why this question might hold some genuine value.
Let’s talk about technique first. Something that should be considered is that film is about mastering techniques and excelling with minute details. Basically, you’re constantly trying to perfect something that you once thought was already perfect. The old ways are gone and the new ways are in. Now the old ways were focused on just as valuable techniques we use today, but we’ve modernized them and mastered them. Here’s an example: we used to have heavy duty lighting equipment, and it would cause the actors to typically sweat. In between each take, the makeup artists would dash on stage and quickly dab off all the sweat before the next take but a Gaffer decided a great idea would be to condense the equipment we have into more portable, reliable smaller equipment with the same results.
What does that mean for the results of the film? If you were to use the old lights compared to the new ones, the difference would be time management. We are far more capable of creating dynamic, immersive worlds in horror because we have less time wasted managing all the small conflicts we would face on old styled sets. The technique was the same, but what we had perfected was time saved. This is a huge reflection on what directors could do back in the day. It was a massive indicator on how budgets were influenced.
Besides my rambling about technique, back to the main question -- were old films better? I believe the focus on stories was far more clever. We’ve fallen deep into the abyss of fancy equipment, CGI, and flashy results. Old school horror relied on recipes that never failed, but modern films aim to take more risks with the huge array of tools we have because we have the time to do it now.
Let’s look at The Grudge and its recent reboot. What went wrong? The focus on the story was lost and the recipe was scrambled. The original focused on building up this phenomenon that revealed supernatural causes that only worsened over time. The reboot tried to tell the same story with a different angle. They shifted the focus and had too many weak, uninteresting subplots. They also aimed to be more dynamic with their style of filming as well as interesting use of lighting. Does any of this matter in the end result of a good film? Not quite.
Let’s look at a non-horror example, the original Mad Max vs. Mad Max Fury Road. The reboot was astounding. It used the updated equipment and techniques to further refine what was already great. It also helps that it was directed by the same man who created the originals. But the focus again was on the story and spectacle.
So what is the end result here? We’ve lost focus on what matters. If you are a filmmaker, you should seek to be as creative as you want with your stories and how you tell them, but always remember, the people are paying for an entertaining and compelling story. Don’t forget it.
Do you have any points to discuss? Are there rebooted films of some originals that you think fell flat? Why do you think that is? Let's talk about it!