Bedazzled remake vs original podcast script Presentation: Difference between British and American film industries. Presenter: The British and American film industries are worlds apart. The American film industry is the most profitable film industry in the world whereas the British film industry is nowhere near as economically powerful. This means that for anyone in the film industry to have a successful career and make good money they have to go to America. This same model applies to films. If films want to be successful economically they have to be produced or distributed by Americans. The reason for this is because Americans have the advantage of having bigger budgets at their disposal that we just don’t have in the UK. The big six conglomerates that own a majority of the big American film companies operate on the model of horizontal integration which means they often own advertising companies and other media outlets that allow them to push their product, such as TV channels. So a film made by a subsidiary of an American conglomerate will get more exposure than a British film not in this corporation, set up and this means more people see the film so it’s more profitable. Therefore the American and British film industries have very different ways of making films. I will explore those differences through the American attempt to remake a British film. The film I’m selecting is ‘Bedazzled’ a 1967 Peter Cook and Dudley Moore film and the 2001 American remake starring Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Frasier. The central story of ‘Bedazzled’ is that the protagonist is not content with his current lifestyle of being lonely in a low paid miserable job that he hates. He is then visited by the Devil who offers him seven wishes for his soul. The protagonist makes the deal and uses his wishes to try to win the affections of the love interest, in the movie, which also turns out not to make him happy. Presentation: How the films are similar Presenter: Often a big difference between British and American films is the fact that American films have wider distribution than the British original which means they are seen by more people so therefore make more money. Both of these films were made by the American film company 21st centaury fox, so the original and the remake received a wide distribution. They were both marketed in a similar way as you can see by the poster [insert posters]. Both films also star current sex symbols of the day, clearly using the persuasive strategy of sex appeal to target a male audience. Raquel Welsh only had five scenes in the original British film and she was only speaking in two of those scenes but her inclusion was a huge audience draw. However one big difference between these two films is the content. American films generally tend to make a conscious effort to attract audiences through well-known set pieces that guarantee commercial success. For example Americans like to use big special effects and high production values. However British films can’t afford to use these same special effects as our film industry is not structured via conglomerates and so our films tend to be more story driven and focus on script a cheaper means of audience attraction. Projector: Narrative Presenter: Both films express their narratives themes very differently, but have very similar narrative structures. Both films employ single strand linear narratives as the entire story is only told from one person’s point of view and there is a clear
beginning, middle and end that feature concurrently without jumping back and fourth via devices like flashbacks. Both films then employ the classical Hollywood narrative, as both the original and remake start with scenes establishing the protagonist as a lonely individual pining for the love of the love interest which is the status quo which the devil uses to persuade the protagonist to make a deal with the devil. The devil gives him seven wishes which is the start of the quest, then the fact the wishes don’t make him happy and became problematic is the problem that delays the resolution. Furthermore both of the films have closed narratives with resolutions that establish a new status quo. However, the main difference in the narratives that massively separates both films is the resolution. The U.S. Hollywood remake features a typical happy ending of Elliot meeting his neighbour Nicole who looks very similar and has very similar interests to his love interest Alison. They then walk off down the road together presumably to start a relationship while the devil plays chess with Elliot’s ex cellmate. The original British film’s resolution is in fact much more cynical and far less happy, as the devil gives Stanley his soul back only to find out that this good deed did not guarantee his place back in heaven. Stanley asks Margret the love interest out, but she says she’s busy and the devil tells god he’ll unleash more havoc on the world, ending with the devil saying the memorable line to god ‘you’re unbelievable’. Presentation: Content Differences. Presenter: The original 1967 ‘Bedazzled’ was made by 21st Century Fox at a time when the film industry wasn’t as profitable as it had been previously in the studio era, or would be in the age of conglomerates. 21 st Century Fox had just spent $44 million on making the 1963 film ‘Cleopatra’, which was the only annual highest grossing film to still make a loss. So Fox didn’t have a lot of money to spend on this film ‘Bedazzled’, which meant that the film had to be mostly financed by the director Stanley Donen, which resulted in having a low budget of $770,000 which was less than Elizabeth Taylor’s fee for ‘Cleopatra’. As a result this film was forced to rely more on script than production quality and special effects. This resulted in this film containing a lot of social commentary such as views on the evils of advertising, as the devil says in one scene that it’s his latest invention, this film as a result had sophisticated and witty dialogue that the U.S. remake just didn’t contain. Instead the U.S. remake opts to use special effects, sex appeal and star power of actress Elizabeth Hurley who was very popular at the time because they had the money to do so. You can see both the social commentary and the quick witty dialogue from the UK original in these clips which feature a scene where the devil is still trying to convince Stanley Moon that he is the devil. In the preceeding scene Stanley asks for an ice lolly which the devil gives him, however in the process of transporting Stanley to the road his lair is on while the devil melted his ice lolly, to which Stanley responds dismayed ‘here, my ice lolly’s melted. You really must be the devil’, to which the devil responds, ‘incarnate how do you do’. The use of social commentary is clear in this next sequence where Stanley and the devil are in the devil’s evil lair and Stanley reads the contract the devil asks him to sign for rights to his soul, while the devil smashes up bananas with a hammer and puts them on a conveyer belt. Damaged fruit are an everyday inconvience that this film suggests is the work of the devil. This scene also features the aforementioned wit as you can see when Stanley agrees the contract the devil states that he now needs someone to get it witnessed and say’s ‘sloth will be best’, he’s a lawyer, as in the film, all the
devil’s employees are the seven deadly sins, which also allows for more wit and intellectual material that the U.S. Hollywood remake doesn’t contain. [Play clip from original] However the remake deals with this same scene completely differently due to its bigger budget. The U.S. Hollywood Bedazzled doesn’t have to bother with creating witty dialogue and can just use the star power of the actors employed and special effects for spectacle. As you can see by the relatively meaningless dialogue in this scene which also deals with the protagonist finding out the person posing to be the devil, really is the devil. In this scene the devil just simply turns from her attractive female appearance in a skimpy red dress into the physical appearance of the typical depiction of the devil with red skin wearing a suit and holding a point red fork using special effects such as the appearance of bursting flames to transition between these two appearances, to which the protagonist Elliot responds ‘ah it’s true, you really are the devil’. There is no wit to these lines; they are just simply there to advance the narrative. The special effects could be seen to even be unnecessary just feature because their large budget allows them too. [Play clip of remake.] Presentation: Difference in Intentions Presenter: Another difference between the British original and the American remake that American films are often made to turn a profit and therefore appeal to a large mainstream target audience and feature as much of a mass appeal as possible. Whereas British films are less likely to be promoted, or distributed as much as American films and therefore less likely to attract as big of an audience, so they are often made with less optimism in terms of the outcome as this is a reasonable way of dealing with a small budget. Realism and grit, which is what the UK Film industry is famous for because the films are cheap. They also use TV stars such as Peter Cook and Dudley Moore rather than Hollywood global stars like Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley. In this case from a popular stage and TV show with comedian’s Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. However it could also apply to the Beatles with ‘Yellow Submarine’ or even more recently to TV sketch comedians Mitchell and Webb’s 2007 film ‘Magicians’. The Hollywood remake of ‘Bedazzled’ was made in 2001 when 21st century Fox was owned by multi millionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch. It was produced by Regency Enterprises, a film studio with several big commercial successful hits to its name, which include ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ and ‘Free Willy’. So this resulted in this film getting the budget of $48 million. This film however was under more pressure to turn a profit than the original. They therefore got experienced comedy director/writer Harold Ramis to direct this and recruited stars Brendan Frasier hot off his success in ‘The Mummy’ and sex symbol Elizabeth Hurley still hot from her starring role in ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’, as they knew it would be popular with audiences. The British original on the other hand starred Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, two stars that weren’t that big in the American mainstream at the time so much so that it was called ‘Stanley Donen’s Bedazzled’ for its American release. This meant Cook and Moore got creative freedom and there was less pressure to turn a profit. The UK orignal was more a labour of love, which they knew wouldn’t find mainstream success as it contained a lot of material that was very critical of religion. For example at one point the devil points at a vicar and says ‘he’s one of ours’. This film would have never been a hit with mass
audiences in the 1960s especially in the two main markets Britain and America, whose main religion was Christianity. The remake on the other hand created in Hollywood, contained no anti religious material and provided no comment on society. It used the classic set pieces such as a happy ending and a romantically orientated storyline, which has clearly proven successful with mainstream audiences. The remake was clearly aimed at mainstream, 16-30, E to C1 class, predominately female American audiences through their emphasis on the romance of the story of Elliot and Alison and the casting of sex symbol Brendan Fraser playing the nice guy that women are likely to find desirable. They still appealed to a male audience also, therefore giving the film more mass appeal by featuring sex symbol Elizabeth Hurley in several costume changes, often involving her wearing skimpy costumes that seem to come out of the audience’s erotic fantasies, such as when she wears a teacher’s outfit, or a policeman’s uniform. Whereas if the British version did indeed have a specific target audience it would be 30-40, male, reformers of class B to A, based on the inclusion of satire and social commentary which is a more niche audience. You can see this through the casting of stage actors, relatively unknown to the mainstream at the time, such as Barry Humphries and their emphasis on social injustice and the human inner conflict of Stanley Moon not knowing what he wants. The difference in the intentions is clear to see from how both films deal with their endings. As the U.S. remake features the happy ending of Elliot and Nicole walking off happily together in a wide shot while their baggage is listed through an on screen graphic and the devil plays chess with Elliot’s cellmate who is revealed to be god, who informs Elliot his soul belongs to god. In the remake the devil simply gives the protagonist back his soul for doing a good deed and the protagonist and the devil become good friends. Whereas in the UK original the devil only gives him back his soul to make himself feel good and tries to con it off Stanley again after god rejects him from heaven due to this self gratification. The protagonist Stanley then gets rejected by his love interest but doesn’t get a new love interest like to replace her. The original’s closing scene instead of featuring a happy ending features a low angle tracking shot of the jaded devil looking up at heaven, addressing god, and promising to continue to make the world a worse place out of revenge, ending on the line ‘you’re unbelievable’. The U.S. remake instead ends with a set piece happy ending made with the intention of appealing to their target audience who expect and want to see the best for characters they’ve invested in. While the UK original features a witty twist, satirical ending that the writers Peter Cook and Dudley Moore made to amuse themselves, hoping that audience’s who liked their previous work like this film on the basis of that work, but not going for a mass audience by featuring the lines ‘you’re unbelievable’ to god which could be potentially offensive to Christians. [play clip of 1967 bedazzled ending] [play clip of 2001 bedazzled ending.] Presentation: Profits Presenter: As a result the original UK film didn’t make as much money as the U.S. remake. The UK original only grossed a total of $1,500,000 and the Hollywood remake grossed a total of $90,383,208. Presentation: Critical Acclaim Presenter: However, as is often the case the UK. original got more critical acclaim because it focused on story and social commentary Film four said
‘Cook's second feature with Dudley Moore, still stands as the finest realisation of the pair's partnership: if not their 'Sgt Pepper'. While Film critic.com said ‘Bedazzled, a goofy, good-natured comedy based on the Faust legend, is probably Cook's/Moore's most finished product’ and BBC films said ‘The humour is frequently so surreal it takes you completely by surprise, but it also bears a sharply satirical criticism of modern life.’ Presentation: Critical Response. Presenter: Whereas the Hollywood remake’s critical response was far less positive with Film 4 saying ‘Sadly, something somewhere along the line has gone horribly wrong’ Film critic.com saying ‘The movie is so limp it is all but forgotten on the ride home’ and BBC films saying ‘this take on the Faust-Mephistopheles legend turns from a sharp satire for intelligent adults into an obvious gag-fest aimed at a younger mainstream audience’. Presentation: Original Audience Response Presenter: The mood of the audience was on the a whole very positive towards the U.K. original, mostly for similar reasons to the critics, on story and content, ‘Possibly Peter Cook's greatest and yet most underrated piece of work’, while another response was ‘Quite possibly one of the funniest films ever made’ and ‘Peter Cook and Dudley Moore come up with a truly original and brilliant idea in what has become a true comedy classic and has been remade into a rash Hollywood blockbuster’. Presentation: Remake Audience Response Presenter: As the previous comment however suggests audience responses to the Hollywood remake were very critical. Although some people enjoyed the remake and thought that it was better than the original, ‘This is a real classic and superior to it original’ most said that it was surprisingly good, rather than better than the UK original ‘I kept the tape of this film for months because I wanted to see the original first. Now that I've seen both, I have to say that the new version is a lot better than I expected’ And there were a lot of negative responses 'If it ain't broke... don't fix it'. Watch the original...and don't even bother with this’ and ‘This is an appaling waste of money, time, and electricity, and it appears to be the work of Mr G.Spiggot himself’. Presentation: Durability Presenter: When the original ‘Bedazzled’ was released on DVD on the 25 July 2005 it was open to a whole new modern audience. A large proportion of the comments from people who had bought the DVD said that the issues discussed are still relevant today. However, a lot of the audience responses to the UK original ‘Bedazzled’ were saying that it’s a very forgettable film. And this can be seen by the fact that the US remakes weekend gross got lower and lower as the weeks went on. The weekend gross decreased by -31.4% just one week after it’s release even though it was screened in 11 more theatres that week. Presentation: Stanley Donen’s Britain Presenter: Another problem between the British and America film industries is that American audiences want to see Britain portrayed in a particular way which is
actually a stereotypical old fashioned view of Britain where everyone speaks in posh accents and all live in nice houses in the country side. The cast is often all white and middle class too, it’s rare in a British and American co production that you get a true representation of multi cultural Britain made up of all different classes. So for British films to be successful to a mass audience they have to submit to this portrayal. The UK original ‘Bedazzled’ was directed by an American, Stanley Donen famous for directing very colourful high production films like ‘Singing in the Rain’ and you can see how American’s perceive Britain from how this American director portrayed Britain. [Play clip.] You can see the typical British iconography of red buses and big red post boxes in this clip. Although this film still suffered in America because it was written by two English men who criticized British life and the typical old fashioned upper class establishment that the Americans love, as you can see in this nuclear related discussion. [Play clip.] Presentation: Conclusion. Presenter: In conclusion the UK original ‘Bedazzled’ had a lower budget and so therefore focused more on script and provided a critical view of the stereotypically perceived Britain and provided a critical view of religion. Whereas the big budget American remake had high production values utilizing special effects and subsequently paid less attention to the script and ignored social commentary in order not to offend middle American audiences. This is often what happens when Americans remake British films.