Amsterdam’s new film museum, EYE attracts visitors for its modern and spaceship-like architecture as well as for its extensive collection dedicated to the visual arts. Yet film lovers will have another reason to visit Amsterdam’s main over-the-water attraction in view of its latest and rather distinctive exhibition, which will be on display from March 23th to June 1st.
“Cinema Remake” is an ode to experimentation in film and the mutability of cinematic language. The ten artists and filmmakers invited to expose their work challenge the original versions of box office hits and trendsetters. Hence some questions emerge: how to create something radically new from an existing work? And how to transmit a new message and attach a new meaning to it? It is a task handled finely by the artists of this singular exhibition.
Remakes have been made since the beginning of cinema’s history. The first one ever made dusted off the 1925 version of the film Phantom of the Opera. Since then, Hollywood has been using this tool as a way of lowering their risks of losing money. From time to time new remakes are thrown on the market to keep classics fresh, theatres full and money coming in.
This exhibition, however, casts light on the act of remaking as an artistic expression, rather than an essentially commercial one. It shows how color, film stills, storyline and narration can be combined in unusual and unexpected ways. It challenges the limits of creating a tangible film or picture.
The Canadian/Malaysian Chris Chong Chan Fui together with Japanese Yasuhiro Morinaga make an impressive remake of the black and white film “High and Low”, by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. The 3 screen arrangement in the dark room makes you feel like the 4th piece of an opened box, where you penetrate the world of intimidating Japanese teenagers. In response, they stare at you with somewhat unwelcoming faces.
Engaging and cutting-edge works can also be found in the other 7 remaining rooms, such as “Stardust”, remade by Flemish artist Nicolas Provost. The twist of self-filmed images and sound from famous films create a Hollywood-type cinematic language. By filming everyday scenes in Las Vegas with a touch of crime and suspense genres, Provost’s turns reality into fiction.
Complementary to the exhibition, EYE will also be showing successful remakes of well known films throughout the next two months. Included in the schedule are King Kong (both Peter Jackson’s, released in 2005, and Merian C. Cooper’s, released in 1993), The Trial, by Orson Welles and A Fistful Dollars, by Sergio Leone, also known for having introduced the Spaghetti Western in the mid-1960s.
What is the most fascinating thing about remakes? “As history progress, we can rewrite history”, says Slater Bradley, one of the artists featured on the exhibition. Before leaving, you might as well have a wander at the collection and enjoy one of the city’s most stunning views of the IJ harbour at the museum’s café.
Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York