The creeping melancholy of belated sequels

By Ryan Lambie

For the most part, we go to see mainstream movies to forget about the outside world. In the cinema realm, mundane horrors such as aging and chronic illness seldom apply. But belated sequels allow the door back into the real world to open just a little, and the results are often as perplexing as they are entertaining.

When we watch Die Hard or Raiders Of The Lost Ark, we can still experience the movie pretty much as we did the first time we saw it. We may have grown older and more jaded, but watching those movies again fills us with the same youthful cheer we may have felt all those years before – even if we do occasionally dryly note the voluminous hairstyles in Die Hard, or the suspect make-up on the actors in Raiders who clearly aren’t Nepalese.

But when we watch belated sequels, we’re seeing them with older eyes. Even if we approach them with the rose-tinted goggles of nostalgia, we can’t avoid the reality that things have moved on in the intervening decades. And this, perhaps, is the real problem with belated sequels – not the effects time has on the actors, but the people watching them.

When we watch a belated sequel, we’re reminded not only of how much Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis have changed, but how much we’ve changed, too.

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(images from Empire)


Steven Spielberg: …Close Encounters, which was a film I had written and a film nobody seemed to want to make, everybody seemed to want it right after Jaws was a hit. So, the first thing Jaws did for me was it allowed a studio, namely Columbia, to greenlight Close Encounters. For number two, it gave me final cut for the rest of my career. But what I really owe to Jaws was creating in me a great deal of humility, about tempering my imagination with just sort of the facts of life.

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Steven Spielberg: …Close Encounters, which was a film I had written and a film nobody seemed to want to make, everybody seemed to want it right after Jaws was a hit. So, the first thing Jaws did for me was it allowed a studio, namely Columbia, to greenlight Close Encounters. For number two, it gave me final cut for the rest of my career. But what I really owe to Jaws was creating in me a great deal of humility, about tempering my imagination with just sort of the facts of life.

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Raiders Story Conference Transcript

Tape 3, Side B:

George Lucas — The only problem with the water is it’s going to be hard to do, and it’s going to be hard to rationalize it. We can’t. We can call it the temple of life and establish that it has a lot of water in it. But, at the same time, it’s like the sand. Plus it’s such a classic thing.

Steven Spielberg — What about snakes? All these snakes come out.

G — People hate snakes. Possibly when he gets down there in the first place.

Lawrence Kasdan — Asps? They’re too small.

S — It’s like hundreds of thousands of snakes.

G — When he first jumps down in the hole, it’s a giant snake pit. It’s going to detract from the… This is interesting. It is going to detract from the discovery of the Ark, but that’s all right. We can’t make a big deal out of the Ark. He opens the thing, and he starts to jump down, and it’s full of snakes, thousands of them. He looks down there and sees them. What if they scurry out of the light. Then when he says they’re afraid of light, they throw down torches. You have a whole bunch of torches that keep the snakes back. Then he gets the thing, and they take it out. And the guy says, “Now you will die my friend.” Clunk. At the clunk three of the remaining four torches go out. So he only has one more torch, and the snakes start coming in. He sits there with one torch, knowing that when the torch goes out… It’s the idea of being in a room, in a black room with a lot of snakes. That will really be scary.

S — The snakes are waiting, looking at him. Thousands. And the torches are burning down. He’s trying to keep it going. The torch goes out. The whole screen goes black. The sound of the snakes gets more intense. You hear him backing up. The camera pans and suddenly you see, it’s black, but there’s light coming from several cracks. It’s not completely black. That leads him to an opening. To a rock that isn’t so flush against the other rocks. He knows there’s access. He keeps pushing on it, he gets a little more room.

L — What are the snakes doing?

S — The snakes are coming at him, but the darkness gives him his way out. The clue of the way to go.

G — If he was there with one torch, he’d see that. It’s pretty dark. I like the idea of, he’s got the last torch, or maybe the last two torches, depending on how long we want to play this out. Say there’s thirty-five torches. This will be a nice scene when we go to get the Ark and there’s like a landing strip of torches. It’s getting very smokey in there. They close the door and almost all of them go out, except for maybe five or six. It’s the only thing that’s keeping him from the snakes. He looks around and tries to figure a way out. He sort of sees that there-is this door that’s locked. Maybe he takes one of the torches and moves over toward this door and bangs on it, can’t get it open. There is a big column. What if he takes… During this whole thing torches keep going out every minute or so. Now he only has two torches, so you know he’s really getting desperate. He works his way over to this column and he shimmies up. As he goes up, he drops one of the torches, and it bounces down. He only has one left. The snakes are sort of winding their way up the column. Suddenly a bat comes flying out. He drops a torch, or he takes the torch and sort of pushes it behind the column, and snakes slither out. He starts pushing between the wall and the column. Finally the torch goes out, it’s just a glow around his face. He’s sweating and straining. Shots of snakes slithering toward him. He finally pushes it and the column goes crashing down. We could have a couple of cracks from above. Obviously it’s very thick. The column knocks out a portion of the wall next to the door. It would be great if he were left hanging there. It breaks open the door.

S — Now he has to get over to the door.

G — I think we’re going to have to leave him with one torch. I don’t want to get into a big long thing. He’s up there, he has one torch left, he dropped the other one, he’s holding it in his teeth and it begins to go out. There are little shafts of light coming through, so it’s not pitch black. He knocks the column over. It goes crashing down, knocks open a door in the far side of the temple. He’s left hanging up there, about to fall onto the thing of snakes. Maybe one snake slithers across his hand. He pulls himself up on the ridge, or he drops down to another ledge. He gets into a position away from the snakes. He stands there and lights his torch again. He has matches. He didn’t do it before because he was in the middle of pushing the column. He gets the torch going again and he starts walking through the temple with the torch. We have to have a torch.

S — I think it should end quickly the minute the column falls and breaks down the door. I think he should ride the column down and get out right away. That’s the end of the scene.

L — He has to ride it as it falls.

G — He goes down with the column, does a tumble and runs out. The trouble is, you’re going to have him going through those temples without any light.

S — The column falls down, breaks through a wall, and light comes pouring in. It’s like salvation.

L — I don’t think there should be a door down there. He sees that it’s weaker there.

G — Let’s just make it a wall. Since he’s an archeologist, he would know how it… (garbled). If it’s that dark, you don’t need that many snakes. You’re using shafts of light, so you can just see the snakes on the edge of the light.

S — The way to do it is like “Squirm.” It has more worms than you can imagine. Snakes are ugly when they’re all piled up with each other.

L — I wonder what their reaction to light is.

G — You can get a snake charmer or something. I don’t know how you’ll do that. All you need is a lot of snakes in a very small spot, so it looks like there are a lot of snakes everywhere. You can also do a lot with sound, and close shots of snakes slithering across hands.

S — What’s real scary to me is when that rock comes down to seal the temple. The air pressure blows half the torches out. That place is air tight. A visual effect and a sound effect.

G — We shouldn’t have any snakes in the opening sequence, just tarantulas. Save the snakes for now.

S — It would be funny if, somewhere early in the movie he somehow implied that he was not afraid of snakes. Later you realize that that is one of his big fears.

G — Maybe it’s better if you see early, maybe in the beginning that he’s afraid, “Oh God, I hate those snakes.” It should be slightly amusing that he hates snakes, and then he opens this up, "I can’t go down in there. Why did there have to be snakes. Anything but snakes." You can play it for comedy. The one thing that could happen is that he gets trapped with all these snakes.

Short Film Of The Day: Not Where You Saw

Director: John Ramsey & Richard Ramsey
Stars: John Ramsey & Richard Ramsey

Synopsis:
One day, the Ramsey Brothers got together to watch old home movies and deliver some incredibly insightful DVD featurette-style commentary. The result is nostalgia relived as art and as comedy. What’s the symbolism of the lifted shirt? Can we consider the camera a truthful narrator? In their own words, Not Where You Saw “tells the riveting tale of one brother’s courageous stand for justice.”

Or it’s brothers fighting with each other on a basketball court while their [mother] tapes it… Or it’s both. Either way, it’s inspired.

Director: U.S. films losing voice

…Kazakhstan-born director Timur Bekmambetov said he fears American movies “are losing their voice.”
"The American film industry isn’t American anymore — it’s global," said the "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" director, who was in Las Vegas this week to accept CinemaCon’s International Filmmaker of the Year award. "Nobody makes movies for American audiences anymore. To be understandable everywhere, you have to deal with basic ideas — very relatable for everybody."
…The filmmaker said that in Russia, at least, he has witnessed the significant impact Hollywood films have had on local audiences.
"Hollywood films destroyed the Soviet Union in the ’80s," he said. "The whole revolution — perestroika — happened because of American movies, I feel. When the first VHS players appeared, everyone had one in their house and could copy and distribute movies. People thought, ‘Oh my God, there is a great life somewhere else.’”

(image)

Director: U.S. films losing voice

…Kazakhstan-born director Timur Bekmambetov said he fears American movies “are losing their voice.”

"The American film industry isn’t American anymore — it’s global," said the "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" director, who was in Las Vegas this week to accept CinemaCon’s International Filmmaker of the Year award. "Nobody makes movies for American audiences anymore. To be understandable everywhere, you have to deal with basic ideas — very relatable for everybody."

…The filmmaker said that in Russia, at least, he has witnessed the significant impact Hollywood films have had on local audiences.

"Hollywood films destroyed the Soviet Union in the ’80s," he said. "The whole revolution — perestroika — happened because of American movies, I feel. When the first VHS players appeared, everyone had one in their house and could copy and distribute movies. People thought, ‘Oh my God, there is a great life somewhere else.’”

(image)