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Film Remakes as Ritual and Disguise

Film Remakes as Ritual and Disguise: From Carmen to Ripley

Anat Zanger
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Film Remakes as Ritual and Disguise
    Book Description:

    The first book-length account of the symbolic chains that link remakes and explain their disguises, Film Remakes as Rituals 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 III film 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 theatres 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, Zanger offers an insightful addition to current debates in film theory and cinema history. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0970-6
    Subjects: Film Studies, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 7-8)
    Anat Zanger
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 9-12)

    Cinema as a social institution knows what Scheherazade seems to have known all along: to narrate is to triumph over death. Hence, in an ongoing ceremony that occurs in the darkness of the movie theater (and lasts, ultimately, more than 1001 nights), society constantly delivers its encoded messages. The constant repetition of the same tale keeps it alive in social memory, continually transmitting its meaning and relevance. It is in this context that I suggest that the presence of repetitive chains of remakes can be identified as “hidden streams” (Bazin’s term, 1955) in the imaginary archive of the cinema.


  5. Chapter 1 Psycho: Inside and Outside the Frame
    (pp. 13-26)

    The cinematic medium, by virtue of its technology, encapsulates 24 versions of potential movement per second. Within the same shot, each frame is an earlier version of the frame about to be seen. Seriality is constitutive in the very material of the cinema, i.e., its film strip. The cinema’s “self-differing” elements might be identified as its specificity (Krauss, 2000: 44) but its differences are countered in favor of continuity during the screening process (Bellour, 1979; Baudry, 1985[1970]; Usai, 2001).¹ A parallel process of difference, repetition and denial also exists in the cinema’s imaginary archive. This imaginary archive exists in the...

  6. Part One First Variation:: Carmen

    • Chapter 2 The Game Begins
      (pp. 29-42)

      In Carmen Jones (1954) Otto Preminger transferred the plot of Georges Bizet’s operaCarmenfrom Spain to the United States of the 1950s, while Oscar Hammerstein adapted the music. Joe, a young black army officer replaces Don José, Cindy-Lou is Micaëla, Haskey, the boxer, replaces the toreador, and the boxingring replaces thecorrida. Carmen Jones, who works in an army canteen, is none other than the Carmen of Prosper Mérimée and Bizet.¹ Another variation, Jean- Luc Godard’s Prénom Carmen (1983), revolves around a Carmen who robs a bank in order to finance a film production for her uncle, Jean, a...

    • Chapter 3 Muted Voices
      (pp. 43-54)

      Robert Townsend’s MTVCarmen: A Hip Hopera(2001), can be used here as an example of palimpsestic writing, in which Townsend has transformed the highbrow operatic music and libretto into an updated, hip-hop musical production.¹ In one of the more significant sequences in this version – the seduction scene – Beyoncé Knowles, as Carmen, sings to Hill the policeman (= Don José). Along with the hip-hop beat, familiar musical phrases are repeated several times. Interposed in the musical score and woven into the new version, they function as familiar signposts of an impending tragedy. These phrases, and especially a few...

    • Chapter 4 Masks
      (pp. 55-66)

      “She was lying, señor, as she always lied. I wonder whether that girl ever spoke one word of truth in her life” (Mérimée, 1963 [1845: 24]). With these words, Antonio (Antonio Gades in Carlos Saura’s film Carmen [1983]) presents Carmen – one of the most famous Romani figures in the world – to his dance troupe. He is not only quoting Don José’s words from Mérimée, he is also creating an analogy between the old story and the new one. In this version Carmen is a dancer in the troupe who is playing the lead in the show while he...

  7. Part Two Second Variation:: Joan

    • Chapter 5 The Game Again
      (pp. 69-84)

      Joan of Arc was born in Domrémy in 1412 and was burned at the stake at Rouen at the age of nineteen, after only one year of public activity. Despite having been in the public eye for such a short period, Joan has excited the collective imagination for more than 500 years. The myth of Joan of Arc, or its “intellectual object” (Foucault, 1972 [1969]), has been engraved in the collective memory and is represented in encyclopedic sources, history books and biographies, and in other cultural texts and artifacts such as poems, sculptures, plays, tapestries, children’s literature and even comics....

    • Chapter 6 Hearing Voices
      (pp. 85-100)

      The more than forty cinematic representations of the story of Joan of Arc created during the last century offer us the possibility of examining the twists and turns of the “same” historical biography over an extended period of time. It would appear that Joan’s life is a well-defined object, around which the cinema has created its own choreography of changing reflections. But, in fact, the story itself already contains the tension between events and their representation. Joan, in her various testimonies, and others, at her rehabilitation trial, were – like historical cinema itself – recounting a reality no longer in...

    • Chapter 7 Disguises
      (pp. 101-116)

      I would like to begin this chapter with a dialogue:

      “Thou hast played boy to every Bulgar in London. Why, even worn men’s clothes to please their lust.” He stares at her.” Answer yea or nay.”

      “I have worn men’s clothes, sir.”

      “For which thou shalt roast in hell.”

      “I shan’t be alone, sir.”

      “Did God command you to put on men’s clothing?”

      “My clothing is a small matter, one of the least. But I did not put on men’s clothing by the counsel of any man on earth. I did not put on this clothing, nor do anything else,...

  8. Conclusion

    • Chapter 8 Repetitions as Hidden Streams
      (pp. 119-130)

      The various stories, myths and icons we have examined here have been inscribed in a number of chains of repetition. Some of them are interchangeable, like those of Marion and Susanna, Olympia and Carmen, or Joan of Arc, Beth, Ripley, Rebecca and Ann-Lee. The many versions that constitute these chains are characterized by their palimpsestic relationships both with their source or sources, and among themselves. Furthermore, the long tradition of these chains, which sometimes, as in the case of Joan of Arc, have roots in the Middle Ages, has endowed them with the status of a myth. The train of...

  9. References
    (pp. 131-146)
  10. Filmography
    (pp. 147-150)
  11. Credits
    (pp. 151-152)
  12. Index
    (pp. 153-158)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 159-160)
  14. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)