Thursday, 31 March 2011

I'm still fairly sure this is an elaborate April Fool's joke

Credit: Karon Liu

I never trust a trending topic on Twitter, particularly when the first day of April is just a few days away. Indeed, on this very occasion when I was browsing the micro-blogging site, a topic was trending that claimed Jackie Chan was dead. He wasn't.

Just underneath this falsification rested Jennifer Garner's name. Apparently she had been cast as Agatha Christie's pensionable sleuth Miss Marple in a Disney reboot of the series. Pull the other one, I thought.

But here I am, two days later, blogging about this very topic because the story seems to have been picked up by every news agency going and we are facing the very real possibility of a 38-year old American playing Miss Marple. If this is actually an April Fool's joke, it's right up there with the BBC's spaghetti crops.

As someone who has never claimed to be a fan of Miss Marple or even Agatha Christie, I am not one of those people who is at the point of rioting over this news. Any Hollywood re-imagining of something so quintessentially quaint and British was never going to be a good idea. Even a sensible casting decision, Judi Dench for instance, would not convince me that this was going to be a great film. I'm more concerned with what this says about the way Hollywood is interpreting its audience.

The simple truth is that a film centred on an elderly spinster will not shift tickets, no matter how good it is. There have been plenty of successful films featuring older characters, yes, but they have relied on word of mouth and attracting a certain type of cinema goer to be successful. But the industry only really wants the attention of one demographic: the 18-30 year old.

When it comes to mining the classics for their rich reserves of characters and plot, we've seen producers stray from the original many times before. More often than not, this is to bring them "up to date" and make them palatable for a modern audience. Hence, Sherlock Holmes becomes a younger, all-action hero and Othello takes place at an American high school.

Some of these re-imaginings work better than others, but when they do work it is because they have stayed true to the heart and soul of the original piece of literature and framed it in a way that the 18-30 audience can relate to. Think 10 Things I Hate About You putting a modern twist on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. When it doesn't work, the point of the story is missed completely and a character is simply mined to make the film more marketable. I know a lot of people enjoyed Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes but the BBC's Sherlock proved you can bring the character up to date without completely changing him.


Sadly, Miss Marple is in the latter category. A completely original detective story starring Jennifer Garner just wouldn't sell, but by attaching the name of a famous literary character, regardless of how unrecognisable they are from the original, you might make some money.

Perhaps we could remake the Famous Five as a group of sexy college students who solve mysteries with their sassy talking dog, Timmy (not to be confused with Scooby Doo). Justin Bieber could star as Oliver Twist, an orphaned street urchin who becomes an international music sensation.

As someone who is in the 18-30 demographic, I like to think that Hollywood woefully underestimates us. That, if they treated us like adults and gave us some straight-up, faithful adaptations we'd flock to see it. That is what my heart says.

My head says we're getting what we deserve.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget
There was an error in this gadget