Both the original film Footloose (1984) directed by Herbert Ross and Craig Brewer’s remake (2011) form quite curious unity that is worth more profound examination and assessment. These two versions of one story line shows, however, how the artistic works can vary one from another. The choice of this pair of films by the author is based, on one hand, on the aesthetic attractiveness connected with the music genre and, on the other hand, on the important social and historical background of the films. Thus, this is the explanation of the author’s choice of this pair of films.
Meantime, music genre and social matters discussed in the films influence the spectator’s perception. First, such genre is supposed to be oriented on the mass culture and, accordingly, mass audience. Otherwise, social problems are the essential part of the necessary civic consciousness. Overall, Footloose and its remake are the powerful objects to make the large part of the spectators think over the social matters described in the films.
This paper consists of three main parts. The first one includes the short review of the main differences between two versions of the film. The second part contains the aesthetic characteristics of both pictures. Finally, the third section of the paper elucidates the social matters discussed in the films. In sum, the critical reading of Footloose and its remake considers to show and explain the main points that the author intend to pay attention on.
Main differences of the film and its remake
Comparing the original film and its modern counterpart, the spectator can easily distinguish the main differences between them. They concern to the cinematographic narrative means to strengthen or lessen some points of the story. There are many such distinct features but the author take into consideration only some of them that seem to be the most essential and significant.
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To begin with, there are some visually determined changes of the story. For example, when the 1984 version just tells about the teens’ crash on the bridge, the remake illustrates it with the frames. When the original film contains the stills of the burning books, the new film let it down. Thus, such scenes become more psychologically burdensome and turbulent.
Moreover, such pair as gender and sexuality becomes the ostentatious indicator of the society changes of different historical backgrounds of the films. More revealing and provocative clothing, especially the women one, characterizes the teens’ behaviour of the new millennium. For instance, Ariel’s graduation dress in the remake is almost the same as in the original film but it is short and, accordingly, more sexual than the counterpart in the 1984 version. Therefore, the relationship between the gender and sensuality strongly depends on the new perception of the body.
Consequently, there is only a little part of the wide range of differences between the two versions of the one story. Visually determined stills and the sexual attractiveness of the film characters make the main peculiarities of the remake. They illustrate both the historical and social changes and geographical specifications of the context of the renovated film version. In sum, the unity of them determines the spectator’s expectations.
Aesthetic features of both pictures
The original Footloose and its remake are characterized by some purely artistic features. Among them there are the actors’ performances, soundtracks, special and dramatic effects. They influence the aesthetic perception of the director’s attitudes towards the successful film narrative. Thus, performance by itself is intensified by the definite effects of the picture.
Actors’ performances. As for the Herbert Ross’ version, the actors’ performances prevail over the remake’s ones. The cast is more charismatic and professionally strong then in the new version. For instance, it is difficult to overestimate the role of Kevin Bacon in comparison with Kenny Wormald. Both actors are young and talented but the charisma and energy of the first one is much stronger then the second one’s. These key figures in the cast determine the sympathy towards the rest of the performers.
The other main roles are also determined by the specification of time of its context. Lori Singer as Ariel in the original film is more restrained then Julienne Hough in the remake but the first one plays in more organic and natural way then her follower. The modern spectator can argue on this account but his choice will be connected directly with the sexual appearance and behaviour of Julienne. Nonetheless, Lori Singer personifies the exceptional inner beauty, unusual art of transformation and high-quality professionalism.
As for the role of Ren’s friend Willard, Christopher Penn finds to be more funny and comic then Miles Teller, whose performance on the beginning of the film is a little bit clumsy and awkward. Nevertheless, both of them are the masters to illustrate the personal confusion in the dance art on the beginnings of the films but the transformative way of Christopher Penn and his character incomparably visible much better then Miles Teller’s one. Therefore, the author mentions the exceptional talent and artistic attractiveness of the actor of 1984 film.
The last more perceptible comparison of actors’ performances pertains to the role of Reverend Show Moore. While John Lithgow falls in his role naturally from the first frames with him, Dennis Quaid discords a little bit his character. The matter may be linked with the previous experience of the other actor’s performance. Nevertheless, both of the actors achieve the possibility to find their expression in their actions not only as the preachers but also as the fathers who try to be perfect for their families.
Such parallels of actors’ performances can be continued infinitely but the conclusion of this comparison let the author define the personal esthetical impression and sympathy towards one of the versions of Footloose. The advantage of Herbert Ross’ cast is evident and provable. The strong professionalism and high-quality art of transformation determine the winner among the original film and its remake.
Soundtracks. Another difference pertains to the music components of the films. The main distinctions lie in the ways of combination of the different tracks and adaptation of them to the single spirit of time and society. Some music is left to outlast the past and continue in the future, other music is changed according to the necessary conditions to live in.
The comparison of the soundtracks of both films elucidates that some of the original and additional music was used in the remake, other was let down or changed in it. First, both 1984 and 2011 version include such tracks as “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins in the old film and by Blake Shelton in the new one, “Dancing in the Sheets” by Shalamar in the original picture and changed “Dancing in Dee’s Sheets” by Rae, “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler and Ella Mae Bowen accordingly, “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams and, correspondingly, Jana Kramer, “Almost Paradise” by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson as Love Theme from Footloose and by Deborah Lurie and also Victoria Justice and Hunter Hayes as two separated soundtracks.
The remake passes over the following tracks as “The Girl Gets Around” by Sammy Hagar, “Never” by Moving Pictures, “Somebody’s Eyes” by Karla Bonoff, and quite popular original song “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man) by Kenny Loggins. It also uses other new tracks for the film connected with the modern times and geographical disposition of the fiction southern town Bomont, Georgia. As a result, the sound specification of both pictures differ them one from another.
As for the styles of the music for both films, it is easy to take notice that the original Footloose represents the rock and sometimes R’n’B music style. At the same time, the remake uses rap music side by side with the main rock style. The author pays attention that it can be connected with the black culture as the representatives of this ethnic group appears quite often while the original film excludes them.
Conclusively, the soundtracks of the films vary according to the definite historian and geographical features. They illustrate the interrelation between the music and its context. While the 1984 film includes the original soundtracks, specially written for the film, the 2011 version bases on the remixes of them, covers and so on. The result is the renewed version of the exclusive sounds adapted for the modern time and its society.
Visual effects. Other feature to be mentioned is the special effects that are included in the both films. While the earlier version deals with them in more influential and unexpected way, the modern one uses these means more often but they are not so sudden. The reason may be in the spectator’s awareness of the story line and not very distinct from it the remake’s variant.
First, the most powerful visual effects of both films pertain to actors’ performances and, especially, frames where Ren is dancing on the abandoned factory. The variety of such means is wonderful and specific. They relate to the character’s emotions and their way of self-representation. The difference between two films on this account concerns the abovementioned actors’ performances. Therefore, more exciting and turbulent visual effects of Ren’s dances are documented in the original film.
Nevertheless, more weak and less influential special effects determine Craig Brewer’s film, the director seems to compensate the lack of brilliant actors’ performance with them. The quantity and quality of visual means elucidates the different directors’ comprehensions of their influence on the spectator. When these effects strengthen the perfect actor’s performance, it makes the film more strong and powerful and nothing else can compete with the effectiveness of their role.
Dramatic effects. As for the dramatic effects, they are also more powerful and sudden in the 1984 version then in the remake. The scene where Ariel stands on the way of the train to shout before it is almost the same in the new version only with some minor differences but the emotional load of the first one is more mighty and impressive then in the second case. The explanation of this result is hidden in the directors’ approaches or even in the actors’ actions and feelings on the screen.
Another parallel can be conducted according to similar interpretation of the competition between Ren and Chuck. In both films the directors uses the transport means and some limitation of the space. While Herbert Ross illustrates the competitors on the tractors on the river bank, Craig Brewer shows the youth on the territory of lace-track driving the busses. Both competitions are psychologically involving but the dramatic effect of the original scene is more expressional and disturbing.
Therefore, the dramatic effects of the old film prevail over the counterparts from the modern remake. Nevertheless, Herbert Ross’ version possesses primacy in time, its influence and suddenness are more believable and persuasive. Unfortunately, the remake lacks some freshness in such expressive ways to deal with in order to conquer the spectator’s impression.
Overall, such features as the actors’ performances, soundtracks, the special and dramatic effects determine the preference of the aesthetic perception of the Herbert Ross’ version of Footloose. Nevertheless, the remake uses more of them but the spectator’s opinion appeals to less professional and successful acting of the cast. Consequently, the original film displays better director’s approach towards the visual illustration of almost the same story line.
Social problems discussed in the films
According to the abovementioned, both versions of the film possess quite various features that distinguish them one from another. But there are also so-called “points of touch” which connect the pictures. The social matters link the 1984 and 2011 films around the similar moral deviations like the drugs, alcoholic drinks, murder and bound with them rock music and dances.
First, the drugs addiction is shown as one of the problems that spoil the youth greatly. The frame that affirms this deviation describes Ren MacCormack and another boy who tries to obtrude his free proposal to taste the cigarette. The administrative person who noticed the wrong behaviour of the youth and the suspicious thing in their hands blames the new pupil in their school for dealing with the forbidden actions. Thus, the story of the films contains the drugs that are dangerous as for the individual and the whole society at all.
Moreover, the alcoholic drinks are also connected with the undesirable and prohibited actions for the pupils. The Reverend Shaw Moore who is also the minister of the city explains to his congregation that drinks and connected with them drugs and murder are those things which the youth must avoid in their lives. Such sermons are present as in the original film and in its remake and affirms the poisonous matters for the young people.
Thirdly, the murder is recognized as one of the worst sins in the society. But both directors describe such actions not only by the Reverend’s words but also with the frames. One of them that are shown both in the original film and its remake is the murder of Chuck over Ariel when the girl came to confess her ex-boyfriend about her relationship with Ren. Such stills appear some times and strengthen the ugliness of such human actions that are unaccepted in the society and prohibited in the Bible.
Finally, the films contain the explanation of the forbidden dances and rock music. Rev. Shaw Moore explains on the meeting before the citizens of the city that these things deal with the drugs, alcoholic drinks and murder and, therefore, result into the amorality among the society. The parallel is conditionally conducted with the crash of his son and other teens on the bridge. In sum, these social problems lead to the disobedience of the God’s words documented in the Bible.
Consequently, the deviations as drug and alcoholic drinks’ addiction and murder become apparent with artificially made prohibited dances and rock music. The administration of the city fights with these social problems in order to correspond with the subordination to religion. Therefore, these things are claimed as the sins and need to be controlled among the youth.
Overall, the examination of the new and old versions of the film Footloose allows the author of the paper to evaluate both films according to their differences in the narrative genre, the esthetical features such as actors’ performances, soundtracks, visual and dramatic effects and also elucidate the social matters of both pictures. The review of these special elements let the reader to see the preference of the original Herbert Ross’ creature. The minor changes in the story line, less professional cast, covers of the original music, less expressive and exciting visual and dramatic effects characterize Craig Brewer’s version and makes it less impressive on screen.
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