“The scholars and poets of an earlier time can be read only with a dictionary to help”
– Carl Sandburg
Last week I wrote a piece about the movie “Creed”, touching on how it’s basically an updated version of the original “Rocky” for a new generation.
Now, some people asked why we should bother updating a story that’s stood the test of time.
While it’s true that the story still holds up and continues to inspire people almost half a century later (“Rocky” was released 40 years ago this year), it’s also true that we’re dealing with some other issues today as well. Issues that weren’t necessarily adressed the first time around.
If we look closely we can see that the story of “Rocky” is just a retelling of the classic “Hero’s Journey” (same structure we can see in “The Lord of the Rings”, “Harry Potter”, “Star Wars”, etc) set in the world of boxing. The names change, the details change, yet the same basic principles apply.
When things are set in a certain time and place the stories will sooner or later be outdated. Speech and fashion changes, cities change, and so on.
This is not to say that these works are inherently less valuable, however they do get harder to relate to.
Where we once saw amazing alien landscapes and heard tough talk we can now detect poor attempts at special effects and typical 70’s slang. Those things can really date otherwise great works of art.
This is why we need to update and retell these stories again and again. New people facing modern problems while still hitting on the same point.
The question is whether it does enough to honor the story told before and if it holds up to the quality we expect from the medium today.
When I happen to see a TV show from the late 90’s that used CGI, they’re more often than not really poor. We expect that TV shows from that era using CGI have at the very least a similar quality to “Jurassic Park”, which was revolutionary back in 1993.
Nowadays visual effects are taken for granted and as technology keeps changing we keep expecting more and more from the things we consume.
This is good. It keeps the creators on their toes.
At the same time some people get nostalgic over some things from their childhood. Take for example the explosion of “retro video games” with their 8- and 16-bit graphics.
Visually they might look quite simple but underneath that there’s still a ton of things going on that in some cases weren’t viable during the actual 8- and 16-bit eras.
The technology and space required to create those games simply weren’t available on cartridges, and even the most powerful computers might not have been able to handle the load.
My point is this: we don’t need to get rid of the past, nor do we have to cling so hard to it that we can’t phathom that it might need an update.
We can honor the things that’ve come before, while at the same time creating something that speaks to the time we’re living in right now.
We can build on the old, yet create new worlds to explore and learn from.
Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!