By David Worboys •
Published: 11 Nov 2023 • 13:55
"The Magnificent Seven" could be reproduced to feature such British "national treasures" as Alan Sugar and Philip Green
“Don Quixote de la Mancha” is recognised not only as the world´s first novel but also one of the greatest in any language. So why would anybody presume to change it?
The writer Marcos Antonio Lopez Zaragoza of Benalmadena has chosen to bring the classic work of Cervantes into the 21st century, setting it in his town on the Costa del Sol. In it Don Quixote is accompanied by Sancho (Panza), but Dulcinea is replaced by a dog called Cinnamon – and the legendary horse, Rocinante, by a scooter as he journeys around the tourist spots of Benalmadena.
Meanwhile, in the USA, Barbara Kingsolver has published “Demon Copperhead”, based on the Charles Dickens classic “David Copperfield”. The hero is born to a widowed teenage mother in a trailer home in Virginia and has to confront the poverty of today´s American south.
In England, the comedian Stuart Lee is working on one of Shakespeare´s greatest tragedies. He seeks to bring “Macbeth” up to modern standards by rewriting the humorous scene with the drunk porter.
Each of these may or may not be an excellent work in its own right, but are the authors incapable of developing a theme, a plot and a setting without borrowing and interfering with an established masterpiece? Or are the references to time-tested classics, just a publicity stunt?
A number of great films of the cinema have likewise been reworked, albeit more closely to the original. “The thirty-nine steps” was released in 1935 and then reproduced in 1959, 1978 and 2008. Although a majority of reproduced films are regarded as inferior to the original, improved technology, new interpretations and, in some cases, superior acting may result in a more enjoyable version. A lot depends on the period in which the plot takes place. “The man who knew too much” was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 1934. Once in Hollywood, he himself made some modifications and directed the revised version in 1956.
Looking ahead, there are more recent classic films that could be dusted down and tarted up to reflect our contemporary world. For example, “The Magnificent Seven” could be represented by English criminals on the run in Marbella as they get together to track down a Swedish mafia gang. The title roles could be played by Gordon Ramsay, Alan Sugar, Philip Green, Simon Cowell, Harry Maguire, Boris Johnson and Piers Morgan.
In my experience, change is too frequently for the worse. Regress rather than progress. It may mean more complicated websites, declining standards or unavailability of products and services. And how many restaurants are not as good as they were ten years, or even four years ago?
“If it´s broke, don´t fix it” may be the new motto of the UK government. In other respects change is essential but it should always be for the better; not just for the sake of change.
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