Old Movies vs. Their Remakes


Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim from New York City

When properly done, seeing your favorite childhood film remade is always a nostalgic experience. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

   Remakes of old films are constantly being produced because they allow the audience to travel back in time through nostalgia and pass on treasured tales to a younger generation, but can a remake truly beat the original? Let’s find out by contrasting a few diverse remakes with their predecessors. 

“Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”

   Beginning with a classic, both the 1971 and 2005 films follow the story of Roald Dahl’s original novel. The protagonist is Charlie Bucket, a child from a poor family, who wins the chance to stay at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory after discovering a Golden Ticket in his candy bar. 

   Between the two adaptations, one of their biggest differences lie in the fact that the first one was more of a musical and Charlie-centric, which I personally enjoyed, but the second one was less musically-oriented and more of Willy Wonka’s story.

   Being directed by Tim Burton, it’s no surprise that the remake would have a darker take than what the original went for. Both show Willy Wonka as an eccentric character with menacing undertones, but this is amplified in the remake and he comes across as borderline crazy.

   Despite the remake being more in line with what the novel went for, I felt less of a connection to Willy Wonka’s character because of it. I prefer the original’s bright and humorous yet slightly unnerving interpretation of his character.

   When it comes to the remake, something definitely worth praising is its overall atmosphere and visuals. The factory’s colorful, surreal nature really shined through in this film and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. The original did a fine job with this too, but all the advancements in technology opened up a great opportunity for the remake to excel.

   Concluding with which of the two I prefer, I don’t think the remake lived up to the charm and nostalgia its forerunner exudes. Tim Burton definitely brought the novel to life in his version and so I understand why readers may favor it, but I found the original more heartfelt and enchanting with its music and character depiction.


   Moving onto the horror genre, Stephen King’s “IT” did its job at horrifying both of its respective generations. The story follows Bill Denbrough and his friends as they are haunted by a clown who feeds on the fear of children, with a miniseries adaptation in the 1990s and then a pair of movies in the later 2010s. 

    Starting with what the miniseries did well, it presents a far more realistic-looking clown as Pennywise. Given his cheery and clown-like appearance, he easily draws kids in with a sense of familiarity, but with his portrayal in the movies, I cannot fathom why anyone would trust him in the first place given how blatantly murderous he appears.

   Many would argue that the movies amped up the eeriness with changing Pennywise’s look into something more visibly sinister, but I think that going for a more innocent look only to realize that something’s off throws you for more of a loop. 

   The 1990s miniseries also stays more faithful to the Stephen King novel in a variety of areas, which may be for better or for worse. The novel switches between two different time periods throughout the story, showing the characters as both kids and adults, but incorporating this structure into the miniseries was just confusing and weakened the storytelling.

   On the other hand, the movies were in chronological order, with the first being them as children and the second being them as adults. Instead of flip-flopping between two different eras, this method of narrative was far more consistent and easy to follow overall.

   The biggest props I could give the movies would have to be its casting. Especially when compared to the miniseries, the children’s resemblance to their adult counterparts is strikingly spot-on and they all play their respective characters well.

   All in all, both the miniseries and films have their perks and lovable qualities, making them difficult to compare. In the realm of horror alone, I prefer how the miniseries portrayed the story and felt that the novel’s aura was most accurately captured here. However, the later movies are undeniably more enjoyable and I found the characters more engaging and easy to connect with. Between the two, I would go for the newer movies but it’s a close call.


   Finishing off with one of the most iconic musicals, I will be comparing the first “Annie” film to its most recent adaptation. 

   This story of course follows Annie, a young orphan abandoned by her family yet filled to the brim with optimism. Her life quickly takes a different turn when a rich man motivated by image decides to let her stay with him.

   Where the 1982 and 2014 adaptations differ is that the latter tried modernizing the story with excessive social media usage and giving Annie a foster-home background instead of being from an orphanage.

   This modernization was certainly an upgrade in regards to inclusive casting and diminishing the original’s racist undertones, but other areas, such as an overabundance of technology and social media, felt forced and took away from the original’s charm.

   I also think that making the movie take place in 2014 waters down the original plot since such a key historical element was how families during the Great Depression were torn apart and orphanages were thus being filled, resulting in increased child-labor. 

   As for the most important part of any musical, its soundtrack, I honestly might prefer the remake here. Many disfavored it because of how poppy and auto-tuned it was, but I simply thought it was fun, upbeat, and had it stuck in my head after listening. 

   Although I haven’t mentioned it, my favorite of the various “Annie” adaptations would easily be the 1999 Disney version if given the option. However, between the two I covered, I slightly prefer the original over its most recent successor because it stays more faithful to its intended historical elements. 


   Despite only favoring one remake over its original here, I do believe remakes should continue to be made. They do a phenomenal job at keeping beloved stories alive and showcasing how both technology and the lenses of which we view media have evolved. The “IT” and “Annie” remakes especially shine in this regard, being able to better incorporate the diversity their predecessors lack.