Saturday, 25 December 2010

"What If We Remake Sink The Bismarck Without Any German Ships?"

Remakes are tricky things to get a handle on.  A lot of a time it's difficult to see them as anything other than desperate money grabs.  But let's assume for the sake of argument that tonight's reworking of Whistle And I'll Come To You is a genuine attempt to introduce a new generation to M R James' classic ghost story, and the wonderful BBC adaptation that followed.

If that's the case, then, here's a very simple question: what the fuck happened to the fucking whistle?  The instrument isn't just a MacGuffin for the story to progress, BBC.  It's crucial that Parkins blows the whistle - what unleashes all the terror is his scientific curiosity, which makes him want to know what will come at the sound without any idea what that might be.  It has to be a voluntary process, in other words.  Happening to find a wedding band and being haunted afterwards knocks out the central idea that Parkins caused this because his intelligence was too narrow to conceive of what might happen.  I don't care how guilty he feels about leaving his borderline comatose wife in a care home.

In short, then, it's not just that Neil Cross would apparently re-write Lord of the Rings to replace the One Ring with the One Tongue Stud.  Nor is that he would still insist on calling it Lord of the Rings even though that no longer makes any sense.  It's that he'd change the plot so that Frodo is always invisible whether he has the tongue stud in or not.

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