A critical reflection of ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ remake.

Whilst not being radically opposed to the Hollywood institution, French New Wave made a point of providing a cinematic alternative in terms of both technical practice and textual interaction. “The New Wave dramatically changed filmmaking inside and outside France by encouraging new styles, themes and modes of production throughout the world” (Neupert, 2007; xv) By choosing a scene from ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ (a Hollywood reboot of the previously established Marvel film franchise) we were forced to deconstruct the text’s modes of representation, ideological stances and consider what ‘tier one’ attributes could be replaced or modified. Carroll describes these tiers as a “system of communication, sending a special message to the film cognoscenti in the audience, while leaving those less knowledgeable to experience the film on a more immediate level” (Dika, 2003; 14).

Viewers will inevitably struggle to comprehend the new remake, considering it abandons most of the institutional approaches to invisible storytelling that have dictated what is or isn’t within the viewers’ comfort zone. This presented us with a challenge regarding the conversation between Peter and Gwen, considering that the entire scene was in fact, just conversation. This was a potential major downfall of the scene remake, but a potential success, simultaneously. Provided we tried to implement as much of the ‘French New Wave Spirit’ as possible we felt confident that we could work the otherwise lacking shots into our favour. 
Naturally, before we could even begin to de-construct and re-construct the scenes, we had to ask ourselves ‘What exactly is French New Wave?’ or more to the point, what constitutes the institutional modes of representation that one associates with such a movement? When held against something such as contemporary Hollywood, we saw absurdity, the sporadic and self-reflexivity. French New Wave film is often teeming with intertextuality and references. Updated to modern standards we would be facing the task of making a film that was explicitly conscious of its own existence, or more to the point, conscious of its serving as artifice, a reconstruction of the real, but nothing more (Bazin, 1967: 235). Once understood and appreciated the importance of this ethos we sought to make it so the audience were also aware of the constraints of representation, or as Bazin would say, ‘myth’. As a result we made sure to break the fourth wall on occasion, as well as deliberately catch the reflection of the film-crew (Whittington, 2007; 61).
However therein lies another problem: There is a fine line between the serious, thoughtful intentions of a new wave director and a laughable parody. Admittedly we saw the reality of this issue within our own work, particularly the ‘Uncle Ben’ shot, which lost much of its initial meaning when shown to those outside of our group (What we had hoped to be an implicit remark at consumer culture that is centralised within mainstream film was received as a cheap play on words). “Hollywood films spend more on marketing a film than producing it.” (Jones & Jolliffe, 2006; 325)
Clearly one had to be on clear terms with the techniques and interpretations of the New Wave (to some extent) in order to fully appreciate it in action. The ‘unwanted’ response was, unfortunately the most common; awkward laughter and confusion amongst those who saw the video. It seemed that the scene could only be enjoyed by those of us ‘in the know’, and on a sheerly academic level. With our pleasure arising from identification rather than narrative gratification we concluded that our remake was safely in the realms of ‘tier two’ film-making, the only drawback was it made for an exclusive viewer-ship.
There was certainly no pleasure to gain from the narrative construction, if anything we had hoped to achieve what Classic Hollywood would almost consider taboo, and that is leaving a ‘story’ unfinished, unsatisfying (Mulvey: 1975)Because of this we had to have (on some level) a workable, albeit weak narrative strand for viewers to follow. It was loosely based around the original ‘break up’ talk between the protagonist couple:
If there was anything else in our remake that the audience were to understand it would be our deliberate subversion of classic a-b-a editing used in character interaction to create an objective view of the entire scenario. It would have been difficult (and potentially outside of the task criteria) if we removed all hints of the shot-reverse shot technique. As it stands the back and forth between the characters we see on screen were possibly the only major similarity the remake still shared with the original. We drew our inspiration from this factor, choosing to ‘reset’ the conversation between characters with each full cycle of ‘a-b-a’. We employed erratic and disorienting changes to the mise en-scene to anchor the idea that this was a deliberate effort on our part, rather than a coy of amateurism. As a result, the characters would swap places, the temporal space was disrupted, and almost every major ‘breakup emotion’ was successfully captured within the various ‘scenarios’.
By providing so many variants of the breakup between Peter and Gwen the audience would be ‘teased’ into interacting with the text, not only trying to ascertain which of the versions were authentic (if any), and how the story would really end. To a certain extent we are also tapping into the collective anxieties that Hollywood can never portray without correction, such as infidelity and the compromise of masculinity.
Personally, when looking back at this task we admit its flaws and strengths as a piece. Most notable is the overwhelming nature of the remake, given we had roughly two minutes to retell a story with a totally different I.M.R. It was a daunting prospect, during which we lost ourselves to time constraints after a period of trial and error with other potential scene remakes. Having eventually chosen the one in question, there is no doubt that viewers would have to re-watch the scene several times over just to appreciate the quantity of changes. The political economy of mainstream cinema (from an institutional perspective) dictates that films (for mass consumption) are simplistic, digestible, and satisfying as a disposable ‘single burn’ product. This is definitely something ours is not, but as a task, an exercise of understanding, particularly regarding the contrast between different modes of representation, we feel we were successful.
Bazin, A., & Gray, H. (1967). What is cinema? Berkeley, University of California Press.
Dika, V. (2003). Recycled culture in contemporary art and film: the uses of nostalgia. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Jolliffe, G., & Jones, C. (2004). The guerilla film makers handbook. New York, NY, Continuum.
Neupert, R. J. (2002). A history of the French new wave cinema. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press.
Whittington, W. (2007). Sound design & science fiction. Austin, TX, University of Texas Press.

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