‘Dumbo’ and dumber? Will CGI make it a better movie?
We wonder if the charm of the original will be lost
A sneak-peek trailer from the Dumbo remake was made available a few days ago and it looks, well, interesting. The film, directed by Tim Burton, retells the story of the famous Disney animated film which won the 1941 Academy Award for Best Original Score. The cartoon has become a childhood favourite and songs like When I See An Elephant Fly and Pink Elephants on Parade have inspired audiences of all ages.Dumbo is the latest Disney movie to get the live-action treatment after Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and The Jungle Book, and many more are expected to come. Ironically, considering its origins in animated films, Disney appears to be moving away from animation and trying to immerse audiences in CGI “real” action. Cartoons and animated features may be becoming a thing of the past as entertainment aimed at kids becomes increasingly sophisticated, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality – especially in video games.The live-action format also allows filmmakers to cast favourite actors and actresses in roles that have a nostalgic quality. Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton, for example, tend to draw the crowds. Familiar films that were part of our childhoods are being recreated with an artistic twist so that adults and children can enjoy them together.
Disney stories are being imbued with glamour and celebrity dazzle which appeals to audiences but could change the emotional effect and intention of the movie. Instead of being purely entertaining, the film will now hold a fascination for those interested in just how real the technology can make the action appear. Will we believe that elephants can fly? And how will the filmmaker achieve the strange, hallucinogenic Pink Elephants on Parade scene?There is a lot of hype surrounding the remake. It seems many people are keen to see technology enhance a story that already has an existing fan base. The assumption is that kids prefer a live-action remake over the original because of the advantages of high-end special effects. Seeing elephants fly and experiencing humans as part of that action makes the movie easier to relate to, enabling audiences to empathise with the characters to an even greater extent. Or will the magic of the original be lost?The trailer has been viewed more than nine million times and counting in the past few days. Live-action movies seem to be just as appealing to adults even though they are not the primary target audience. By broadening the concept and refining visuals, most people will be interested in the experience of new-age cinematography, even if some of the charm of the original is lost. At the very least, people will want to compare the original with the CGI remakes – good for Disney’s bottom line.Eventually what is currently technologically advanced will seem old, obsolete and in need of refinement – and perhaps that will create the opportunity for studios to bring out remakes of the remakes. But for now I’m just excited to see whether this hi-tech movie captures my imagination as much as the sweet original did.