Some of it is deserved. Sometimes whatever made the original worthwhile is completely overlooked or misunderstood in the update.
But then there are the remakes that make up for the rest, the ones that find untapped potential hiding in the original.
In fact, that would be too easy. Instead, I’ve put together a list of my favorite remakes that don’t yet exist, the stores of untapped potential I consider most neglected in the stories we already have.
First up, Rumpelstiltskin.
Our heroine’s father boasts that she can spin straw into gold, leading to her being abducted by the king and locked in a room full of straw and a spinning wheel. If she can prove her skill for three nights in a row, she marries the king (or in some versions, his son). If not, she’ll be executed.
A supernatural being appears to her on the first night and offers to spin the straw into gold for her, for a price. The first two nights, he accepts the trinkets she has on her as payment. On the third, he will only accept the promise of her firstborn.
Lacking other options, she accepts, marries the king or prince, and naturally becomes frantic for a way out of the deal when they have their first baby. When she asks to re-negotiate, the being tells her he’ll forgive the debt if she can guess his name. She stalks him until she overhears his name, then confronts him with it and saves the kid.
The Imaginary Remake:
How Disney managed to overlook this particular princess fairytale for all these years, I’ll never know. There are plenty of children’s book tellings and a Turner Classics half hour cartoon, and that’s about all. Sure, it has the usual level of fairytale nonsense and WTF plot hoops to be contended with, but so did the original stories behind most Disney classics.
There’s so much that could be done with this!
First, of course, you’d have to get the prince into the story in a sympathetic way. Maybe he’s trying to help our heroine escape, slipping her the trinkets she needs to pay Rumpelstiltskin by night. Maybe she’s in the straw room because of him in the first place. How about we get rid of the ridiculously irresponsible father and give our princess a little more responsibility for the series of events? Let’s make her a street con artist working an alchemy routine because it beats prostitution. She and the prince meet, he’s taken with her put-on persuasive charisma, but the king instantly pegs her for the crook she is and throws her into the straw test to teach his son a lesson.
The prince has to come to terms with the princess having lied to him and decide that he wants to help her anyway, since her predicament is kind of his fault. Hey, maybe the means of summoning Rumpelstiltskin some from his side! Much more satisfying than having Rumpelstiltskin appearing out of nowhere, and connections with real magic don’t go with our princess’s charlatan background. The princess naturally thinks she’s pulling one over on the prince, getting him to help her, but then realizes she’s falling for him too, because of course that’s how that kind of thing goes.
Then of course our prince and princess have to team up and combine her street smarts and his magical talent to trick Rumpelstiltskin into revealing his name via a zany but clever scheme, and holy crap how has this not been done yet?!
It doesn’t have to be Disney. It doesn’t even have to be a movie. The story’s public domain, and there’s enough potential material for a…
Hey, I might be giving myself an idea!
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome! Or keep up with my fictional musings by joining me on Facebook, on Twitter, or by signing up for email updates in the panel on the right!