Film and TV

Scarface, Rebooting a Legend and Playing with Political Fire

by on 25/03/2014
 

Last week I let out a little rant about the subject of reboots, it seems this week will be the same.

Last night, The Wrap revealed that Chilean director, Pablo Larrain (Academy Award nominee for “No” as Foreign Language film) will be taking over the helm to from David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) to direct the forthcoming Scarface reboot.

Scarface is no stranger to remakes with it’s long forgotten original being released in 1932 (directed by Hollywood legend Howard Hawks) and the more popularly known 1983 version reinventing the story to be relevant to a modern audience.

The original movie poster for the 1932 Scarface, how times have changed!

The original movie poster for the 1932 Scarface, how times have changed!

The 1932 film plays out very similarly to it’s 1983 partner, however, the 1983 version has the subplot of it’s anti-hero Tony Montana being a Cuban immigrant who rises to power through a “no guts no glory” struggle with the underworld cocaine business (emphasis on the “guts” part), whereas his 1932 counterpart was an more typical gangster movie Italian immigrant.

It’s hard to see how writer Paul Attanasio (Donnie Brasco) can avoid playing the immigrant card which in todays climate, could make for a very interesting spin.  Political tensions surrounding the subject could see the movie as a clashpoint for anti-immigration and immigrant rights.

You can immediately imagine certain more right wing parties will be enamoured by a film depicting an immigrant as a sleazy crime boss spreading drugs and murder wherever he goes. Equally, the backlash of portraying immigrants in such a dark light could backfire on the movie worlds more liberal press.  The real test will be to see how Universal want the movie made, regardless of Pablo Larrains intentions and artistic interpretation.

Do movie goers actually care though?  I for one am more interested to see how they manage to reboot a movie which is not only a classic, but a legend.  With the 80’s glamour lost and the story taking a Mexican crime lord route, I can see this being something that is described as “gritty” and aiming for it as well.

1983's monochrome scheme for Scarface showing the change in the industry over 50 years

1983’s monochrome scheme for Scarface showing the change in the industry over 50 years

Furthermore, I can see the producers and Universal attempting to shy away from the fierce political undertones at the risk of unsettling a tinderbox subject.  While other movies have handled such subjects, few have done it by resurrecting a legend to do so.  Could Universal effectively neuter the movies story and turn it into a run of the mill action movie?  Lets face it, with the arsenal of remakes and reboots and comic book movies they’re throwing out, it’s obvious that movie studios are playing safe cards at the moment and Scarface doesn’t lend itself to safe very well.

With a lot of faith in the writing and directing to come in Scarface, I think this is a movie that will ruffle a few feathers between the right, the left and the movie going public.

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