Skip’s Quips: Why Not Remake ‘Citizen Kane’ While We’re at It?

This isn’t something a critic freely admits, but I have to say it anyway: I didn’t see Takashi Miike’s remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s classic 1962 film Harakiri.

I did watch the original, however. That’s the reason right there.

I’m always puzzled as to why directors feel they have to recreate cinematic masterpieces. The 1983 American iteration of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless comes to mind first, but it’s only one point in a long line of reinterpretations. Remakes are about as traditional as apple pie, yet they’re rarely warranted. Miike’s version of Harakiri is an example. A brilliant, harrowing attack on feudal convention and injustice, Kobayashi’s iteration–the story of a samurai who, after telling a damning tale recounting his history, revenges himself on a clan that has destroyed his impoverished family–is as indignant as a film can get…and mesmerizing through and through.

I can’t think of any way it can be improved upon, and so I feel Miike’s version is irrelevant.

True, even great films aren’t perfect. I don’t think any work of art is without flaws. But you don’t care when viewing the best ones. You only want to be in their world.

So I’m not going to watch Miike’s remake of Harakiri. In this case, ignorance is bliss. But I may put on Kobayashi’s iteration sometime soon. And absorb it to the fullest–as such originality deserves.

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