With remakes of classic movies littering the box office with profitable abortions of film, I have been pondering films that are so perfectly timeless that remakes could never hope to touch. Movies that marry their story and plot to one time, one aesthetic, one heart, one soul, one mind, one goal. Cinematic masterpieces that yield the very idea of a remake just plain ridiculous and borderline offensive.
Yes, that is right. I am talking about Highlander. Every time I watch this movie I feel like I am looking into a time capsule of production aesthetic. If this movie had been created in any other year, would it still have the same epically awesome soundtrack? (God Save the Queen) Would a sword fight between two immortal dudes end up ripping down a fucking castle amidst the fakest clouds you could ever imagine? Would the female love interests seem nothing more than bit parts there to be the object of immortal male gaze? Would the accents still conveniently mismatch the countries they are supposed to represent? (I’m looking at you, Connery) Would MacLeod still seduce a girl by stabbing himself in the gut? No! No! No! No! …Maybe? Production value and the budgets of today would keep this movie from being anywhere near this ridiculous and awesome. Which is both a crying shame and a blessing.
The thing is, Highlander is perfect. I don’t know how this movie managed it, but this script was produced at EXACTLY the correct point in cinematic history. Could you picture it with big budget FX and CGI? Crammed full of big name stars? Trying for a more comprehensive life buildup of MacLeod and bogging itself down with extra sets and subplots? With complex plot and character development? Would you want to?
The only part I find could use a bit of work is this movie’s portrayal of NYC.
First, it is largely empty. Bar: empty. Streets: empty. C’mon. Yer not fooling anybody. If I believe this film, there were more people in a small clan in 1500s Scotland than the whole of NYC in the 80s. When it comes to extras there can’t be only one. Don’t be cheap.
Second, when there are other people, they are ALL TOO EAGER to play hero and try to break up a FREAKING SWORD FIGHT. That has WEIRD ASS ELECTRICAL CURRENTS COMING OUT OF IT. Now, I don’t think I am alone in saying if I passed a dark alley in NYC with two people TRYING TO KILL EACH OTHER WITH SWORDS that I would walk right on by. Briskly.
This movie gets better with age because it is so uniquely and deliciously a product of its age. The only piteous part of this fact is that Mr. “Deep Stare” MacLeod gets stuck with a girl from the 80s. Out of all the years he was alive and out of all the awesome ladies he likely boned, he gets stuck with Miss Crazy-Earring-Lady-of-Questionable-Substance. Who wants to live forever with THAT? Just seems a timeless shame.
(Here’s where I’d insert a picture of the 80s female love interest, but she seems to have been blocked out of the memory and image databases of Highlander fans, probably due to the fact she screams her way through half the movie.)
Made in any other moment in cinematic history, this movie would simply not work. May the remake buzzards stay far, far away from this plump, masterful carcass.
UPDATE: FML. Apparently, there can be more than one. Nothing in this world is sacred.