For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A tale of of tears and jerks: It's a Wonderful Life Plus 70

It's a Wonderful Life:
a truly uplifting movie
"Wonderful!" is an overworked word in many people's vocabulary, though it's unusual to hear it deployed nowadays in contexts that indicate fullness of wonder. One object of wonder, for this Kat at any rate, is why people ever want to pay money in order to watch a movie that makes them cry.  This leads him to take a keen interest in the goings-on on the other side of the Atlantic which Katfriend and guest contributor Rebecca Gulbul alludes to below.  Rebecca writes:
At the end of last week, it was revealed to a no doubt excited public that a sequel to one of the all-time great Christmas classic movies, It’s a Wonderful Life, [listed at number 6 in the list of greatest tear-jerkers] was to be made by Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions. The 1946 film, produced by Paramount Pictures and directed by Frank Capra, narrates the  Mr George Bailey who falls into the depths of despair about the state of his life and wishes that he had never been born. He is thereafter saved by an angel who shows him the positive impact he has had on the people of his town.

The storyline of the proposed sequel will be based on Charles Dickens’ story: A Christmas Carol. The main protagonist will be Mr Bailey’s grandson-- an unlikeable character (similar to Ebenezer Scrooge, left) who would be shown by an angel how much better life would have been had he not been born.  Karolyn Grimes -- who already featured in the first film as Zuzu, the daughter of Mr Bailey -- is to play the role of the angel. She will interpret an older version of her character, who has now become an angel.

Paramount Pictures has said that it will object to any sequel to the film, maintaining that it. They owned the rights to the film and that any attempt at a sequel would infringe those rights unless a licence for it was granted -- something that it's not prepared to do. Even if Paramount owns the rights, there can only be infringement if a substantial amount of the original work is copied. Does the sequel therefore attempt to take too many elements from the 1946 film? It might still be too soon to determine that at the moment given the limited amount of information we have and since the sequence has not yet been produced, but the current situation is explained below.

From an initial observation, the new storyline is different from the first film, as it will be based on A Christmas Carol. It is therefore neither a remake of the first film, nor does it appear substantially to rely on the previous plot. The main protagonist of the sequel will be George Bailey’s grandson, a character who was not part of the first film. 
Little Zuzu: no visible wings
back in 1946
 
Little Zuzu, whom we met in the first film and who played a minimal part, has now been incarnated into an angel (we don’t know yet if she has earned her wings!) in order to show her nephew, the revised, upgraded version of Scrooge, how much better the world would have been had he not been born (a neat twist on the theme of Mr Bailey’s original situation). There does not seem to be any substantial resemblance to the original plot. Further, although Zuzu's character has been inspired from the 1946 film, the role she is expected to play now is substantially different.

It would appear therefore that the extent to which copyright law can be invoked in order to prevent this sequel is doubtful. Copyright is only concerned about protecting the expression of ideas, while it is axiomatic ideas on their own have long been held non-protectable. It appears so far that the sequel only pertains to be inspired by the first film without attempting to copy a substantial part of the story.

Tom Capra, the son of the deceased director Frank Capra told Associated Press that he does not support a sequel and believes that his father would not either. However, this seems to relate more to a moral right issue rather than a copyright one and the Visual Artists Rights Act 1990 in the US only provides moral rights protection to certain categories of works which does not include films.
It will be great to see how the story unfolds. If the sequel does go ahead, its release is expected in time for Christmas 2015.
This Kat feels that it would be improbable, given the nature of the new storyline, to run the sequel with a title anything like It's a Wonderful Life.  What more appropriate title might be conjured up, he ponders.

"Mr Wonderful" here by Peggy Lee, here by Fleetwood Mac
"It's a Wonderful World" here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's a blunderful strife?

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