Some of the biggest films at the box office in the last year weren't on their first go-round on the silver screen. The advent of 3D films initiated a growing trend: second servings of old movies. Seen The Lion King a thousand times? Yes? Want to pay $15 to see it again? Well, the lions actually jump out at you this time. Tempting, I know. Be sure to bring your anti-anxiety meds. Hakuna Matata!
OK, granted, I didn't see The Lion King in its entire 3D splendor and I'm largely unaware if the lions actually jump out at you. But if it's not the lions, it's probably the hyenas or the antelope -- so I'm sure I'm close. In any case, the latest set of golden Oscars hinted that yet another cinematic flavor is on the rise: the silent film.
The Artist cleaned up at the most recent installment of the Academy Awards -- and it did so without saying a word. If other producers catch on to the trend, the next couple years could see a rising tide of additional silent films. But if I learned anything from the 3D trend, it's that every big movie deserves a second rodeo if it comes back in a different form -- what I'm saying is, why not start turning old favorites into silent films?
Further pondering led me to some glitches in that plan when I realized that not every film would be quite so successful sans dialogue. So, for what it's worth, here are a few popular movies that I believe would seriously crash and burn as silent films:
1. The Lord of the Rings. Are we kidding? What would this timeless trilogy be without the ability to mimic a few creepy Gollum lines or periodically yell "You shall not pass!" at your unsuspecting family members or housemates? Answer: It wouldn't be nearly as good. You can't get that kind of fiery passion from a lip read! Though either way, I'm sure I'd still be openly weeping by the time Sam carries Frodo up the mountain. Which is precisely why the audio is necessary -- who wants to cry in a silent room?
2. Back to the Future. It was bad enough hoping the DeLorean would reach 88mph in time -- I can't imagine the anxiety if they cut the instructional dialogue and I had no idea what number they were even aiming for. Not to mention, if I didn't have George McFly's quivering pick-up line "You are my density" seared into my memory, I'm not sure I could even believe in true love.
3. Star Wars. Well, I actually have mixed feelings on this one. I'd probably be OK if we erased every annoying vocal cadence that ever left Jar Jar Binks' oversized gullet. And I suppose R2D2's dialogue is only arguably crucial to the plot line. But if Yoda's funny way of speaking never hit my ears? No "I love you" from Leia and "I know" from Han Solo? No chortling wookie yells from Chewbacca? My childhood weeps at the thought.
4. Dirty Dancing. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." Enough said.
5. A Christmas Story. There's no denying it -- the narrator makes this film. Sure, watching a stoic, blonde kid navigate the ins and outs of Christmastime, school and neighborhood bullies is entertaining enough in its own way. But a stoic, blonde kid with a deep, adult voice narrating his every thought? Priceless. Besides, we'd never understand why his friend licked the frozen pole if we didn't know the verbal taunting that preceded it. No one can turn down a triple-dog dare - I'm pretty sure that's Newton's 4th Law of Motion.
6. The Sound of Music. Well let's be honest, without the music it would simply be 3 hours of Julie Andrews looking alternatively hesitant and defiant, interspersed with scenes of children frolicking in overalls made from curtains. In other words, potentially the worst 3 hours of my life. Granted, some people might prefer it without the incessant singing. I guess you can only learn about female deer and a pocket full of sun so many times before you are ready for those musical Austrian hills to be very, very dead.