I first saw The Hunger in 1987 while I was living in Holland. I’d spied it in a local video shop that catered to the Americans stationed at the little Air Base there. I fallen in love with Catherine Deneuve after I’d seen her in the black and white Polanski film Repulsion. That was the only reason I’d picked that video to watch. That it dealt with ‘modern’ vampires and had David Bowie and Susan Sarandon in it as well, was a bonus.
Back then I didn’t know who Tony Scott was. Oh I knew of his brother Ridley. You know the story, started making award winning commercials and then made the leap to feature films. Ridley was the Midas of celluloid. While Ridley was busy setting the film world on fire, Tony was fine tuning his directorial skills on music videos and commercials.
The Hunger did not do well at the box office (although now it is a cult classic) and Tony Scott then made the iconic Tom Cruise vehicle Top Gun and he was then considered an action film auteur and that is how he made his living. I cannot refute that he was very good working in the action genre but I think he was trapped there. I loved The Hunger and that is the film I most associate with him.
The Hunger was adapted from the Whitley Strieber novel and it tells the story of the vampire Miriam (Deneuve) and her ‘partner’ John (Bowie). Miriam had ‘turned’ John and although he has vampire ‘powers’ he is inexplicably growing old. Fast. It turns out that this is the fate of all of Miriam’s lovers, she has an attic full of undead corpses who are anciently old but cannot die, John will soon join them.
John goes to see a doctor, Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) who specializes in premature ageing. John leaves before Sarah can treat him. She is horrified to see how quickly he has aged and she goes to the home that he shares with Miriam. As soon as Miriam meets Sarah it is love at first sight and John is soon relegated to the attic.
Miriam then ‘turns’ Sarah who isn’t happy with this turn of events. Sarah then decides to leave Miriam who doesn’t want her to go.
The Hunger was dark, daring, different and sensual. At that time in film-land vampires were Christopher Lee or Louis Jourdan or even Jack Palance ( as Count Yorga) et al. In those films vampires were interested in controlling you and drinking you dry. Not only is Miriam female (and nothing like the Brides of Dracula) but she loved and she got lonely. Her partners, like the unfortunate John, always had to be replaced. As her lovers aged and the blood could no longer rejuvenate them, she was sad, but pragmatic.
Miriam knew that she must find another lover to turn or she would face eternity alone.
Tony Scott’s reputation was based on his finesse with the action genre. But I will always remember him for The Hunger. His debut film was one that, even though it was slow to catch on, went on to reach iconic cult status in the film world.
I have read that he had inoperable brain cancer. When I read that, his demise made more sense. I am not sure what I would do if I received that sort of news. Scott’s decision was personal and private and I respect that.
Just as I respected him as a film maker.
Rest in peace Tony. Like so few other folks in this world, you brought a lot to the party.
We’ll miss you.
*I”d like to thank John over at WRITTEN IN BLOOD for his brilliant review of True Romance a Tony Scott film that he felt summed the man’s talent up. His article prompted me to think of my Tony Scott film. So thank you John.*
- REMEMBERING TONY SCOTT: TRUE ROMANCE (WRITTEN IN BLOOD.COM)
- Hollywood reacts to the death of Tony Scott (kfwbam.com)
- Director Tony Scott Dead At 68 (screenrant.com)
- Tony Scott, RIP (lewrockwell.com)
- Tony Scott, 1944 – 2012 (nerdist.com)
- Tony Scott (1944 – 2012) (noeltanti.com)
- National News: Tony Scott: Obituary (coventrytelegraph.net)
I have just read that Spike Lee is re-making Oldboy. To say I’m angy and dismayed is the understatement of the century. I am not too surprised as there is apparently some sort of loophole in the Korean film system where the owners/creators of a Korean film have no rights. Anyone can take their film lock, stock and barrel and remake it. This is the second time (that I’m aware of) where Hollywood has decided to take advantage of this copyright loophole.
The first time was with the brilliant Tale Of Two Sisters, Jee-woon Kim’s masterpiece. This film was a skilful blend of supernatural horror and psychological thriller. It was butchered beyond all recognition by Hollywood in the re-make titled The Uninvited. It beggars belief that Hollywood can see the merit of the original film and then re-make it so badly that it is nigh-on unrecognisable upon completion.
Now Hollywood has it’s sights firmly set on Oldboy. Oldboy was part of Chan-wook Park’s ”vengeance” trilogy. The first of which was Sympathy for Mr Vengeance. The last of the trilogy was Lady Vengeance. Oldboy was sandwiched firmly in the middle. That Park is a master craftsman is undeniable. When you watch these films you feel overwhelmed by the imagery and the intricacy of the plots. Of course Min-sik Choi features in two of the films. He is the star of Oldboy, the villain in Lady Vengeance and is suitably different in each role.
I dearly love all three films, although Sympathy for Mr Vengeance always depresses me no end when I watch it. The point is all three films have so much in common. I’m not talking about plot here. I’m talking about the amount of care that Park takes in the crafting of each film. In Oldboy for example, look at the clothes the three main protagonists wear. Each of the characters wear certain colours and patterns that tell you, who they are and how they fit into the film. The set designs have been developed the same way. I could go on for hours about the amount of effort that Asian film makers put into their films, but I think it would start to sound a bit like ranting.
I think that Asian cinema has some of the most talented directors in the world at the moment. Asian directors usually write the screen plays of the films they direct and in some cases produce them as well. If ever the phrase of ”director as auteur” applied to anyone, it applies to Asian directors. For Hollywood to re-make the work of these masters without asking permission, or (most disturbingly) without conferring with them on the process of the re-make itself is criminal. At the very least it is a little nuts. The very fact that the original films were so successful almost mandates an invitation for original creators to be involved.
There is no denying that Hollywood is on the “Remake Train.” They aren’t just remaking World Cinema’s great films, they’re remaking much loved Hollywood films as well. True Grit was released earlier this year. And a list of further re-makes that are upcoming is long and upsetting. One of the latest is The Wild Bunch which is under going talks to be directed by Tony Scott. It is disturbing to think that the well of talent is so dry in Hollywood that they’ve had to resort to remaking other peoples classic/iconic films to turn a profit.
I think it’s safe to say that Hollywood is no longer the “Dream Factory,” they are now the“Remake Factory.”
- ‘Oldboy’ director backing remake, says Josh Brolin (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Spike Lee Get’s His OLDBOY Villain And It’s Sharlto Copley! (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- Josh Brolin Talks OLDBOY Remake; Says Film Has Chan-wook Park’s Blessing and Includes Hammerfight and Octopus Scenes (collider.com)