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The Art of the Remake - Sabrina

Hollywood is famous for recycling. In an era when originality seems impossible, the phrase “it’s been done” has never been truer. From plots to scripts, older films are revamped and resold to moviegoers as a hot new idea. Sometimes remakes can be a wonderful remembrance of a classic film. When a remake is done well, it can be a wonderful homage to the original. Of course there are also those remakes that make us wish that the original film had just been left alone. Then there are those classics that some fans would feel offended to have Hollywood attempt to improve. Would you want to see a modern day version of “Casablanca”? What about a newer “Love Story”? Have there ever been any classic romance films that were remade to be better than the first?

In 1954, the lovely Audrey Hepburn starred in a romantic comedy about a young woman caught between two brothers. Sabrina Fairchild is the daughter of a chauffer who works for the wealthy Larrabee family. Although Sabrina grows up having a crush on David, the playboy brother, no one notices the shy, quiet girl. After a summer in Paris, Sabrina comes into her own as a beautiful young woman who no longer hides behind her father. When she returns home, she eventually draws the attention David as well as that of Linus, the serious, business minded Larrabee. As she grows more confident and eventually reveals herself as a competent woman who is all grown up, she must decide which of these men will truly make her happy.

The original version of Sabrina starred Humphrey Bogart as Linus Larrabee and William Holden (“The Bridge on the River Kwai”) as David. The film won an Oscar (Best Costume Design) and was directed by the late Billy Wilder (“Some Like It Hot”, “The Seven Year Itch”). Could a remake of this hit classic compare?

In 1995, director Sydney Pollack (“Cold Mountain”, “Sense and Sensibility”), was the mind behind a newer version of Sabrina, this time starring Julia Ormond (“Legends of the Fall”) as Sabrina, Harrison Ford as Linus, and Greg Kinnear as David. Although much of the original storyline remained the same, a few noted changes were added. This time Sabrina is a plain tomboy whom neither brother notices until after her time spent in Paris. Sabrina is in Paris for two years, working for Vogue magazine, where she develops a wonderful sense of style and changes herself accordingly. This version of the film also focuses more on the Larrabee’s family business and how each brother’s feelings for Sabrina affect them in the corporate world.

Although each version of the film was entertaining, the original was truly special with it’s light comedy and innocence. The remake couldn’t compete with the feel of the original, so it went for a more dramatic interpretation which suited it’s stars, but not necessarily the story. “Sabrina” is meant to be light-hearted, and the heavier feel of the remake didn’t do it justice. Although the remake was a bit different from the original, both films are worth watching.

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