Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Legacy of Remember Me: Part One

In Jessegirl's latest wonderful article takes a very interesting and thoughtful look at what the Remember Me Legacy might be in the future.

-by jessegirl- October 24, 2010

Gazing into a crystal ball, what will Remember Me’s legacy be?
Will the Oscars, Baftas, SAGs, Golden Globes look favourably in its direction?
Will it be included in future “Best Film” lists?
Will it become a classic? Or perhaps a cult classic? A sleeper?
Could it become a best-loved film?
Could it appear on film courses in universities, or even find a niche in high school history classes? What criteria do we use to measure legacy?

Hmm. I’m sure some people reading this will think these are ridiculous questions. Given the way the industry and media operate perhaps many think specifically my second query deserves only a raised eyebrow and a dismissive snort. Knowing the film as I do, I would never have predicted either poor critical reception or fair to middling box office, certainly not both together. But that combination was part of what propelled me into defending the film. What does that say about the accuracy of my crystal ball?

It is early days to speak of legacy, I know. It’s been only about 6 months since Remember Me’s U.S. theatrical premiere. However, with films, predictions are rampant. People have no compunction to say “generating Oscar buzz” about other films, either before general release (Oprah, about Precious at TIFF), or after a lucrative premiere (The Social Network).

Oscars and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
This type of Oscar buzz is laden with self-fulfilling prophecy. It manipulates the public into considering certain films Oscar contenders just as they’re leaving the gate, only because the media has presented them this way. (I’m not judging the worth of the films I mention, but am observing a pattern.) The public gets used to hearing a particular film’s title together with the word Oscar and this word association sticks in their minds. People are primed to buy into this idea; the buzz builds because from the first time people hear of the film it has been given this classy cachet, whether deserved or not. Once it takes hold, this initial hype feeds on itself. People think there must be something of value in the film. If the film really isn’t that great, it becomes a situation of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Only independent and rebellious viewers won’t be swept up in this almost mindless concurrence.

But a self-fulfilling prophecy is a machine in motion, and inertia carries it forward, not insight, excellence or perspective. And this machine can effectively go in the other direction and shut down a film’s future too. The words which early “critical” reviews associated with Remember Me were designed to cut it off at the knees (i.e. shameful, exploitative, manipulative, tacked-on ending, maudlin and so on).

And, in my opinion, the only reason Remember Me has not had Oscar buzz surrounding it is because of the biased, unprofessional behaviour of critics. Their rash, opinionated yet obtuse attitudes created an avalanche of misconception. And their negative words adhered to the film, tainting it. Let’s face it, Remember Me’s true audiences would be drawn from outside the Twilight universe, a broad demographic that would have to be won over another way. In any case, believing makes it so. If you hear these derogatory words often enough, you would be likely to give the film a pass rather than a chance. It all comes down to belief, to faith in the arbiters of opinions.

Critical Acclaim
Now some staunch supporters of Remember Me have made predictions that in future, when Remember Me’s excellence is finally recognized, in some gloriously imagined future, the critics will eat their words. Others think this is a pointless fantasy. I know that if this back-pedalling ever comes from the critics, it will not be in time to make a difference to the up-coming awards season. Critics are not known for eating humble pie; after all, what faith would people have in a critic who makes a marked about-face?

Other supporters think the die is cast, critical reception being—er—critical to award nominations. So when I speak of Remember Me’s legacy, I go far beyond the awards. I have, of course, advocated persistently on behalf of Remember Me — to the annoyance of some — have attempted to counter the juggernaut of negativity and to generate Oscar buzz myself at the grass-roots level [See my article Oscars and Remember Me.]

But that’s a rusty engine to start if it’s been sabotaged from the beginning
and my puny efforts cannot take the sugar out of the tank, so to speak. Who the heck am I? To use another metaphor, battling this many-headed Hydra of established critical influences takes a superhero and I’m not that. I would leave behind all talk of awards except that other viewers who loved this film are vocally enthusiastic about its award-worthy nature. I may be a passionate advocate but I am not the only voice, far from it, I’m only one of so many viewers. The following are the tip of the iceberg:

-‘It has to win some kind of award.’ [Nancy]
-‘ITA...this movie needs to win awards! The quality of this movie is just fantastic!...And the entire cast deserves serious accolades...It is definitely award-worthy!’ [GwenCooper426]
-‘this is Oscar worthy...’ [Bonemama]
-‘the movie is a masterpiece...’ [alliecullen]

Best Film Lists
Everyone knows that not all Academy Award winners withstand the test of time, whereas some films/directors/actors which have never won awards are now on either best-loved or best film lists. The awards have glaring omissions (Hitchcock stands out). Films not nominated for a single Oscar which are now considered classics are Bringing Up Baby (1939), Fail Safe (1964), His Girl Friday (1940), and The Searchers (1956). Films not nominated for Best Picture include: Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, Some Like it Hot. Actors never nominated include: Marilyn Monroe, Maureen O’Hara, Dirk Bogarde, Martin Sheen and Donald Sutherland (whose snub for Ordinary People was stunning).
One could go on in this vein and has.

“Best” lists vary and are themselves subjective and skewed by the attitudes of the year in which they are made, as well as the gender of their creators. These days cynicism wins over compassion, clever crafting wins over reverence, for example. ‘Gritty’ and ‘slick’ tenor win over emotion, and the degrogatory ‘maudlin’ is attached to anything attempting to deliver tender feeling. These are general 2010 biases.

But what the lists give us is some perspective and what critics pan now might be considered a classic in time. Remember Me’s audiences have voiced this also, repeatedly.

-‘It will still be relevant in a year, 5 years, and in 10 years.’ [GwenCooper426]
-‘I’m sure in some years from now it will be one of those movies that when you say you haven’t seen it people look at you in wonder/surprise and tell you “you can’t be serious, you HAVE to see this movie!”’ [Vafla89]
-‘If ever there was a film that requires perspective, it’s RM...Some things require a second viewing before you ‘get it’...I have a feeling this film is going to be talked about a LOT over the years...Right now we’re dealing with a ‘knee jerk’ reaction.’ [Nikola6]
-‘This is in a class on its own, a class beyond excellence, and certainly beyond what the usual movie fare is.” [Solas]
-‘This film will be a classic!...They don’t make them like this anymore.’ [Valerie]
-‘This movie is a classic. People just don’t realize it yet.’ [Jennifer L]
-‘This is going to be one of those films that in 10 years will be looked back upon by critics as one of the best ‘unusual’ films of the decade –it will make many lists of outstanding films that were underappreciated in their time but gained respect and stature as the years go on and more and more viewers discover it.’ [Rubydynasty]

I agree with this. Remember Me will, at some point, not only be vindicated, but will be considered a genuine Classic, -capital ‘C’.

The Box Office for Remember Me is actually quite respectable, considering its genre. It made approxomintley $58M worldwide (its foreign BO was great). This more than delivered profit, as its budget was a mere $16M. Some big budget films competing with it, like Green Zone haven’t made back their budgets. I won’t make comparisons with other films here as it is complicated to find apples-to-apples candidates.

DVD domestic sales are currently $10.3M at least (not included are Walmart figures which are not released, and international sales). Rental figures are strong as well.

Audience polls
Box Office Mojo’s readers’ poll gave Remember Me 81% [67.6% (A) & 12.9% (B)].
Compare with: Green Zone 60.5%; Dear John at 51.1%; Alice in Wonderland 69.8%). Only Oscar contenders/winners fared as good as or better than Remember Me: Blind Side 87.6%; Hurt Locker 81.7%; Precious 82%; Avatar 88.1%).
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Poll: Remember Me = 71% liked it.
IMDb : a respectable 7 out of 10 ranking for Remember Me.
Amazon (US and UK) audience DVD reviews: average 4.5 out of 5 stars.

There’s more and one could go into more detail comparing various films on these scales but in general Remember Me has found great audience approval. These measurements have their own biases and problems but they are used for all films.

Real Legacy
All of the factors I’ve mentioned tell only part of the story. Legacy is more. Legacy is “that which remains”. When the dust settles, what will be the core, the kernel, the essence of Remember Me’s legacy? Remember Me is a film about legacy: Ally’s Mom’s legacy; Michael’s legacy; Tyler’s legacy; and that of 9/11. Thematically, it is suffused with legacy.

Immediate Impact
The ‘prologue’ grabs you right from the beginning.
The first scene—Tyler’s apartment—eases you into the narrative skilfully.
The climax tears you forcefully away.
The epilogue—the requiem montage—begins the next journey.
So, from beginning to end you are engaged.

The prologue scene, the murder of Ally’s mother, grabs you immediately. Yes, it’s the unexpected violence, but it has been presented skilfully. We see the relationship between mother and daughter right away and then know the husband’s pain as the scene closes. A combination of fine acting, cinematography, music, and craftsmanship has done its work. We’re there.

This is followed by the first scene, the introduction to Tyler’s life, ’10 years later’. After the violence and sadness of the prologue has caught our attention, this scene subtly eases us into the main story. The phone is ringing quietly and the music is gentle as we travel through the apartment to observe Tyler’s form partially visible on the fire escape.

The cinematography here is masterful, both in concept and execution. We inhabit Tyler’s domicile right away, move through it to meet him as he enters from the other side. This scene is genius.

Tyler adjusts his ears to verify the sound of the phone, his face and form evident to us in increments. Then he gingerly repositions cigarette and beer bottle.

All this care has aroused our curiosity even before he stumbles, then slowly, carefully, leans across the bed to reach for the phone yet leave the girl in the bed undisturbed.

He answers with a soft voice and before we know it we see him walking up the hill to meet his family at the grave site. By the time family dynamics are played out in the sweets shop we are trapped in the Hawkins’ gossamer net, drawn irrevocably into Tyler’s life.

The journey from there to his death keeps our emotions so engaged that we soon feel related to these characters. Then the tether snaps, breaking the connection; it is taken away. After allowing us in, it destroys. And so we come to the epilogue, the end. We do not want to let go but we have no choice since we have been torn away. It is shocking.

After that we have to deal with being torn away. And so, in the process of ‘dealing’, a number of things happen—some all at once and some linger to be dealt with later—things which, taken together, are rare when responding to a film.

In Part Two, I will show how we deal, and in the process, try to articulate what I feel to be Remember Me’s legacy.
I will talk about how significant legacies find:
A Place in the Mind.
A Place in the Heart.
A Place in the Memory.


Sources for comments: Various RM spoiler posts (March and April).
IMDb Robert Pattinson message board: Some Love for Remember Me(Oct. 15).

“Reacting to Remember Me: an Interview with Screenwriter Will Fetters”, by Brad Brevet. March 16, 2010. Ropes of
Sources for figures:
Box Office


Anonymous said...

I love this. Just beautiful. You are quite right- I said Oscar-worthy very early on (when the trailer came out, or possibly before) and got some very strange looks. I felt I was vindicated when I saw the film.
I have talked with a lot of people who have seen it: non-fandom people; teenagers; random viewers who were at any of the five showings I attended. Some were saddened, others angry, but none of them were unmoved. This film affects everyone who sees it, in one way or another, and often in several ways, as they process it in the days afterward.
It only improves upon re-visiting. I would dare call it a masterpiece of cinema, and if it isn't included in the Oscars this year, it will be a monstrous snub. However, it will, I agree, be considered a classic, and I'm certain it will be studied in film classes for decades to come.

Jackie Marelle said...

Thank you so much for this article...Remember Me touched me in so many ways. It was a truly remarkable film and one which will definately stand the test of time. A cult movie at the very least, like so many other wonderful movies which were not given the acclaim they deserved....This, i feel, will remain among Robert Pattinson's best work in what is bound to be a long and incredible career journey. The cinematography is excellent and the beautiful theme tune "Wake up call" by Marcelo Zarvos is so very moving. A wonderful, wonderful classic film to be loved for years to come.

Anonymous said...

thanks for a great article...RM is extremely underrated movie: very powerful drama with good lessons...Critics were blind reviewing it...i think they will eat their words soon

Anonymous said...

Critics to me are generally middle age, boring and unattractive. They have always had a prejudice against good-looking and talented actors. I mean in the beginning Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Pitt, they gave them all a hard time. I think it makes them feel good about themselves. The Oscars do the same thing. The women usually have to play some boring drama role where they make themselves very ugly or less attractive to win the Oscar. Hello Hallie and Charlize. I find the whole thing so stupid which is why I DO NOT watch award shows. In addition to the fact that they are super boring. I mean Oscars has 6,000 members and each vote for their category. Of course with 50 million entertainment shows, none can tell you who these people are & how many belong in each category. So that's a pretty small elite group of people in the industry kissing their own asses every year, and Nobody does it better.

I loved loved loved the original script(that was before Scummit got their manipulative Twilight hands on it). It packed so much more emotion. I Liked the film. That's what happened when you have something in your head one way and you see somthing entirely different on screen. I thought the actors did a great job. I could not understand the critics' attacks either, but I totally got their nastiness toward Rob, cause they are predictable that way. Will it win award? Don't think so. Let's face it America is now own by a handfull of people, which means all these media and studios are entertwined. So once they've ganged up on you, it's hard to come out of that. Will it be remembered? Hope so.

PS you always write great article about this movie. You must really love it.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this article written about RM so much-when I saw it I thought it was a beautiful movie yet very sad-it was filled with so many emotions-love,anger,happiness-the acting was so excellent-Rob played the part of Tyler so well-I believe he proved to everyone even when the Twilight Saga is over he will continue to be an extraordinary Actor in any type of movie he performs in-he has the ability to go so far with his career-Twilight started it all for him but RM put him in a totally different catagory-showed how very talented he is-all who starred in RM did an excellent job but Rob was brillant-I have the DVD & have watched it many times-each time I do it touches my heart in so many ways & YES-at the end I always cry-not only for the loss of such an incredible person Rob portrayed but all the horrible memories it brought back to me when this really did happen-do I think it will become a classic one day-absolutely-do I believe it is Oscar worthy-especially with Rob's performance-definitely!-I believe I am a good judge & also a critic when it comes to movies to be remembered for all times & I know RM should be one of them-it was one of the best I have ever seen & I really loved it very much.Thankyou so much for writing such a wonderful article about RM.& for believing in this remarkable movie as I & so many others did.

Anonymous said...

Definitely the movie RememberMe you will always be in my heart is a beautiful film that will never forget, thanks again for posting this article.

I am MKMovies en Imdb
En twitter estoy RPattzVzlaFans

WhyIstheRumAlwaysGone said...

Thanks for this great article, I am amazed by the in-depth research you've done and the all the insight you give us... I need some time to think about it and digest all the ideas ;) but I'll be sure to come back and comment.. thanks for all you're doing for RM.

Anonymous said...

Thanks beginning to think that was the only one who did not understand the critics, I have seen it several times and each time I find something, (a gesture, a smile, a scene) which I like more, Robert makes us believe the character from beginning to end, if it is true that others do, that it wrapped, but he carries the weight of all frames is the union, which makes everything else credible, for a long time a movie made me laugh, dream , mourn, all in 1.50 minutes or menos.Espero that eventually recognized as a great movie

solas said...

Thank you once again for writing and for championing this film. I know little about films and their process, even less of Oscars and other awards; in general I don't watch the award shows (but I might if someone worth watching is on). What I DO know a bit about is human behaviour and thought processes, and I am increasingly disgusted with the mentality (or lack thereof) that is obvious in the film choices of mindless sheep who chant in unison: '3D and cgi and explosions good; reading and thinking and insight bad.' I am hoping there will be if not a smart little sheepdog that pushes the crazed zombie-sheep over a cliff, then at least an uprising of insight any day now, and that is when REmember Me will be unearthed and appreciated.

jessegirl said...

Thanks MKMovies, for your support. The other place contains many callous people who haven't a clue what I'm about.

And Solas, Rum, *hugs*.

LTavares2010 said...

The Legacy of Remember Me: Part One

Oscars and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Your insight is very interesting and I would like to add that in my opinion Summit did not make a good work in the release of the film, probably because they know that Rob would be the most favored person in case of success of the film. He is becoming a huge star in Hollywood and his solo career is not interesting to Summit, as we can observe in all the news reported by some part of press everyday. Marketing is a powerful tool and although the film has a good writer, an excellent director and an amazing cast, Summit did not give to Remember Me the same treatment they give to the Twilight Saga.
About possible nominations? Just look at what happened to "The Hurt Locker", another Summit production. The film had a bad release too and if it was not for some people it would not be remembered for nobody, Bigellow would not be the first woman to win an Oscar as director, the film would not win and Jeremy Renner would not have the recognition he has nowadays.

Critical Acclaim

Points well remembered for you. Yes, I am one of these people who think that in a near future the film will have the credit that it deserves, because of two special reasons: Rob and Allen Coulter. For me it is a question of time that Robert Pattinson will have the recognition as actor that he is deserving, he needs more experience, maturity and most of all he needs more important people by his side to make the world realize how good he is . Allen Coulter is already a very good director, but he is still very discreet professionally.
And when the time come, the critics will write things like " Oh, Mr. Pattinson was not that bad in Remember Me", " His performance was so sincere" or " Allen Coulter, oh, I always thought he was the best, Remember Me was wronged in the past".
I have already seen "this film" before, many, many times.

Classic and legacy

I agree again that Remember Me is a classic because it has all the ingredients necessary to make a very good film and it is a very good film. Remember Me has many details to be watched and discussed. The film never ends in itself, there is always something to say about the characters, the photography, the scenarios, the actings, the choices of the director.

Jesse, Your article is very insightful and points out many issues, which discussions can be extended in the future.
Once you have a little more time I'll read the second part.
Sorry for my English.

Anonymous said...

I loved this movie. RM really great, grat movie and Robert was super. good for him.
good article.
hope all the people recognize that this is a great movie.

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the post but I just want to add that I thought for sure Remember Me would get recognition! Like a few for supporting actors, all were worthy, esp. in the boardroom "the sit down and shut up scene" per dad was spot on.The best friend was another appearance that just kept getting better and better with each scene.
I know I can't be wrong, so therefore I believe as you it's the critics review that is misguided.
Time for a change to portray what people are really feeling and not what the money is feeling or saying!!! I don't know Hollywood, so maybe my thoughts don't align with theirs.
good job Jessie.

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