by David Christopher Bell
Life comes before art, always. When life is lost – the first priority is the people who were most affected by it, and being respectful of the loss they had to endure. Because of this, the upcoming film Gangster Squad has opted to possibly eliminate or re-shoot an entire scene that touches a little too close to the heartbreak which occurred last week in Aurora, Colorado.
It is a difficult situation that you can look at from two very different perspectives, both of which are quite valid. The first is the aforementioned need for respect, which does take precedence over everything else. However there is also the need to carry on, to not let a singular son of a bitch affect our lives so much that we’re completely submitting to the melancholy to the point of letting it win the day.
That said – it’s just a movie, and it can be changed. After all, it’s happened before…
7. Neighborhood Watch changes it advertising/name after the shooting of Trayvon Martin
Neighborhood Watch, or The Watch as it is now called, is an interesting case of a film studio distancing itself from an event that it has no real connection to. The film is a comedy about aliens, nothing more – however because of the recent shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a member of a neighborhood watch group, the filmmakers decided to adjust it’s name accordingly as well as pull many of their ads for the film.
Considering the small amount of hype for the film to begin with, as well as the mountains of debate concerning gun control and race that came from the terrible death – this has to be the least interesting thing to come out of the Trayvon Martin story, and was probably unnecessary to begin with. After all, there were much bigger fish to fry when it came to the public discourse.
6. Bruno cuts Michael Jackson jokes hours before premiere
Despite being a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen’s previous work, I just never felt enough enthusiasm for this film to actually put in the effort of watching it – so I can’t make any judgment calls about its quality. However, from my own disinterest and also what I’ve heard from others, it’s probably a good thing that they went ahead and cut out a scene where Bruno mocks LaToya Jackson. After all – the movie came out after her brother had just died, and no joke is worth that kind of cruelty – especially one that might fall short to begin with.
Also – he had literally just died. As in, the same day of the Hollywood premiere. The filmmakers were forced to scramble mere hours before the movie was to screen in order to make the cuts. No doubt many of the people involved in the film had very little knowledge of what happened until they saw the film for themselves, which was probably more of a relief than anything else.
That being said – the scene did include LaToya eating sushi off of the body of a naked Mexican guy, which is pretty darn amazing.
5. Freddy’s character changed in Nightmare on Elm Street due to child abuse cases
When the recent remake of the classic Nightmare On Elm Street came out there was a bit of a debate about changing Freddy Krueger from a straight up cold-blooded child murderer to an accused child molester. Some people argued that it would take away from the character to give him a more ambiguous guilt like that, however the truth is that this was how Wes Craven himself originally envisioned Freddy back when the original was being written.
Turns out that at the time of this film’s conception – there was a bit of a panic going around concerning day care providers and stories of satanic-style ritualistic abuse. The most notable one, the one that started it all, was the Kern County incident that led to 36 people getting convicted. The crazy part is that out of those 36, 34 of them were overturned. It turns out that through the hysteria there had been a lot of false accusations – not unlike the situation in the new film. As recently as 2004 there have been victims coming forward to confess that they falsely testified against the accused during this time.
4. Dr. Strangelove delayed and altered following John F. Kennedy’s assassination
There’s a lot of lore surrounding the famous alternate ending of this film. The idea was that all the world leaders in the war room would devolve their bickering and debate into an over the top pie-fight – so as to symbolize the idea of nuclear warfare. The analogy is great, as in the end no one wins, but everyone is equally doused in their own mess. The story goes that the actors just couldn’t keep it together during the filming of the scene, which resulted in a lot of laughter. While that might have been a factor for the finale, there was also the fact that this film was to be release at the same time that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas.
In fact – at one point in the film actor Slim Pickens, concerning an emergency kit, remarks “a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff!” After the assassination they made sure to change “Dallas” to “Vegas” out of respect. There was also a line in the pie fight where the president is hit in the face and Turgidson declares that their “gallant young president has been struck down in his prime!” which also never made the cut for obvious reasons.
3. Countless Films After 9/11
The September 11 attacks were so horrific that the ripple effect they had on the world can still be felt today. Everything changed, Hollywood included. As The Onion put it not long after the event – American life had become “A Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie”.
It was true, suddenly all the stuff we took for granted in films – the mass destruction and death – became all too real. Suddenly we had to re-think the way our films would handle such terror. Countless films were delayed and changed – a debate about whether or not we should remove the towers from current films surfaced. While films like Zoolander and Spider-Man decided to remove the buildings out of respect, other films like Vanilla Sky and Gangs Of New York kept them in out of pride.
Terrorism in general became an issue as films like The Bourne Identity had to be edited to downplay this aspect of the film, and Collateral Damage and Big Trouble were delayed because of it. Men In Black II had to completely reshoot its ending that had originally taken place at the World Trade Center.
In fact, there was even an entire movie that never got made because of this…
2. Jackie Chan film Nosebleed completely cancelled after 9/11
This is pretty nuts, but it turns out that around the same time as the September 11th attacks there was also a Jackie Chan film that was going to be shot at the towers. While there’s a rumor that they were supposed to shoot the day of the incident, that has since been proven wrong. However it is true that the film was about to undergo production.
So what was this film? It was called Nosebleed and it was about a window washer at the World Trade Center played by Chan who would have to fight back against a group of terrorists determined to blow up the Statue Of Liberty. It was rumored that blowing up the WTC itself had also been in the script.
The film was, of course, cancelled.
1. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus writes around Ledger’s death
While to his friends and family the sadness for Heath Ledger’s passing is derived unmistakably from the loss of someone close, to fans that pain came from a different source. While nowhere as painful as it must be to lose a friend or family member, seeing the man go was like seeing a masterpiece painting torn to shreds. After seeing his performance in The Dark Knight, all we knew was his talent – and that talent was gone now.
This is why the changes made to The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is unlike the other changes on this list – it wasn’t done to hide a tragic loss but rather to enable us to celebrate something lost one last time. The film was half-completed at the time, and it appeared that the film was to be permanently shelved. However Terry Gilliam is a man known for overcoming ridiculous obstacles in order to get a film done, and the film continued on with three close friends of Ledger filling in the role.
Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all passed their wages earned from this film to Ledger’s daughter. They weren’t there for the money; they were there because they were emotionally invested – something Gilliam ensured by turning down willing actors like Tom Cruise because he didn’t personally know Heath Ledger. The point wasn’t to mend a product and make up for losses – it was to give the audience one last performance. It was a bittersweet tribute to a loss, the credits identifying itself as “A film from Heath Ledger and friends.”