Film Comparison Of The 1962 And 1991 Version's Of Cape Fear Term Paper

Length: 3 pages Subject: Film Type: Term Paper Paper: #2810931 Related Topics: Stalking, Movie, Film, Infidelity
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Cape Fear, Then and Now Martin Scorsese's 1991 remake of the 1962 classic Cape Fear offers superb opportunities to compare American culture and values in two vastly different eras separated by a mere 29 years. The 1962 classic, directed by J. Lee Thompson, coming out of the pure and innocent '50s, was simple, straightforward and scary. Scorsese's version is more complex, sophisticated and possibly less scary, because the contemporary world itself is so much more threatening and the contrast between screen and real life is less divergent and less shocking. Scorsese in remaking Cape Fear was making a commercial thriller, adding themes of personal and contemporary significance, contributing his own directorial elements, and creating a tribute to the original.

Technical differences between the two films are most obvious since the original, filmed in shadowy black and white noir style, differs notably to the clear imaged, visual intensity of the widescreen color version which employs spinning shots, deep focus, multiple camera angles, fast cutting, zooming in for dramatic effect and fading to negative or one-color effects to heighten tension and fear. In the remake, obviously highly budgeted compared to original, Scorsese offers a style reminiscent of early technicolor films by using intense colors as seen in the atmosphere of dramatic cars and clothing around the De Niro character. The same dramatic music, composed for the original by Bernard Herrmann, reorchestrated by Elmer Bernstein, gives the modern film an old fashioned feeling, adding to the viewers consciousness of this film as tribute to an earlier genre. Every subtle detail in the original was designed to build suspense and terror. The modern version, in no way subtle, adds the additional element of commenting on the original.

The original Cape Fear reflects a much more innocent America of the 50's. The Scorsese version invokes a more complex world in which the separation between good and evil is not so clear and concise. Differences in plot and character reflect differences in cultures. The plot is rewritten to include modern themes such as themes of guilt, suffering, sacrifice,...


In the original, the Bowdens were a perfect, contented, untroubled, smiling '50s family. In the remake, the family is deeply tormented and dysfunctional, largely due to the husband's shaky morality of dishonesty and infidelity. The character of Sam Bowden as played by Nick Nolte is a much different man than the one played by Gregory Peck. As played by Peck, Sam Bowden was a good and honest family man, who discovered his more savage instincts only when forced to confront evil and protect his beloved family against a psychopath. Peck's self-righteous goodness as he confronts evil, contrasts strongly with Nolte's Sam Bowden, who is far from good himself. Nolte's Bowden looks respectable on the surface, but underneath is far from perfect. He represents contemporary morality, behind a polished facade, damaged, guilty, irrational, impulsive, creator of his own demons. Peck's Bowden represents goodness forced to battle evil on evil's terms. Nolte is more of an anti-hero, as if De Niro's character surfaces to make Bowden face his own inner paradoxes. The viewer, aware of Bowden's psychological quirks is not sure that he is much better than the psychopathic villain. Bowden, in Scorsese's version, turns quickly to illegal measures to try to stop Cady's threats. His easy connections with the scummy underworld seem meant to show that Bowden is an extremely flawed character. This switch from the Peck character demonstrates the changed moral atmosphere of the times. Bowden never seems like a desperate man fighting against evil to save his loved ones, but rather just a desperate to save his own skin from the rotten decay he himself created. This is the essential difference in the moral climate of the times. Using Gregory Peck in the cameo role of De Niro's respected yet deceitful lawyer is a touch intended by Scorsese to point up the comparison of the earlier simpler era complex darker times.

A major difference between the two versions is seen in the female…

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