Posted in Film, Writing

How to Reimagine Classic Stories as a Contemporary Writer

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It can be difficult to pinpoint the five best movies made about The Crusades.. There have been few films made about the Crusades, but the best include a film dating back all the way to the 1930’, a Kevin Costner action adventure from the 1990s, and a director’s cut of a more recent film directed by Ridley Scott. Here are the five best movies about the Crusades…

5. Saladin (1963)

Also known as Saladin and the Great Crusades, as well as El Naser Salah el Dine, this Egyptian film from the 1960’s is a must-see foreign film that shows Salah al-Din for the man he was, one of the greatest leaders in history. The film was directed by Youssef Chahine and stars Ahmed Mazhar as Saladin.

4. King Richard and the Crusaders (1954)

This film has an all-star cast including Rex Harrison as Emir Hderim Sultan Saladin and Virginia Mayo as Lady Edith Plantagenet. Based on the novel The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott, the David Butler-directed film is gloriously exciting and entertaining.

3. The Crusades (1935)

Cecil B. DeMille, who would go on to make such famous epics as The Ten Commandments and The Greatest Show on Earth, directed this picture starring Loretta Young as Berengaria, Princess of Navarre, and Henry Wilcoxon as Richard, King of England. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and looks amazing for such an old-time movie.

2. Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut (2005)

The terrific film released in May 2005 to movie theatres nationwide was only a part of the great vision director Ridley Scott had for this incredible story. The Director’s Cut, released on DVD in 2007, presents Scott’s epic the way it was meant to be seen. Orlando Bloom stars as Balian de Ibelin, as he travels to Jerusalem during the Crusades to find himself the ultimate defender of his city and people. While some director’s cut only change a few brief moments in the film, this immensely different cut is a completely different film and is in every way a better movie.

1. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

This acclaimed blockbuster from 1991, starring such heavyweights as Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Rickman, tells the story of Robin Hood coming to England and fighting against the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Kevin Reynolds, who would go on to direct the equally thrilling old-school epic The Count of Monte Cristo, keeps things moving at a brisk pace and allows for dynamic action scenes, as well as plenty of romance, throughout the engaging film.

Watching Like a Writer

There have been a lot of Robin Hood reimaginings over the years. The 2010 film starring Russell Crowe, and the latest opening in theaters this month. The 1991 version starring Kevin Costner holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first films I saw as a child that genuinely frightened me. I think it was accidentally left playing on the TV one night, and something about its menace and realism really freaked me out. What all these Robin Hood films make me think about is taking a story we all know like Robin Hood and doing something new with it that still stays true to the original story but also gives us something about the story we’ve never seen before. I would love to tackle a Robin Hood story one day, and looking at these newer versions are great ways to get ideas for new concepts and points of view.

Exercise!

Pitch me a one-sentence logline about your potential reimagining of Robin Hood. How would your version stay true to the classic story and yet do something brand new?

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