Nightmare Alley’s Too Much

When it comes to playful gods In the field of modern filmmaking, you would hardly name anyone more fanatical about their source material than Peter Jackson or Guillermo del Toro.

Naturally, the pair have had some overlap for years: Del Toro was even slated to make a Jackson-produced film adaptation. Hobbits, only to get out and confirm Jackson directed it on his behalf. “I, like any other enthusiast, really want to see Peter in action,” del Toro said MTV, only to later grant his wish. Del Toro, meanwhile, went on to win an Oscar for directing Shape of water to replace.

Now del Toro has unexpectedly – perhaps even accidentally – returned to Jackson territory with his new film, Nightmare Alley, out Friday. Although Nightmare Alley less than Jackson’s Hobbit and more than three hours of Jackson King Kong since 2005: As with Kong, there was an earlier, much-loved version of Nightmare Alley out there (although a lesser-known classic than the great ape). Just like Jackson’s Kong, del Toro’s Nightmare Alley is an oddly specific act of fandom, one that has the power to expand on previous work, if not exactly frustrate old images for new viewers, at least unintentionally making the image appear thinner and more modest than it actually is.

Released in 1947, original Nightmare Alley (stream on the Criterion Channel) is a noir directed by Edmund Goulding and starring Tyrone Power as an aspiring cannibal who embeds himself in an unethical scheme to trick a rich old man into believing he can communicate with the dead. Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley set in the same time period as the original film, but – again borrowed a page from Jackson’s King Kong – it is manufactured with a modern look and extended runtime. This strategy also hints at recent remakes like Steven Spielberg West story or Disney’s live-action remake series, all of which aim to welcome modern audiences to well-known old works they might otherwise dismiss as being too outdated.

To be fair, del Toro’s Nightmare Alley technically not a remake; Reliable source material is the 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel that also inspired the 1947 film. But at least, both films are close enough to the book that they share most of the plot points. the same story and even the same dialogue. The 2021 version will be received as a remake, even if that’s not del Toro’s main goal.

On those terms, del Toro’s Nightmare both faithful to the spirit of the previous film, while enamored with its own 21st-century beauty. More than the movie before it, it’s filled with atmosphere, especially in its early carnival scenes. Both films travel from the carnival grounds to a more opulent urban environment, where actor Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper in the new film) and his partner Molly (Rooney Mara) perform the disorderly action. their psyche. The film then moves into a noir phase when a fat girl (Cate Blanchett) convinces Stan to use her staging abilities to trick a desperate old man (Richard Jenkins). But while the years 1947 Nightmare extended to an entire era – 110 minutes, when many similar films in the genre reach close to 85 – the 2021 version continues to be more than a full half hour long.

However, the actual plots are not so different despite their different runtimes. Del Toro’s version mostly just adds a longer plot and staging, spends more time with other friends, and then adds some of the sex and violence not allowed in the ’47 version – along with a more scene (and, to be honest, superior) ending. Sometimes, this Nightmare Alley feels more detailed, with its star-studded cast and unsettling glimpses into the psyche of its cold, seemingly immoral protagonist. But watching it alongside the older film makes it clear just how overkill the new one is. The 1947 version tells the same story in less time, with less fuss – and less gore, if you mind that.

However, the excess of Nightmare Alley also makes it worth watching. Despite its prestigious visual release, it has much in common with del Toro’s more genre films such as Crimson Peak. While it never jumps straight into the magic, it’s akin to a creature trait you can get with an all-human, creature-free cast. Those who saw the first 2021 version may find the 1947 version truncated despite its economy, as well as those who know the previous film may find the later version a tedious reminder. , despite its apparent current production value.

Atmosphere aside, though, it’s hard to work out why del Toro and his co-screenwriter Kim Morgan wanted to tell the story. this specific story. There are certainly echoes in a story about an unrepentant quack ruined by greed, but that also shows up in the old movie and unlike the recent one. West story, this screenplay doesn’t involve many contemporary themes; it’s too engrossed in recreating a highly horrendous dream state. Maybe this is a more obscure version of something like Ghostbusters: Afterlife or this week Spider-Man: There’s no way home, pay a clear (and sometimes unnecessarily unnecessarily) homage to their blockbuster ancestors.

If that’s the case, at least Nightmare Alley have a cultural memory that stretches back to after 1982 or so. It may feel caricature and self-conscious compared to the 1947 film, but del Toro’s apparent love of his source material also makes you excuse its needless grandeur.

And best of all, that means Nightmare Alley exactly as it should be: like watching an unrevealed classic through someone else’s passionate eyes. Nightmare Alley’s Too Much


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