Why on Earth is Lee Daniels Remaking Fellini's 'Nights of Cabiria'?
by Ethan Anderton
December 7, 2010
While a recent article at Deadline has confirmed that The Butler, starring Denzel Washington as real-life White House butler Eugene Allen, will be the next film from Precious director Lee Daniels, some much more disturbing news of his future slate is mentioned ever so briefly. Daniels just recently switched his talent agency from Creative Artists Agency to William Morris Endeavor, but before he left, the lovely folks at WME had closed a deal for the filmmaker to remake Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria, the 1957 film which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Do you hear that? That's the sound of Lee Daniels losing every ounce of my respect.
So Daniels gets a Best Director nomination aside from the fact that his work on Precious was dull, and uninspiring, unlike the story that actually drove the film to the Oscars, and now he thinks he can remake a Best Foreign Film winner from one of the most iconic Italian filmmakers in cinema's history? I'm sorry, Mr. Daniels, but you are no Federico Fellini, and Precious (which was only your second film) is far from being a masterpiece. Daniels has no subtlety, unique visual style or one ounce of abstract story telling in his bones (from what we've seen so far) and that makes him the least qualified director to remake a film like this (which shouldn't be remade in the first place).
As for Nights of Cabiria itself, it's one of Fellini's finest works and if you haven't had the pleasure of seeing it, then you're missing out completely. The film features Fellini's wife Giulietta Masina as a wide-eyed, naive prostitute walking the streets of Rome as she looks for true love, but consistently finds heartbreak. Chock full of silly humor contrasted with stark tragedy, the film is a must-see for any film connoisseur or student of cinema. And now it's in the hands of Lee Daniels. The Playlist (who noticed the news bit in the otherwise boring report) seems to have a slight glimmer of hope in their mention that for Bob Fosse‘s classic musical Sweet Charity was based on Nights of Cabiria and that "still worked out." However, I really don't care to see Daniels version of the story, which will most likely be tailored to his core audience. Anyone else mad about this?
Leave Fellini alone...and Precious was just a sick movie. In a bad way.
Ambient on Dec 7, 2010
mehran on Dec 7, 2010
I don't think you could even attempt to recreate this movie, especially that ending with Giulietta Masina looking straight into the camera - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0Vsa-ognSM
kevinoshea on Dec 7, 2010
We look forward to Tyler Perry's remake of L'Avventura.
JimVB on Dec 7, 2010
ahh a bashing post pathetic
nelson on Dec 7, 2010
Nights Of Cabiria is one of my favorite films from one of my favorite directors. I saw Precious and was not very impressed with the direction. I found it uneven and often hammy but occasionally pretty good. I have never seen Sweet Charity, so the fact that that film was made does not detract from my enjoyment of Fellini's Le Notti di Cabiria in any way. As long as Daniels does not call his film "Nights Of Cabiria" (which I doubt that he will), I think the legacy of the great Fellini classic is secure.
David on Dec 7, 2010
Nights of Cabiria is a truly wonderful film. DEFINITELY A FILM THAT NEVER GETS TO BE REMADE. IT IS PERFECT ON IT'S OWN and ANY ATTEMPT TO "RE-MAKE or RE-IMAGINE IT" for some stupid urban audience will only sully Fellini and what Fellini has done for cinema.
LINKFX on Dec 7, 2010
Jeez. I thought Precious was an incredible movie and Lee Daniels did an incredible job, but remaking a movie like Nights of Cabiria? That's not for him nor for anyone. I could see a story inspired by it but a flat-out remake? Not fond of the idea. I'd like for Daniels to go ahead and make Selma. That sounded like it would be a good choice for this next film.
Andy on Dec 7, 2010
WOW! Talk about throwing a director under the bus!!lol! Look Daniels is a talented filmmaker, most of them are, we shouldn't talk down on him because some studio gave him this project! It's not like he went out of his way to look to remake this film. People didn't want Matt Reeves to direct the remake to LTROI, but he nailed it out of the park! So we'll just have to wait and see how it goes, but we shouldn't bash the guy for his previous work.
jah p on Dec 7, 2010
Can't wait to see his pandering, snap-zoom-filled take on a masterpiece.
Shane on Dec 7, 2010
Nights of Cabiria has already been remade, into a musical, called Sweet Charity which was also made into a movie, directed by the great Bob Fosse. I think that's more of a travesty than judging a whole project based on one line you read in Deadline. Lee Daniels is a great, great director and his work on Precious is fantastic. You may think a lot of what he did was over-the-top, but if you've read the book, he was less over-the-top than that and the subtleties that he able to bring out of his actors was unrivaled last year. It seems that the new trend of remaking "good" films is to put them in the hands of capable directors (Reeves, Fincher) and letting them reinterpret in their own way. I'm not saying it's a great idea, but how about you let more than one line you read in an article create your whole fucking opinion. You are a journalist remember?
Max on Dec 7, 2010
"Nights of Cabiria" ain't no "La Strada", or even a "Juliet of the Spirits" for that matter. The ending is the best thing about it, otherwise it's a mixed bag. Why not remake it? Remakes of older foreign films produce varied, yet generally amusing results. (e.g. "Chloe in the Afternoon" into "I Think I Love My Wife") I'll check this out.
Dave on Dec 7, 2010
I get it, Ethan: Classics shouldn't be touched. But is there a way to give "movie news and updates" without totally lynching Lee Daniels? This was borderline angryblog-ish, man.
Cracky on Dec 7, 2010
@ Cracky, wow....nice lynching comment, you went there...kind of inappropriately extreme and insensitive wouldn't you say? I mean I don't think Ethan was suggesting we all dress up in our Klux Whites and go burn a cross in front of his house, too....
LINKFX on Dec 7, 2010
Fucking lol'd. Take it how you want LINKFX. The internet is a wonderful place.
Cracky on Dec 7, 2010
Somebody actually read Push, by Sapphire, and admit to it?
JimVB on Dec 7, 2010
I'm against remakes in general, but Fellini? No. Leave Italian cinema alone.
Al on Dec 7, 2010
Casting Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Mo'nique, and a no-name first-time actress was one of the riskiest decisions made in recent memory and I guarantee you he worked on a daily basis to bring those performances out of the mostly non-actors (or at least, non-dramatic actors.) Also, I think it's pretty offensive saying that it "will most likely be tailored to his core audience." That's like implying because he made one film about the struggle of one black girls life, he's unable to make a film that appeals to a broader audience (though I think the themes in Precious can resonate with just about anyone.) He has made Shadowboxer, which doesn't cater to the same audience as Precious, and he produced Monster's Ball, which is the same case. Directors are capable of creating different works that exist for different people. Also, I think Shadowboxer, while not the best movie, shows that he is a director with a solid visual style. I still think Precious has a great visual style, whether in flashbacks or other, but I think it also tries to focus more on characters, because it is a very character-driven piece.
Max on Dec 7, 2010
I'm with Max on this one, "will most likely be tailored to his core audience," does seem borderline racist and narrowminded and pretty presumptuous that he has a specific audience considering his two films. And if you didn't mean "black audience" is sure does lean that way. In contrast I would say that Precious takes to more realism rather than creativity. Not every movie, story, etc has to have a some sort of elaborate go round, the story itself can be enough. Daniels seems to have captured the subtleies of the black and urban areas well. And it is very character driven...
KR on Dec 7, 2010
The FSN cast HATES to be hated. Ha! No, but, seriously, bad form in writing here....TOO scathing. Whatever.... Ethan, I will agree that this seems RIDICULOUS, but who are YOU? Lets say you (somehow) write for Variety, or likewise, and people associate you for some piddly movie blog to discredit your move to a more notable rag?....Wont you want them to give you a chance? Some bigwig on this site once told me that the story is worth judging for itself in person more than speculation outside and that cant be done until you see the movie. Damned if people didnt scoff at Baz's modern R&J take....Lesson: there will ALWAYS be haters. Dont join them just to encite them....embrace the unpredictability of uneleased cinema and let us terrible commentators throw people under the bus instead.
Voice of Reason on Dec 7, 2010
Let's just agree to disagree. I respect your opinion, I just hope that we can look at movies, especially ones by directors who embody the better things about filmmaking, with a more open mind. Good remakes, when put in the hands of capable directors, do exist. I'll just name Ocean's 11, The Fly, The Thing, The Departed, True Lies, 3:10 to Yuma as a few. Also, the funny thing about Precious, it was hated by a lot of the black community and loved by the white community. Blacks thinking it just showed racial stereotypes onscreen compared it to the likes of Birth of a Nation and the white's latched onto it, claiming there were "Preciouses all around us." Some fulfillment of white guilt. It was a dividing film that had fans and critics of all races. It fared well in the Oscars, where every governor of AMPAS is white and the voting body possesses the diversity of Alabama 40 years ago. So I think any niche audience claimed for Precious is assumed at best. Just food for thought.
Max on Dec 7, 2010
You're a gentleman and a scholar. P.S. Hope that twitter post about internet douchebags wasn't about me.
Max on Dec 8, 2010
SON OF A BITCH, then again I think I would say that to anyone who was going to remake it. What a scumbag....
DiR3cT on Dec 8, 2010
"So Daniels gets a Best Director nomination aside from the fact that his work on Precious was dull" So like 80% of Oscar nominees?
Anonymous on May 13, 2011
By definition a classic is something that can never again be achieved. Le Notti Di Cabiria is a classic. Any attempt at a remake is just crass narcissism.
PJ on Sep 10, 2011
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