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DID YOU READ

Martin Campbell’s short memory about “Edge of Darkness.”

Martin Campbell’s short memory about “Edge of Darkness.” (photo)

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The number of Americans who know that “Edge of Darkness” — this Friday’s Mel Gibson-vs. everyone conspiracy actionfest — is actually a remake of a beloved landmark BBC miniseries is very small; almost no one I’ve talked to who wasn’t working press was aware of it (not even some of the latter knew; then again, I’m one of those pesky Anglophiles). Fewer still, I imagine, will realize that director Martin Campbell directed the original as well, which is some kind of benchmark. There’s a few cases of directors tackling their own work again, but generally within the same medium (Hitchcock’s two versions of “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” the Dutch original and American remake of “The Vanishing”). But this is a whole other animal: the compression of five hours into two, 25 years later. As far as I know, there’s no precedent for it.

And apparently, it’s been long enough ago for Campbell to forget a few things about the original. In an interview with CanMag, Campbell said that a scene in which Gibson puts shaving cream on his young daughter “was entirely Mel’s idea […] a scene that Mel improvised with the little girl.” Well no, it wasn’t: it’s one of the very few scenes the remake takes intact from the original, so I guess Gibson remembers the original better than its director.

Now, I know I’m being petty asking Campbell to recall the exactitudes of a production from 25 years ago, but there are a few things he’s wrong about, and they’re kind of crucial. Speaking of his style on the original to ComingSoon.net‘s Edward Douglas, he notes: “I hope I shot the film fairly simply. I didn’t try to do anything pretentious with the way it was shot.” Well, he didn’t. 1985’s “Darkness” won’t be winning awards for convoluted mise-en-scène anytime soon, but it’s far from straightforward. In moments of chasing and running, Campbell tends to put some kind of major obstruction in the foreground to block off space; you can see the directions people are running in and in what order, but you can’t really see where they’re going or, sometimes, who’s pursuing who. He does stuff like this over and over for four episodes, visualizing the confusion of a script that’s already plenty confusing just in outline (until suddenly, in episode five, we’ve put together pretty much all the pieces and it’s time to get on with the chases and speechifying).

01272010_edgepeck.jpgThe other thing’s a little odder. The original version is nothing if not a creature of its time, full of era-specific Thatcherite politics and a very real concern with nuclear weapons. But the “Edge of Darkness” remake has generic politics: without spoilers, what it comes up with could be plausible only to your most unshakeable 9/11-truther. Which is fine: the politics here are a pretext rather than a raison d’être. But Campbell kicks it up a notch in an interview with The Guardian: “None of that mid-’80s stuff is scary anymore. It’s like everyone has plutonium in their back garden now.” Again please? The fact that plutonium isn’t in the hands of potentially mendacious industrialists but in everyone‘s is less scary…how?

Campbell is probably perfectly sincere when he claims “I liked the emotional story, from the original, of Craven losing his daughter. That side of the story is what I loved. The political story didn’t really interest me anymore.” That’s his right. But in a remake that, quite frankly, could use a lot more Gibson-on-anyone violence and a lot less in the way of generic father-daughter bits, it’s a bit inexplicable. And it’s forgetful of what Campbell brought to the original series: not just competently helming a fascinating teleplay that leveled the personal and political (not in the usual facile sense either), but complementing it visually.

[Photos: “Edge of Darkness,” Warner Bros., 2010; “Edge of Darkness,” BBC, 1985.]

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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