Thomas Crown Affair

Thomas Crown Affair

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Hello my name is and like most people I get bored sometimes, not because of a lack of ideas but because of a lack of money. But what if money wasn't a factor and you could do and have done everything within the rules that worldly possessions can afford you? Whoever this person is, they most undoubtedly would not gain the same pleasure from activities that you or I would. This is the main theme of the remake of the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair. The original Thomas Crown Affair was written by Alan Trustman and directed by Norman Jewison who also did In the heat of the night and the 2003 movie The Statement. It starred Steve McQueen as the Financer, Thomas Crown, and Faye Dunaway as an insurance investigator counterpart to Crown, Viki Anderson. In 1999 the original was rewritten by Leslie Dixon and Kurt Wimmer, and was directed by John McTiernan who also did the first two Last Action Hero. It stared Pierce Brosnan as Crown and Rene Russo as Catherine Banning, the remakes version of Viki Anderson. On top of the changing of most the characters names, McTiernan's version has many differences from the original.

The first major difference I noticed was in the cinematography. In the original, Jewison used techniques that were new to the industry at the time. He used a split screen technique to enhance the action scenes by allowing for more than one point of view, giving the movie more suspense. However, in the remake, McTiernan chose not to use this technique or even any other that is newer to film making. Mctiernan's makes it easier for the viewer to follow the plot and focus in on what is going on in the movie. In doing this, the remake loses some of the intensity in it's action and suspense scenes.

Along the same lines, the remake makes it easier for the viewer to know more about what is going on by showing more of both sides of the story than the original. There is more mystery in the original because although Jewison gives the viewer all the pieces to the puzzle, he makes them put the story together themselves. McTiernan's version "connects the dots" for the viewer thus allowing them to better understand what is going on.
McTiernan did this to make the film more viewer accessible because this was the film audience of the time.

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He also did this to make the story easier to follow as he most surely felt that the original was hard to follow for the average joe.

Another difference in the two films involves the political environment and culture differences between the late 60's and late 90's. As we are well aware smoking was much more widely accepted in decades past, and this can be seen in how both of the main characters in the original smoke cigarettes. Other than Crown's celabetory cigar after a smart business move, Mctiernan left out the characteristic of smoking in the remake. McTiernan's choice to do this was to conform character's to the 90's idea of the uberwealthy financer and suave high class investigator.

The second change I saw relating to the difference in political environment of the times was in the reasons why Thomas Crown chooses to break the law. In the original Crown dvelopes and executes a plan to rob a bank. Although he does it to see if he can pull it off, he also does it because he feels as though it is "him against the "system" and this is a way for to fight against it. This was making a statement about how the people in the late 60's felt about the government and its actions, mainly about the Vietnam War, and also is giving reference to civil rights. However in the remake, Crown steals a priceless painting from the Metropolitan museum of art because he only finds excitement in attaining the unattainable. McTiernan chose not to include this type of statement not because there were no wars, but because as a director he had been walking on thin ice after some of his films were relatively unsuccessful, and so he was unwilling to risk being rejected by viewers for being to critical of the government.

In the original, Jewison portrayed Crown as sporty and sophisticated through activities. He expertly plays polo, is passionate and skillful at playing chess, and even takes Anderson up flying in a glider plane. Similar to the original, Crown takes Banning flying in a glider, but in the remake McTiernan includes scenes which portray a different Crown. In one scene Crown endangers his life in a sailing race by wrecking an expensive Hurricane catamaran when he tries to pass the leading boat because he does a stupid dangerous move which capsizes the boat. When he is picked up out of the cold water by a yacht, it is apparent that he does not care what happened because he seems unphased by it and has on a smile. In another scene Crown is playing golf and hits a ball close to the hole from a sand trap. When another player says "A thousand bucks says you can't do that again." He puts another ball down and gives the other player 10 to 1 odds. He misses the shot, and then says he'll go double or nothing making it a $100k bet. When the other player asks Crown if he is sure he wants to, Crown replies "What the hell else do we have to do today?" And misses the shot.

In changing these activities from the original's to the modern day belief of what an adventure sport is, McTiernan allows the viewer to better understand that his Crown has lost almost all interest in things he can attain. It is obvious that McTiernan made the changes to better emphasize to the viewer the dire boredom Crown suffers through his living more recklessly, both with his life and his money-- just so he can get a momentary change from the normal.

Throughout the original, the lighting in the movie is low which can be blamed on more than just the film quality of the time. Jewison does this to better encapsulate the viewer into Crown's world that is dull and boring. However in the remake, McTiernan mainly keeps the lighting very bright as if it were always a bright sunny day. He chooses to use the bright light to apply somewhat of the same normality shown in the original. But different than the original, he uses this normality to set a tone so that a change in the lighting can be more distinctly seen. This can be seen in the low lighting that is used in the scene when banning is walking down the street in the rain, crying because she thinks Crown has used her and is cheating on her. McTiernan uses the change in lighting to better emphasize to the viewer a characters emotion. In doing this McTiernan is able to provide the viewer with an additional aspect, albeit an esthetic aspect, of the story.

In McTiernan's the movie, he chose to include an additional theme that centers around fine art, a Monet in particular. McTiernan weaves this theme of art throughout various scenes in the play. For instance, Bannon breaks into Crowns house and thinks she finds the stolen painting. But when the police try to authenticate it, they find that it is a fake because it is painted over a portrait of dogs playing poker. There are also various scenes like a ceremony where Crown donates a painting to the museum until it is recovered; or on a trip where Crown takes Bannon to an island with a mysterious painting in a box that is shrouded throughout the trip until she burns it. McTiernan uses the theme of art not only as part of the premice of the story, but also as most of the body of the story.

At the ending of both movies lies the main difference between the original and remake. In the original, Crown asks Anderson to come away with him, but instead stands her up and has someone give her the stolen money. Crown does this because he is one step ahead of her and knows that she will betray him. However, in the remake Crown does almost the same thing by standing Bannon up and leaving her the newly stolen piece of art also. But McTiernan doesn't cut the viewer off here, he instead has Bannon board a flight back to Europe, and when she starts crying over Crown, he elegantly hands her a handkerchief and tells her not to worry. McTiernan added this part to the movie because he not only felt that it flowed more with the connection he made between Crown and Bannon, but he also thought that the viewers of the original version needed to have some sort of closure.

Both the original and the remake of the Thomas crown affair were excellent movies. But all in all I found that the Jewison's original intrigued me more than McTeirnan's retelling. While the remake was more intense in action, it didn't give my mind anything more to think about other than just imagining myself in his shoes. It also didn't leave the ending open for me to imagine what happens to the two counterparts. The original allowed myself to guess what was going to happen next, while still staying one step ahead of me. So if you like action movies than see the remake. but if you like mystery's more, than see the original cause Steve McQueen rocks. Thank you
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