It’s hard to imagine that just a few decades ago, the term “reboot” didn’t really exist in the film vocabulary. It wasn’t that similar plots weren’t ever retold, it was that each individual movie was thought of as a complete story and not a franchise. However, movie “remakes” are almost as old as the industry itself and another classic tale is being prepped to return to big screen.
Earlier last month, reports surfaced that director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Magnificent Seven) was in talks to direct a remake to the Brian De Palma crime classic, Scarface. The 1983 film should be known to anyone who has ever entered a college dorm room, as the poster to the movie is one of the most popular of all-time.
The movie starred Al Pacino in one of his signature roles as Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who settles in Florida and through his own misguided ambition, becomes a ruthless drug lord. It should be noted that the movie was actually a remake of Scarface (1932), which was a Howard Hughes production directed by Howard Hawks and starring Hollywood legends Paul Muni and Boris Karloff. So there is historical precedent for remaking the material. With that in mind Fuqua recently opened up to Fandango about the project which has been in development for some time:
“I read the script they have and it’s actually really interesting and very timely…We’re dealing with a lot of stuff now coming out of Mexico. And again, we still have those issues dealing with the “American Dream”, and the fact that the game is rigged, right? It’s not really an even playing field, but the promise is that it is. The promise is that everyone gets a fair shot, but that’s not always the case. So that’s always relevant, and right now with what’s happening in Mexico, which is where [the main character] comes from — he comes out of Mexico — that’s relevant, especially when you’ve got people talking about putting up walls and other kinds of stuff. We’re still dealing with immigration, we’re still dealing with what would turn someone into Scarface.”
The American Dream has always been that anyone can achieve their wildest dreams in this country. However, the plausibility of the “Dream” is subjective and often determined by factors that are actually out of the individual’s control. Many who watch Scarface are mesmerized by the flash and glamour once Tony Montana “makes it.” However, there is a lot of subtext under the surface, including minority access to quality resources and opportunity that can be explored. Fuqua went on to elaborate even more:
“They all leave these small countries, and it’s hard to become Scarface unless you’re someone like El Chapo…It’s hard to become that guy in America. But what happens when you have a guy who has that same appetite and the doors keep getting shut in his face? What happens when he only knows one thing, for sure — which is how to go and take it? I just think being disenfranchised is dangerous. When people are disenfranchised and delusional, it’s just dangerous. I think it’s more relevant than ever right now, and it can be extremely entertaining. So we’ll see.”
Montana has a fascinating journey in Scarface. Initially, the Cuban immigrant was simply looking to improve his lot in life in the U.S. But a series of grisly circumstances gets him involved and ultimately motivated by the opportunities that are created by economic hardship, drug cartel crime, U.S. government corruption, along with good old-fashioned human greed and ignorance.
Particularly in an election year, sometimes the cracks and divisions that lie under the surface of the country come to the surface. The Scarface story has always been a cautionary tale about the dangers and depths of humanity’s ambitions, when combined with an unforgiving environment that wants those dreams and desires muted. With that in mind, perhaps the time is right for a new iteration of Scarface. Then, perhaps, we can put up a poster that more accurately reflects the dark side of today’s American Dream.
Scarface is still in development and does not presently have a release date.