Footloose and eighties-free

By Eesha Imran

When talking to the children of the eighties, there is one movie most of them can name — a movie that helped guide their generation, as well as define the time period. It became so decade-defining that people are still talking about it. Footloose is regarded by many as the ultimate story of youth empowerment. On October 14, this generation will have the chance to see director Craig Brewer’s modern-day version of this classic film — a fresh take on a timeless story.

In the 1984 original, after a horrific accident, a series of unjust laws prohibiting dancing are created for the purpose of protecting the teenage population of a small town. Seeking to put the sleepy town’s rebellious teens in the right for once, new-kid-on-the-block Ren, and Ariel, the local minister’s daughter, begin to try and shake up the status quo by fighting the repressive set of regulations.

Fast-forward to 2011, and a brand-new musical score gives new direction to the film. A teenage girl from South Carolina sent a demo of Bonnie Tyler’s song “Holding Out for a Hero” to the filmmaking team, and this new twist on an iconic song mirrored the spirit in which Brewer and his team wanted to make Footloose.

According to Brewer, “Hearing that song was, like a guidepost of how to make this movie.” From the very beginning, the goal of the whole project was to add modern aspects without altering what made the 1984 version special, and re-making one of the songs was the icing on the proverbial cake.

Along with music comes dancing, naturally, and this was also a key aspect of making the film relevant to today. At the same time, Brewer is adamant that the film is not just a dance movie — there is much more to it than that.

A “dance movie,” according to Brewer, is “a plot basically linking a bunch of dance impromptu together.” So Footloose was not, and is not, a dance movie.

Confident that he has made a movie people will like, Brewer states that “I think that no one would’ve made it better than the team we put together.” However, there are also obvious difficulties one faces when remaking a classic movie, mainly trying to undertake the delicate task of updating it without compromising the original film’s integrity, all while not drastically altering the overall feel of the film. Things like wardrobe and style had to be taken into account. Nearly every aspect of the film had to be brought into a new era, while still keeping the flow of the original.

That being said, one major plot change that Brewer and his team did choose to include concerns the reason why, in the fictional story, the laws against dancing were put in place — that is, to protect the teens of the town after a tragic accident.

From the point of view of the adults in the town, the accident had occurred partly because of dancing and the atmosphere it created. In Brewer’s remake, though, “it’s not as simple as a ban on dancing . . . [the parents] just don’t want any unsupervised events with unlawful activities.”

In the updated movie, this is the primary reason for a ban. This significant plot shift is strategic, however. Making this change in the movie will allow viewers to further sympathize with parents, according to Brewer.

It’s clear that the ideals of the original Footloose are still relevant to youth today. It’s Brewer’s view that what sets Footloose apart is that it goes back to a time when teenage problems were actually addressed by teenage movies.

Overall, Brewer is confident that he and his team have “managed to make Footloose more relevant today than it was in 1984,” and that it is time to “give it to a new generation that, I think, is in need of a Footloose.”