This study aims to analyze how the intertextuality among the narrative, design, and music in a remake film, Cape Fear recreated the cultural experience of a new era of 1991 shifted from the original film’s era of 1962 and secured the identity of a new text.
The narrative of this remake warrants special attention in that its main characters exhibit various types of aesthetic judgment. First, Sam and Lori who frequently engage in sexual aberration display “judgment of taste,” i.e., judgment of aesthetic objects by intuition. Next, Leigh and Danielle who become bereft and rebellious due to Sam (who feel a sense of kinship with Cady and make Sam feel a sense of betrayal) display “judgment of understanding”, i.e., judgment of meaning implied in an aesthetic object through involvement in aesthetic consciousness. Lastly, Cady who leads the final judgment on Sam, the defendant displays “judgment of value”, i.e., judgment of the aesthetic value of an aesthetic object based on his own values following aesthetic consciousness.
In the remake, Martin Scorsese described the narrative of cultural experience involving a variety of aesthetic judgment based on his unique cinematic style. First, the narrative in the remake described the disorder and disharmony of family breakup and breakdown, revealing the hidden sides of the ideals of freedom and equality that are firmly ingrained in the American dream, i.e., class and gender inequality. Secondly, the design that revolves around the title sequence of Saul Bass and Elaine Bass, delivers metaphorical expressions through symbolic images, understated color tones, animation techniques, etc. tailored to the cinematic narrative as well as the director’s intention and directing plans, and even takes the weight of movie soundtrack into account. Thirdly, for the remake’s soundtrack, Elmer Bernstein arranged and adapted Bernard Herrmann’s original music. The arrangements and the adaptations maintained the cinematic aesthetics and intertextuality of various types of aesthetic judgment in the title sequences in the first half of the film and in the second half of the film, respectively. Also, the diegetic music in the remake features a wide array of genres (e.g., New Orleans blues, blues rock, a combination of gospel, pop, and R&B, bel canto opera, boogie-woogie, etc.) to secure the identity of the new text and even arouse the irony of intertextuality by sharing the cultural convergence of the new era.
Identification with Cape Fear—which is achieved through a synesthetic aesthetic world that is built based on the remake narrative and the audiovisual expressions of the narrative – is significant in rediscovering the potential of cinematic aesthetics. The diversity of aesthetic judgment that is experienced by the audience enables Cape Fear to overcome the limit of the criticism about a mere replica of diegesis.