Nostalgia is one of the reasons updated versions of so many old movies are returning to our screens these days, suggests Paul Little in a feature today. Other reasons include the voracious appetite of consumers who can download films on home computers now, and, to financiers, the appeal of the tried and true.

But there is no doubt nostalgia is the main appeal. Nostalgia not just for the fondly remembered movie but for our younger selves, the people and places and interests in our lives when the movie came out.

Experiences such as the cinema provides can disappoint nostalgia though. Some things are better left in the memory, especially classic films in which the acting and dialogue is so dated that you wonder why you ever loved it so much.

Was real life the same? Were the people, places, experiences and interests we remember so fondly really as sweet as the memory?


Thankfully the movies can be remade to match the standards of production and the styles of language, dress and behaviour we enjoy today. The most appealing nostalgia for many are films and television programmes that can bring older versions of the same characters to the screen.

They have the same appeal as school class reunion, the fascination of seeing how someone has aged whom we have not seen since our youth. Some you would not now have recognised if you passed in the street, and that realisation is always mildly disturbing, Might they be thinking the same of you?

When we can say to somebody, "You look just the same," we do, and if they reply in kind we hope they mean it. Nostalgia does not want anything to change.

Often enough, fortunately, the past does not disappoint. The box set of an old television series reminds you how very good it was, better in fact than you remembered, better even than you knew if you had seen it as a child and had not realised it had an extra dimension of comedy for adults.

Places we knew as children can have the same quality. Their scale is diminished by an adult eye but the child did not appreciate the scenic beauty.

Nostalgia is fine but life is not made of endless repeats. If just about all the 10 most attended movies are sequels these days, what is happening to the creative industries? When audiences eventually want something truly new, will writers and film makers remember how it is done?