Reincarnations and Other Revivals

October 3rd, 2012 by May


Tim Burton‘s new feature film, Frankenweenie, is being released this week. It is about a dead dog reincarnated by its owner and the mishaps that follow. Reincarnation is a popular theme throughout film history, depicted in horror films, comedies, dramas, and more. Here are some examples:

The Mummy (1932)
Along with Frankenstein, these two characters are the first and most well known cinematic reincarnations, with many different versions for each. In this classic horror piece, the mummy is a 3000 years old Egyptian prince awakened by a group of archeologists. With an appearance by the legendary Boris Karloff, this is a must-see for any horror fans.

Frankenstein (1994)
Like The Mummy, this character appears in lots of versions, but my personal favorite is this Kenneth Branagh British production, packed with great actors like Helena Bonham Carter, Robert De Niro, Ian Holm and John Cleese. The gothic and atmospheric feel of this film is definitely improved by the British accent.

Drop Dead Diva (2009)
Reincarnation takes a comic turn in this TV show, dealing with a superficial model killed in a car accident and reincarnated as a plus size lawyer. In this case the reincarnation is used as a narrative device, used to force the model into some level of self discovery and understand what’s really important in life.

Dark Shadows (2012)
Tim Burton obviously enjoys toying with this theme. In his previous feature film, which was a remake of a famous 60s soap opera, Johnny Depp portrays an incarnated vampire, who was buried in the 19th century and rises up again in the 70s. This culture clash causes a lot of funny and sometimes awkward moments and makes a really enjoyable film.

Birth (2004)
In this atmospheric drama, Nicole Kidman portrays a woman that is convinced her dead husband was reincarnated into the body of a 10 years old kid. Yes, it is as strange as it sounds. But the eerie style and Kidman’s strong acting make this film watch-worthy.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Life (2010)
Grand winner of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, this unique Thai film is more about a spiritual reincarnation than a physical one. A man on his deathbed reflects on his life and memories, guided by the ghost of his wife who leads him on his journey into the beyond.

Doctor Who (2005)
A significant part of British popular culture, Doctor Who was an extremely successful TV series. it’s initial run was during 1963-1989 and a new version is being aired since 2005. The show is about a humanoid alien who travels through space and time to fight evil as he encounters adventures. His most notable trait is his ability to regenerate his body when nearing death – and that’s how we got 11 reincarnations of the doctor so far.

Kundun (1997)
One of Martin Scorsese‘s least known works (but one of the most stylized and captivating ones, in my personal opinion) tells the story of the 14th Dalai Lama, a Tibetan leader reincarnated in the body of a small child after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama. His reign takes him through his ordeals facing the Chinese oppression.

Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Up for a feel-good fantastic romantic comedy? Heaven Can Wait certainly delivers! This movie deals with a quarterback who, due to the mistake of an anxious angel, dies before his time and is sent back to Earth in an older body. Warren Beatty is at his best in this enjoyable comedy classic.

Frankenweenie (2012)
Based on a short 1984 film (also by Tim Burton), This stop motion feature stretches the story of a dog reincarnated by its owner to a full-length film. Some say Burton’s stop motion projects are his best (Vincent, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride) so it will be interesting to see how this project turned out.

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