As a mom, I feel like I’ve seen every kids’ movie out there – repeatedly. One in particular that my almost-4-year-old son loves is The Book of Life. (From IMDb: “Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.”) It’s a really good movie, with adventure, legend, and friendship. A major part of the movie is the fact that Manolo is being raised as a bullfighter like his father, despite his desire to be a musician.
Currently, I’m reading a book from 1964 called Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska, recommended to me by my husband. He read it years ago and, after the first time of watching The Book of Life, told me that the movie was very familiar. As I’m reading the book, I see the relation to the movie: Manolo, the young boy in the book, is encouraged to follow in his bullfighter-father’s footsteps, but he is filled with fear. It’s actually been a bit difficult for me to get through the book because of the preconceived ideas that I have about the story, based on my experience watching the movie.
There are very few original ideas anymore, whether you’re creating a piece of art, working on a science experiment, or coming up with a marketing campaign. While the basis may not be original, though, it’s all in the details. You can come up with new ways to use something or put a modern twist on an old story. I feel like the producers of the movie wandered into a gray area. They changed up quite a bit of the story (from what I know of the book so far) but they could have changed the main character’s name. New concepts shouldn’t remind people of an old one; this can be distracting. They should shine through as their own ideas and remind people of exact what you want them to remember.