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Movies and Computer Games the Perfect Partnership?

by Carlton Whitfield. Published Fri 05 Jan 2018 17:23, last updated: 14/02/18

Movies and computer games have an amazing and rather intriguing relationship – some of the best computer games have been adapted from films and some of the best films have actually come from computer games. Sound surprising? We take a closer look at this creative partnership...

Hitman is a great starting point and a nice way into the examination of this cultural exchange as it’s one of those titles everyone is familiar with. That slick, cold-blooded and shaven-headed assassin isn’t an image that you forget in a hurry.

There have been two films featuring the fearsome killer, the 2007 Hitman and then in 2015 Hitman: Agent 47, but both really come from the phenomenal computer game series.

It all started back at the turn of the millennium when the gaming world was introduced to the man in the smart suit with a curious barcode tattooed onto the back of his head; since then five more games have been released building on the success of the first and following the misadventures of the assassin without a name.

Another great example is the Batman films and games, which have consistently moved back and forth, exchanging with one another and producing some great things- the Tell Tale series being especially good. In fact this sort of exchange even makes its way into online gaming, with many of inspired by some of the most treasured films of all time, from King Kong to Snow White.

The question is: what exactly is going on here? Isn’t it strange that something that begins in one form should be transmuted in this way and end up in a completely different one, often tapping into a completely different market? Well, yes and no….

On the one hand it’s definitely quite peculiar to think that something that began life as an idea in a scriptwriter’s head should end up as a virtual being on a computer screen, or conversely that what started life on a Playstation should end up being shown all over the world on the silver screen. On the other hand though, there’s nothing so unusual about movement from one part of a culture to another.

Looking back through history you’ll find plenty of examples. Take the relationship between Art and Literature for example. One of the best loved works of the Pre-Raphaelite movement is Millais’ Ophelia - a painting based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. So what started out as a play became a painting, which like a computer game is after all a form of virtual reality.

Another example of cultural transfer can be found in the relationship between Philosophy and music. Nietzche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra inspired Strauss to create his tone poem that took listeners of the 1890s on an extremely powerful virtual journey. The story doesn’t end there as in 1968 Stanley Kubrick in turn used Strauss’ piece for his 2001: A Space Odyssey and it was heard for the first time and avidly lapped up by a new generation.

Clearly then there are many precedents for this kind of cultural exchange and the kind we regularly see now between films and computer games is just the latest in a long and worthy line. Long may it continue.


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