Generally, film history is seen as a progression, with each generation of filmmakers building on the technological and storytelling innovations of the generation before. Of course, directors will occasionally ape different filmic eras for style purposes, but they generally look back, not forward. But what if the tide of history flowed in reverse? What if Billy Wilder had the foresight to direct Blade Runner in the heyday of Bogie and Bacall? What if Avatar played in a double feature with a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie?
That’s the premise behind New York-based illustrator Peter Stult’s “What If?: Movies Re-Imagined For Another Time And Place,” a collection that takes contemporary classics and re-imagines them as relics from the past. What makes Stult’s work more than just a gimmick is the care with which he imagines which actors, directors and even screenwriters would work on each project, fleshing out his ideas and making viewers long to see the Peter Sellers version of Groundhog Day or Pam Grier in Aliens. Hell, Stult’s version of American Hustle, starring Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton, might even be better than the real thing. All three of Stult’s “What If?” collections can be seen in full on his website.