Set to premier on May 25th, Netflix & TNT dropped the trailer of their new show Snowpeircer, which is, if the name didn’t give it away, a reboot of the 2013 Bong Joon-Ho’s film of the same name, and is also based on the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige. Although the 2013’s film was also based on the graphic novel, it was purely the concept that Bong Joon-Ho borrowed, while he wrote two additional drafts of the script to add the “cinematic exhilaration”. Post that, Kelly Masterson (who had written Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), re-wrote the screenplay, bringing a fresh tone to the story. It’s vital to know this writing process because it underlines how much the final film diverged from the graphic novel.
However, the new take by Josh Friedman (best known for creating Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Emerald City), appears like an easy way to capitalize on the source material. Shows based on movies have worked tremendously well, take the case of Westworld or Netflix’s own Fargo.
Why transform a popular film into a show?
I understand, but is there a need to do so?
The need and intent is the problem here. The 2013 film is fresh in memory because of its social criticism, not because of how spectacular the film looked, which is where the emphasis seems to be on. Snowpiercer was the perfect marriage between staggering social commentary and compelling storytelling, where neither of the facets dominates one other. It’s a happy marriage. No doubt the reboot looks beautiful, and the whole ‘rich vs poor’ factor will also be underlined, thanks to the sledgehammer-esque storyline. But do we need a TV show which merely is a reimagination (?) of a story we have already witnessed? Both Westworld and Fargo borrow the concept/storyline/skeleton from the films they are based on and create new characters and storylines to make progress. In other words, those shows do not mirror their source materials. Snowpiercer (TV Show) is mirroring its source material, with the primary difference being the bigger scale (1001 cars, hmm), or at least that’s what the trailer tells.
Snowpiercer is a universal story, which can effortlessly traverse geographical barriers, and viewers don’t even have to fear the one-inch subtitles. The story’s mundane setting is the representation of the world and is not specific to countries or continents. I seriously wonder what new layer the show adds to the story that the original film fell short of. Bong Joon-Ho once said that he scrapped the idea of a romantic subplot, early in the writing. That could find a spot here. Could. I’m not fronting the idea of rebooting, but to do without adding substance is not fair.
On a positive note, David Fincher in a recent interview with Empire said television allows the characters to grow, owing to the ample time it bestows the creators to explore, which the runtime for a feature film restrains. In his own words:
“In trying to take something that probably would’ve been a pretty good five-hour movie and get it down to two hours and 45 minutes, we kind of made it too long on one hand and not deep enough on another. I think the criteria for me is if something is very narratively focused it’s probably good, fertile ground for growing a movie. And if something is much more about getting to know the people and seeing their hypocrisies and foibles and strengths and weaknesses, then probably television.”
Drawing from the master’s words, the longer runtime of the TV show, could empower Snowpiercer to dwell into zones, which were restricted in the original film. The longer format could bolster in fleshing out characters, adding more nuances to the straightforward narrative.
Provided the show completely leverages the freedom, both time and lack of censorship, the answer to the question would be, yes. There is a need for a Snowpiercer reboot.
Let’s find the answer from May 25th.
Moreover, in the age of binge-watching, Snowpiercer is bringing back glory to weekly episodes! (No. Haven’t seen Watchmen and The Mandalorian. Wonder how they are similar to Snowpiercer.)
Trailer of Snowpiercer (2013)
Trailer of Snowpiercer (2020)