As movie enthusiasts, we often find ourselves captivated by the world of book-to-film adaptations. There’s something magical about seeing our favourite stories come to life as an adaptation on the big screen.

But have you ever wondered what happens when a book gets adapted into a film not just once, but twice?

Is the second film considered a remake or an adaptation?

Let’s dive into this intriguing question and explore the nuances between the two. When a book is adapted into a movie, it raises questions about whether later films based on the book are remakes or adaptations.

Understanding The Adaptation Formula

An adaptation aims to faithfully bring the story to life. This often brings adjustments to fit the medium of film while staying true to the core themes and characters. The success of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Gone Girl” proved that preserving a book’s essence is crucial for a successful adaptation.

The film industry frequently makes adaptations. Filmmakers take inspiration from books, breathing life into the words and characters we hold dear.

An adaptation aims to capture the essence of the source material while making necessary changes for the visual medium. Think of the sweeping epics like “The Lord of the Rings” or the thrilling mystery of “Gone Girl.” These successful adaptations have shown us the power of staying true to the core themes and characters of a book.

The film seeks to embrace the unique storytelling possibilities of movie production.

Exploring Why Remakes Happen

But then we have remakes—a different beast altogether. A remake takes an existing film and retells its story, often with updated visuals and technology. This may include a completely different creative vision. Good examples are “Dawn of the Dead” and “Total Recall”.

Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel starred in the 2012 film Total Recall, which was directed by Len Wiseman. The movie is a remake of the same-named 1990 film, both of which were inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” from 1966.

“Dawn of the Dead” is a remake of George A. Romero’s 1978 film of the same name. The 2004 horror movie, which was directed by Zack Snyder, has a fresh plot while maintaining the spirit of the original.

It’s like a fresh coat of paint on a classic masterpiece. We’ve seen countless examples of remakes, from the multiple incarnations of “A Star Is Born” to the ever-evolving “King Kong.” Remakes allow filmmakers to reintroduce familiar stories to new audiences. This reproduction take then breathes new life into beloved tales.

But of course, here at ROR, we accept that not every cloud has a silver lining. There are poor remakes and some have deterred audiences from watching remakes altogether.

Fortunately, there are more diamonds over the years, despite nothing but sawdust in recent months.

Mr Coat over on YouTube covered the distinct if at times blurred differences between remakes and adaptations causing the confusion. Is it a remake or an adaptation? Mr Coat explains perfectly from a video he made shortly before Annie, 8 years ago.

The Fine Line: Second Adaptation as a Remake

So, where does a second adaptation of a book-based film fall? Can we consider it a remake?

Well, that’s where things get interesting. I could see a second adaptation as just another adaptation of the source material. Although, it can be considered a remake of the first movie on some occasions. The filmmakers’ creative choices are what matters in the end.

Imagine this scenario: two different directors independently adapt the same book.

The result?

Two distinct adaptations, as each director brings their unique vision to the project. If the second adaptation copies the style and story of the first film, it’s a remake.

The publisher Norstedts Förlag had a hit with Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, which was also adapted into a film. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House did later produce the United States publication. The late Reg Keeland translated the book into English and adapted into two feature films, one in Swedish and one in English. He was a well-known translator of crime novels and this adaptation was darker and grittier.

Right up Fincher’s street.

The 2011 David Fincher-directed movie is renowned for its stunning cinematography and compelling performances from the main actors Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Mara was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander, which won praise from critics.

David Fincher suited this project as he loves to spin his own vision of a tale. He tried on the set of Alien 3 only to get his ideas butchered by execs. He’s wanted to show his vision of a story and tends to pick up any chance to do it while staying true to the source material. We’ve seen his notable works and artistically stunning view of a story in films like “Fight Club,” “Gone Girl,” “The Social Network,” and “Se7en,”.

Great then that he took a shot at adapting the same material for his take on the “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” story. I can only imagine that it must have thrilled him to be the director of the film. Fincher’s version of a remake pulled the audiences because of its stylistic and tonal similarities with the Swedish film. Great way forward to where a built-in fan base already existed of the books and the Swedish original.

And his remake found new audiences.

He’s probably the perfect choice for a movie remake project, particularly thrillers and horror. He loves to explore dark and complex themes, pushing the boundaries of storytelling and engaging viewers on an emotional level.

So based on the visionary talent of the director chosen for a remake project, how do we look at further adaptations? The similarity in approach raises the question: Is it a continuation of the story or a reinterpretation of something already brought to life?

Factors Influencing Classification To Make It All Clear

We have to consider various factors. The director, creative team, and time period can all significantly influence how the film is perceived.

A different director may provide a new interpretation of the source material, making it a second adaptation. If a considerable amount of time has passed between the two films, many differences will hit the cinema. These include changes in technology, cultural context, and filmmaking trends. This can and has resulted in a distinct portrayal, making it easier to classify as a new adaptation.

In the end, a remake or an adaptation category for the film lies within the film itself. Adaptations strive to capture the essence of a written work, while remakes retell a story previously portrayed on the screen.

However, the fine line between the two becomes blurred when a second adaptation closely mimics the style, plot, or characters of the first film. It’s a fascinating discussion that offers insights into the creative choices made by filmmakers as they bring beloved stories to life.

Therefore, the next time you are charmed by a movie that is the second adaptation of a beloved novel, consider whether or not it’s a remake.

Or is it just another way to tell a tale that keeps resonating with viewers? The answer may just open up a whole new world of cinematic appreciation.


Author: remakeorama