Now Playing: Snowpiercer

dir: Bong Joon-ho, S. Korea, 2013
Rating: 8.4


Now playing as an exclusive engagement at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, and elsewhere around the country in limited release, is Snowpiercer, a formidable dystopian sci-fi action movie from the prodigiously talented South Korean writer/director Bong Joon-ho. Snowpiercer is an international co-production designed to have broad-based global appeal: the script was adapted by Bong and American playwright Kelly Masterson from the acclaimed French graphic novel by Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette, and the cast boasts an impressively motley crew of movie stars from Europe, Asia and North America (headed by none other than “Captain America” himself, Chris Evans). This being a Bong Joon-ho film, there is also a sly, undeniably Marxist slant. Bong, a member of the Democratic Labor Party (the most progressive in South Korea), is no stranger to subtly incorporating political messages into traditional genre fare. Memories of Murder (2003) was a slam-bang police procedural that also painted a trenchant portrait of life under a military dictatorship while The Host (2006) used the monster-movie format as the framework for an eye-opening anti-global-capitalist screed.

Snowpiercer continues Bong’s admirable trend of using Hollywood genre tropes to say some very un-Hollywood things by telling the story of how the few remaining survivors of an apocalyptic event are engaged in class warfare on a train that must continually circle the earth. The film’s “revenge of the 99%” plot, however, is staged first and foremost as a series of thrilling action set-pieces, which, along with the charismatic star turns and state-of-the-art CGI effects, should have been more than enough to appeal to the “Transformers crowd.” Unfortunately, stateside distributor the Weinstein Company appears to have seriously miscalculated Snowpiercer‘s commercial prospects. After a protracted and notorious battle with Bong over final cut (Harvey “Scissorhands” Weinstein wanted to elide 20 minutes and add an explanatory voice-over), the Weinstein Company ultimately decided to treat it as an arthouse specialty item rather than the mass entertainment it so obviously is. When I belatedly caught up with it on its 14th day of screening at the Music Box, the show I attended was sold out and scores of people were being turned away at the door.


The most impressive aspect of Snowpiercer is its dazzling production design. Bong has always made meticulous looking, image-driven movies and, now that he has the biggest budget he has ever been allowed to work with, he really lets it fly. The CGI landscapes of the earth as it might look plunged into a new ice age are nifty, but the interior design of the train cars is even more eye-popping. The film begins with images that are appropriately grimy, desaturated and drab as Bong focuses on the rear of the train; this is where the working-class characters (under the leadership of John Hurt’s Gilliam — no doubt a reference to the creator of Brazil) have been ghettoized. The visual style then becomes increasingly colorful and ornate as the back-of-the-train’s pointedly multi-racial coalition (which includes characters played by Evans, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer and Song Kang-ho) mount a revolt and work their way towards the front of the train where the “one-percenters” are living in the lap of luxury. This dichotomy is not unlike the above/below-ground schism of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis: both films comment on the present day by imagining a future where the gulf between rich and poor is taken to a logical but disturbing extreme.

The best scene of all takes place in a train compartment that functions as an elementary school where children are being force-fed propaganda about Wilford (Ed Harris), the mysterious great white father who invented the train and lives in its engine. While the film ultimately belongs to Tilda Swinton — hilarious as Mason, Wilford’s second-in-command and a cartoonish villain buried beneath almost as much prosthetics and make-up as she wore in The Grand Budapest Hotel — she is herself momentarily upstaged in this scene; the talented young Canadian actress Alison Pill amazes as a schoolteacher leading the children through maniacally gleeful sing-alongs (“What happens if the engine stops? / We all freeze and die!”). While nothing in the film’s too-protracted climax can match the invention of this delightfully candy-colored sequence (nor an earlier, elaborately choreographed battle scene between the torch-wielding poor and the hooded, axe-wielding security guards of the rich), Snowpiercer is still far and away the best bet for anyone looking for a “summer popcorn movie.” Bong Joon-ho reminds us of something that Hollywood seems to have depressingly forgotten: that art and entertainment need not be seen as mutually exclusive concepts.

You can check out the trailer for Snowpiercer via YouTube below:

About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

23 responses to “Now Playing: Snowpiercer

  • John Charet

    Spot-on comments as usual:) I agree with you about Harvey “Scissorhands” Weinstein. Jonathan Rosenbaum has expressed similar opinions about him in the past. Seriously, Weinstein has no respect for a filmmaker’s vision. Tarantino may think he is a genius, but that is because his films do not suffer the kind of fate or under-promotion that occurs when Weinstein does not like the final product. Thank god, Snowpiercer was released in its entirety. Shame that it is only playing in a few theaters right now (at least to my knowledge). This reminds me of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and like that film, it was released in its entirety, but only played in a few theaters in each state. I agree, this should be seen in more theaters and Harvey Weinstein deserves to be labeled a dunce here considering how unfair he is treating this film. As great as the action sequences are, they refreshingly serve as window dressing to the ideas and imagination on depicted here. The production design is just dazzling as you say and they are worthy of all the films you compare them to. Tilda Swinton has had quite a year with 2014. She was in heavy makeup in The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is sure to be placed on a lot of critics best lists at the end of the year and now a summer blockbuster of sorts with Snowpiercer.

  • John Charet

    P.S. since we are only in July, I have given three films so far this year
    * * * * out of * * * * stars and a huge number of other ones (more than I can count) * * * 1/2 stars. For the time being, I will give you the list of the films I gave * * * * stars to in the following sentence. The films are: Boyhood (Dir: Richard Linklater), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Dir: Wes Anderson) and Jodorowsky’s Dune (Dir: Frank Pavich) (Documentary). I will give you a list of the * * * 1/2 star ones on another day. Oh and just in case you are wondering, I gave Snowpiercer * * * 1/2 stars and speaking of my Tilda Swinton talk in my above reply, she also appears in arguably heavy makeup here as well. P.S. I can’t wait to see your review of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood:)

  • Top Ten Films of 2014 | White City Cinema

    […] 24. Snowpiercer (Bong, South Korea) – Music Box. Rating: 8.4. Full review here. […]

  • Ivona Jesic

    “Snowpiercer” by Boon Joon-ho. Impressive movie in one hand unrealistic but the main idea is something that is definitely real and true. Well, when I mentioned the main idea I was thinking about social inequality and that’s something that is definitely real and present in our lives and our society. The movie begins with scenes from last part of the train where is the lowest class, at the beginning movie we are not conscious what is happening but how the movie is going we are getting idea about what is happening and who are poor people at the end of the train. Something that definitely caught my attention is that train by it self is organized in the way from the last, poorest and dirtiest wagon leading to first cleanest and richest. Also going through this wagons people are separated in that way that when we come to the top wagon there is the “king” of the train and someone who is really conscious what is happening and that at the end people are starving but he doesn’t want to do anything about is. Unfortunately all this remind me of country I came from where unfortunately people are divided on the level how much wealth they possess and people in the parliamentary those who are the richest same as King of the train Wilford in this movie politicians know situation in what people are living but they do not care and do not want to take serious steps to improve people’s lives. End of this movie is very satisfying from my perspectives because polar bear shows us even if the train is broken life will not end.

  • Ivana Jesic

    The movie “Snowpiercer”produced by Bong Joon-ho is the awesome movie about the people who live on the train. I think that director of this film wants to show to us that different class of people is not treated in the same way. The train that we saw in this film is separated from a lot of different wagons. The film starts in the last wagon or tail of the train. That is definitely the darkest and the saddest place in the entire film. People are dirty, they are eating protein bars for which we will find out later that are made of bees.That group of people in search of a better future, and children who are abducted by a parent and taken to work in the engine of the train. The film starts with really dark images and the more the film takes place it becomes brighter and full of colors. As I mentioned before that train was separated on different wagons some of them are a wagon with garden , next one aquarium, then the school which is I think the brightest and nicest place in the entire train. Also, the atmosphere in that wagon is awesome those kids that are singing the song are really sweet. Although, there are the yellow cabin and night club. All these wagons show everything that people need and enjoy and also everything that people in the tail of the train didn’t have. This film is very educative because it teach us that all of us deserve the best and all of us are equal not just one group of people should have privileges. My personal opinion is that during the whole film people in the tail of the train was leaving in the huge lie that life outside of the train is impossible. Also, that end of the film sends the special message that outside of that train life is possible by screening the polar bear at the top of the hill.

  • Davis Negrillo (@DNEGRILLO)

    Snowpiercer was a great film to show how classes are so segregated and treated, well told by Bong Joon-Ho. Being in the tail section, the low class section, the clothes are raggedy, there are no lights and the people are very dirty. They get treated like animals, live stock almost. The children being ripped from the parents to power the train was both saddening and a great metaphor for kids these days. Although, kids in our plane of existence don’t necessarily get ripped from their parents, they do have to work hard which usually takes over their lives preventing them from an education and advancing their family class. The protein blocks were another example of treatment towards the lower class citizens. Like society today, the foods the lower working class citizen can afford are nothing short of disgusting blends of nastiness. You need to be at least a middle class to be able to enjoy healthy foods and if you want organic, well, now you need to really get up the class ladder. My favorite scene was the entire brutal war scene between the tail and the hooded security guard. It was hilarious when the door opened and all you see is this crowd of, what looked to me as a crap load of medieval executioners, axes and all. And then of course the fish scene was just, weird. But I would assume that the fish was some sort of poisonous fish but it was never elaborated throughout the fighting. And then, the yell for fire; that was the start of a hell of a time Mason (Tilda Swinton) was not expecting and essentially got a knife in her bum. As you mentioned, the Weinstein Company absolutely underrated the outcome of this film. It would not have had as big an impact on the box office finances as Transformers did, but I believe it absolutely had potential of being well planted film in the people’s minds. This film, had I seen an ad or some sort of push to theaters when it was being released would definitely have made it on my list of movies to see in theaters.

  • brad fagan

    Snowpiercer is a futuristic account of a train carrying several thousand passengers blindly into the wilderness– as the world plunges into a manmade ice age in the early twenty-first century. The film is all about Wilford, a wealthy industrialist, commandeering a high speed train through a desolate landscape in order to preserve his privileged life style. The passengers consist of four social casts: the elite who reside in the front of the train, a technically advanced middle class, and the poorest and most deprived people who are referred to as the proletariat. The bourgeoisie live in a luxurious manner in the front cars, while the proletariat barely subsists (on protein bars made from their slaughtered children) in the back of the train. The audience is witnessing the way in which the bourgeoisie enslaves the proletariat in order to perpetuate a class society. This voyage exemplifies a class system which systematically brainwashes the poor in order to produce more and more wealth for the the rich.
    Several unsuccessful revolts occurred in the back of the train—one of which was led by Gilliam, an older gentleman who clearly recalls a conversation he once had with Nangoong. Nangoong was a brilliant engineer that figured out how to override the system of interlocking doors which separate various compartments leading to the front of the train. He was the first person to recognize that the engine compartment is vulnerable; and therefore, it is theoretically possible for the workers to rise up and overthrow the ruling class. Furthermore, Edgar, Tanya, and Yona (Nangoong’s daughter) are willing to sacrifice themselves for the great good in order to liberate the remaining members of the human race.
    In conclusion, Boon Jong-Ho sci-fi is all about how society exploits the weak and forces them into wage- slavery— while those with political and economic power have access to the best private schools, the finest cuisine, designer clothes, and hundred thousand dollar cars.

  • Prat Moshy

    Snowpiercer has officially became the number one movie we have had to watch in this class. I enjoyed the after the world type of setting that it delivered. Curtis would have to be the bravest character we have encountered so far. He took the initiative to finish what needed to be done. The movie did a lot to show how the world that we once knew ended to be the same world that they are living in. Bong took his time making sure each train cart represented how our world is. Starting off from poverty and making it up from middle class to the rich class. It also shows how unaware the rich class is from seeing how the low class is being treated. I think it was a genius idea because the train to me represents the new world and it is sort of like Bong took the world and confided it into one train. I thought Bong did a great job incorporating what the train needed to have in it in order for this idea to become alive. He incorporated the population count, the different ethnicity and languages that needed to be preserved. Even the concept of the Noah’s ark was brought into it.

  • Jowayne Calma

    Snowpiercer is a sci-fi movie starring Chris Evans as Curtis. A man who lead the revolution against the higher authorities. Due to a climate engineering failure the world turned into ice age and everything who was in the train only survived. Curtis belongs to the people living at the end of the train. Due to the constant abuse people at the end of the train are receiving, Curtis started a revolt against the authorities to make their way up to the first coach. As they are getting near to the head of the train every battle becomes tougher, until three of them Namgoong, Yona and Curtis survived. Curtis was caught in a situation of accepting Wilford’s offer to replace him. The film ended with only Yona and Timmy survived after Namgoong lit the kronole bomb which caused a big avalanche and derailed the train. Watching the movie somehow reminded me of the Hunger Games. The gloomy colors of the train’s tail is similar to colors scheme presented everytime the poor districts are shown in Hunger Games. Same with the colors the poor people wear and the rich people having bright fancy outfits. This movie tackled almost every problems in the society: Inequality, abuse of authority, brain washing/indoctrination of people, child labor, drug abuse, starvation, environmental problem even cannibalism. In my opinion as Curtis and his team makes their way to the head, the problems that are depicted on coaches are becoming more sensitive; Child Labor and Cannibalism being the most sensitive. Overall, Snowpiercer was a great movie to watch! I really like the part where the child brings the torch to where the attack was happening. That was such an exhilarating scene!

  • Irfan Makani

    Snowpiercer is a the best movie that I’ve seen in this class so far. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole movie. That is a good sign for the director if he can keep the audience engaged and anticipated about what happens next. Chris Evans does a good job playing the role of the hero who is trying to get his very large group to the front of the train that holds together humanity. He is intelligent and determined; he was able to detect that bullets have already been extinct and the guards cant have any. I like how Curtis had to decide whether to save his friend or capture Deputy Minister Mason. He chose to capture Mason because he has to look after the whole train and stop at nothing. Without a doubt this was a tough choice, but had to be made in order to lead his group to safety. Namgoong and Yona are important characters that support Curtis and help complete his mission. I like Namgoong’s theory of there being life outside of the train. In the end, we are shown a polar bear that I believe indicates that human life is possible. All the characters do a good job and seem to have some insight on finding the path back to normal life. Winfred plays the role of the typical rich man who wants to destroy the people. He is caught and destroyed in the end after Curtis refuses to abandon his crew, which is what a hero does.

  • Dakota D

    (Contains Spoilers) Snowpiercer shows us how such simple character decisions can drive a strong story through a feature length film. Through Curtis’s fight to the front of the train where he can confront Wilford after 17 years of suffering he is consistently plagued with the decision of left or right. He can either proceed forward, right, or return to the “safety” and what he is familiar with in the rear of the train, left. With each conflict where he must choose left or right Joon-ho Bong takes time to show Curtis looking back and forward and what lies before him in each direction. One of Curtis’s toughest decisions takes place during the New Years Fight where the tail sections clashes with the security of the more lucrative front section. During this fight his best friend, Edgar, is caught my knife point by one of the main security guards. Meanwhile, Mason in charge of the tail section, is getting away. We see Curtis in the middle of these two conflicts, and he must choose left to save Edgar or right and capture the rook to move down the rest of the train. In this instance we feel the same as him, and are put on edge. Do we save our best friend who we see (emphasis on see) being held by knife point and regress to being condemned to the tail section or capture Mason the key to our victory while sacrificing Edgar. It is pivotal choices like these that audiences don’t experience in modern cinema. We understand the conflicts but rarely do we see what the main protagonist is seeing, how he is evaluating that choice, and his repercussions with his choice. We see Curtis move to capture Mason, all while showing his displeasure for his choice through closing his eyes, charging head first, and grimacing. Very rarely is the audience put in the position of the protagonist where we naturally must make a decision and not be just an observer even if it’s as simple as left or right.

  • Quin Siegel

    Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon-ho, is a fun and exciting sci fi film that runs for two hours and six minutes, but not a minute too long. At first, Snowpiercers looks like an average sci fi, action film, but it is a very telling movie about class warfare, inequality, and race. As you stated in your review, Snowpiercer does a great job of combining art and entertainment into one.
    The most apparent thing to me in the film was Bong Joon-ho’s Marxist slant that you discussed. The overarching plot comes almost straight from the Communist Manifesto as the proletariat, back of the train, are rebelling against the bourgeoisie, 1% in the front of the train, for what the film says is the third time. The poor in the back of the train are fed disgusting, jelly like protein bars that are really made out of ground up cockroaches. They live in their filth, get fed filth, and are treated by the rest of the train as filth.
    While approaching these topics, the film is also an extremely badass action film. The fight scene in the train cart with the torches was one of my favorite scenes in the film. It was very entertaining to watch and was choreographed well. I could not help but laugh when the soldiers raised up the fish and tipped their blades in its blood. It was so ridiculous, like many scenes from the film, that it was parodying the sci fi genre in a way. This was made more evident when later one of the soldiers slips on the fish and dies.
    The scene where Curtis and Franco have a shootout across the train carts was when I realized Snowpiercer must be mocking the sci fi and action genre while also functioning as one. The film goes in depth to explain the biology and chemistry of how the ecosystem of the train must be managed and watched very carefully. However, when it came to the physics of a shootout the film threw science out the window. The ridiculousness of Curtis and Franco being able to shoot each other while both moving 100 miles per hour, with extreme winds, through thick glass, and also doing it with sub machine guns is truly hilarious.

  • Brian Stern

    BONG Joon-ho’s 2013 film “Snowpiercer” falls under the classification of the Science Fiction genre. The basic outline of the story is that 18 years prior to the start of the film scientists in an effort to reverse the effects of Global Warming disperse a chemical agent named CW-7 around the world and rather than fixing the problem the opposite effect happened and the world begun another ice age. As far as we are aware as an audience the only survivors of this ice age are the people are those on a perpetually running self sustaining train circling the world. Each loop around the world takes one year to complete. The overall themes seen within this film is a somewhat satirical take on social classes as well as population overload. In terms of the class system in the movie they are separated by train car. You are first introduced to poor or the lowest of the classes on the train located in the back of the train even behind the prison and processing system cars. I found it interesting the way they designated the classes. Up until the point before they showed the rich or wealthy people in their respective train cars doing the stereotypical rich person activities the separation of classes made perfect sense. After that point it became a little hazy. It was hazy to me why from the back of the train you go from grime to cleaner then you end at a place resembling an opium den which is closest to the engine or front of the train. The only conclusion I could ascertain why both the slums and the opium dens were placed on opposite ends of the train would be due to the fact that many people are in a bubble. They would rather be ignorant inside it then know the grimy truth that lays outside of it.

    In terms of directing and cinematography I found this to be up it to be top notch. About a day or so after watching “Snowpiercer” I watched one of BONG’S earlier films to see if I could make any comparisons to what could possible be his style. The film I watched was 2006’s “The Host”. One comparison two compare the style is the use of comedy to move a scene along. “The Host” is supposed to have the feel of a monster movie but it is full of comedy elements. “Snowpiercer” only has a few such elements scattered throughout but over all keeps a quasi-serious tone. There are a number of comedic moments the two that stand out for me is the slapstick slipping on the fish gag and the over the top cult like brainwashing school teacher sing along scene. Aside from that I found a specific plot device interesting. For a film with a mainly English Speaking cast that is directed and stars Korean speaking people I found the use of the mysterious universal translator to be an interesting way overcome the language barrier. Usually you are use to seeing some form of a person relaying translation or a crude game of charades. The use of a device has been used before but most times when I’ve seen it used the user wouldn’t get a translation it would make it so whoever was in the vicinity of it would appear to be speaking the wearer’s native language. Two films that come to mind that use these are, “The Green Lantern”(2011) where the power ring among other things translates for the main character as well as “The Last Starfighter”(1984) where the main character in that film is tagged with some sort of translator circuitry.

  • Nick Weimer



    “Snowpiercer” has all its (as Weinstein might say) ‘arthouse elements’ without neglecting to work as a blockbuster sci-fi (while simultaneously making fun of (and embracing) its blockbustery tropes). It’s a good, fun satirical allegory, full of great, ridiculous action sequences, and absurd humor. It certainly deserved a wider release. I think it would have done just fine. Though it at least it brought a lot of people to the Music Box!

    There are a few great references I noticed*, mostly to Terry Gilliam’s fantastically absurd dystopian scifi film(s), “Brazil” (and “12 Monkeys”**), which Bong is surely a big fan of. First, there’s simply the absurd dystopian future combined with some old-guy leader-type named Gilliam. Already Bong has me thinking of “Brazil” a little bit, but then those elements are also combined with Tilda Swinton’s wonderfully over-the-top character who seems to have tumbled right out of Gilliam’s bureaucratic nightmare with all her amazing monologues (which are some of the very-best-parts of the film) about ‘knowing-one’s-place-in-The-Great-Train-of-The-Benevolent-Wilfred’.*** Then, of course, they put a shoe on her head and tell her it “becomes her well”, and it DOES; Oh how it does! I thought this was a pretty great, satisfying little reference to “Brazil”, that was actually well-tied into the story through Tilda’s-earlier-speech about ‘Being-The-Shoe’ (Which is just one of the many little metaphors for ‘The Metaphor’ scattered throughout the film (Such as the aquarium/sushi exposition)). The way the shoe-on-head homage is integrated makes it more than JUST a reference to something external. I think it was pretty well-deployed.
    ( )

    Also, there’s a ‘light’ homage to Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”. When they’re in the Foggy-Sauna-Room-of-the-Super-Long-Intimate-Close-Up-Deaths, the yellowy even-lighting is very similar to that seen in the The Gold Room (The Shining’s Bar/Ballroom (full of (SPOILER) spooky gho0o0osts!)), and the song that plays during the Gold Room scene can be heard when Snowpiercer’s ‘slasher-movie-villian-slash-hitman-guy’ is getting ready to search the stalls.
    ( )

    Also: I totally agree that the classroom/brainwashing bit is the best scene in the film, especially when paired with it’s violent ending. Does the rousing rendition of “What happens if the engine dies; We all Freeze and Die!” sort-of, maybe allow for an unofficial rechristening of the film as “Speed 3: The Science-Fictional Musical”?

    Also, Also: Where do they get all the bugs for the bug-bars?
    -=- =- =- -= -=-= -=- = =–= -=-=– =-== -= –=- =- -=- =-= -=-= – -=

    * Which makes me feel like there are probably a lot of references I DIDN’T catch.

    ** The conditions in the back of the train are reminiscent of the time-traveling, post-plague future-society from 12 Monkeys.

    *** And her repeatedly saying “So it is,” is, I think, a great reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five’s repetition of “So it goes.” I think that this homage effectively deepens the film by calling to mind the meaning of the referenced phrase. This is how homage SHOULD be used.

  • Esho Youkhana

    “Snowpiercer” by Boon Joon-ho has officially made it to my top 25 list of movies. The movie reminded me of “Max Fury: Fury Road” (George Miller) because of the craziness in the film. The movie starts out in a gray creepy feeling because of the ghetto looking environment of the peasants. The costume team was really well at showing off the perfect outfits for every character and class of characters. The film has a crazy and spooky thrill to it just like Mad Max due to the violent and bizarre acting of the characters. Lots of gray and black shots mixed with gore and steam punk. The movie is funny is some parts while maintaining a stressed and anxious type of feeling. The characters are serious when they need to be and playful when they need to be. The decorated train is mind blowing because there are so many details to every new cart train they enter. Every cart of the train has its own unique look and feel. Agreeing with Professor Smith, the classroom scene with the child is definitely the best scene. The scene is absolutely bizarre with how the children are brainwashed and how chaotic the scene is. Showing a different part of the depressing train, the classroom is filled with bright colors and decorations. The children are chanting What happens if the engine stops? / We all freeze and die!” The yelling and singing of the children with the dark feeling of creepiness makes the scene super thrilling. The movie main point has to do with society and pretty much takes a shit on capitalist thoughts. It has to do with classes of our society and makes the viewers of the film think differently (with the scene when Evan gets told to take over the train). The gore and CGI in the film are really neat and it shows off of how much a expert Bong is with the CGI. The world outside of the train looks depressing in a horrific way and the landscape really stands out. It speaks a great message dealing with classes of society and how they effect each other. The film was just pure entertainment and thrill which i really enjoyed.

  • Esam Mohammed

    The film Snowpiercer, does an excellent job at highlighting social problems faced by many societies throughout the world. Director Bong Joon ho uses symbolism and creativity to deliver his message to the audience. After global warming has caused the Earth’s temperature to drop, a small society of people resort to living on a train that travels around the Earth. In the back of the train lives the poor passengers whose living conditions are dire, while those in the front of the train are living a lavish lifestyle. After being oppressed for too long the back of the train revolts against the front and slowly fights their way towards the front of the train. What makes this film great is the details that are added to the story line. For example when the characters enter the classroom, there is a scene where the teacher,played by Alison Pill, mentions historical events that occurred on the train, such as the seven people who tried to escape or the revolution that occurred in fourth year of the train. Instead of telling the students why these events occurred, she ends with how great the train is. I believe Bong Joon ho was directing this scene towards the United States educational system and how some institutions cherry pick history. The small details that the director adds to the story line are what help make this film phenomenal .

  • Mouaz Zabadneh

    Snowpiercer talks about a man who lived half his life in a train which is 17 years and they were sitting all the way in the back station of the train. The world around them was freezing so they can’t skip away from the train otherwise they will die. The train supposed to be running all the time otherwise that people were taught if they leave it they will freeze and die.
    I think the director of the movie is trying to teach us that we might learn stuff which is wrong and then people around us might believe it too but that might be wrong and therefore we see the kids in the class they were taught that if the train will stop they will die, but the fact is when the girl and the boys went out of the train they were scared until they saw bear which means that even though it’s freezing out there but still there is people or animals living which means that they could live.

    Overall the movie was very interesting, and it delivered every strong message that not all things you learn is true and no matter how life is hard there is still a way to escape or solve your problems

  • whalen207

    Wow. Wow wow wow. I thought I loved Stoker, but this is by far is the best movie we’ve seen in class this semester. I can appreciate slow dramas and long romances, but what really drives me is well-choreographed action, attention to detail, and effective dialogue. Snowpiercer has all three.

    To mention all the “hidden” meanings in this film (many of them are quite overt, as in Stoker) would take a novel, and not just a graphic novel. I feel like I’d need a full encyclopedia set to record all of the amazingly dense imagery Joon-Ho has crammed onto the silver screen… but I can talk about the class-struggle themes, at least. From the very beginning we see Curtis bartering with Tanya’s son, and him wanting nothing to do with it. Mason (played by Tilda Swinton) spends a good chunk of her time screaming about how those in the back of the train should know their place: she is the head, and they are the shoe.

    Most of how the punishments, beatings, and full-on warfare by the “train police” are handled screams gulag to me. Russian ski masks, executioner axes and “night tactics” make them all the more brutal, sapping any pity or understanding the audience had for the group of rowdy policemen. I also adored the scene with the schoolhouse and I think Alison Pill nailed that performance as the schoolteacher, but my favorite part was actually the events leading up to the brutal fight in the bathhouse. The businessman/enforcer clearly represents the Orwellian trope of the capitalist “pig”, seemingly indestructible and completely devoid of morality as he seeks to restore order. I love it, and he’s my favorite character.

    Also! I know this review’s a bit late, but SUPER IMPORTANT:
    Every Frame A Painting (one of my favorite YouTube channels) has a very insightful analysis on how every single choice the protagonist makes in Snowpiercer is based on Left (back towards what makes him human) or Right (willing to kill, to debase, and to maybe lose his original purpose just to advance) —

    It’s a great watch.

  • Omar Khairi Mohammed

    In the film Snowpiercer, director Bong Joon-Ho tackles many political issues that impact the world today. One of the most prominent examples of this would be how the upper class members in the front of the train exploit the lower class members at the back of the train. An example from the film would be when the two children are taken away from their families, and later are found to be used as “parts” of the train so it can continue to run. This problem is very common all over the world, particularly in the United States, where billion dollar corporations are over-working their employees and paying them a wage they can’t live on. Another example would be how the design of train cars in the back represent a ghetto. It appears in the film that the back of the train holds the most people and hence it is crowded and they eat what is essentially garbage. In the U.S. healthy organic food is more expensive the junk food, so most people who are in the lower class are essentially forced to eat food that is killing them. The theme of this film seems to revolve around class-warfare and the root of the problem comes from the fact that many people have opened their eyes to the injustice that is being done to them by their wealthy overloads.

  • natalie choute

    I loved watching Snowpiercer!! This movie was made to attract the Transformers fan club and it trumps Transformers. I honestly don’t know if I would’ve rented this movie OnDemand versus seeing it in theatres because it’s not a typical genre I would see on my own. So with that I thank you for showing this film because it was great to watch. I especially loved the big fight scene. The pace of the movie moved faster at this point. The build up was great, as Curtis and the rest open the door there are the men with masks and axes standing there. As the men stand there they begin to pass around a fish, slice it up, and it’s thrown in the back of the cart, and the fight begins. I know the fish was so random to others but I believe it had meaning. There are larger fish to fry and the beginning for Curtis started there. It was beautifully pieced together. There was a moment where Curtis killed a soldier and the blood is on his face, the camera slides over to his friend who is watching with shock and disturbed look on his face. In that moment you feel this sense of pleasure coming from Curtis. Bong Joon-Ho did a great job in making each kill feel more than just that. It was thrilling when it shouldn’t have been. Each kill was very intimate.

  • Jimmy Nellamattathil

    As one of the best films seen so far in class, Snowpiercer is not only a film i enjoyed, it is a film by a director in which i am going to go out of my way to watch other films of. i enjoyed the futuristic setting and the action the film had to offer, as well as the acting by the main character, the school teacher and Tilda. The film was surprisingly funny, and kept my interest at the highest level throughout. The only part of the film i was not satisfied with was the absolute ending. I enjoyed the final scenes when anarchy had taken over and the train blew up, but to see the boy and girl as the only survivors was confusing. If the train held the last members of the world on it, and they were all killed except for a small boy and a drug addicted girl, how can civilization continue? besides the ending the film was wonderful.

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