In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine.
Genre : Action/Drama/SF
Country : South-Korea/USA
Chris Evans : Curtis
Tilda Swinton : Mason
Kang-ho Song : Namgoong Minsu
“They’ve got no bullets!”
This film was a pleasant surprise for once. Not because of the action but because of the deeper meaning. The train is actually a metaphor of the present world in which we live. A life that goes forward in a swift tempo for many. The train is actually a reflection of a micro-economy with a precisely measured division in different classes. The poor dangling at the bottom of society are in the final wagon in appalling conditions. The wealthier take their place in front surrounded by opulence and luxury. In between is the middle class who can’t afford the excesses as the upper class, but are still considerably better off than the lower class.
The entire film is set on the high-tech express train “Snowpiercer” designed by a Mr. Wilford. The train is ingenious. It contains an ecosystem to fabricate water from the broken ice where the train drills through and it’s actually a perpetual motion machine that moves on a global railway tens of thousands of kilometers long. This is because brilliant scientists came up with the bright idea to spray a substance in the atmosphere to get the global warming back to normal. This was a complete failure and turned the Earth into a huge popsicle and life became impossible here. Several thousands of people were lucky to get on board of this eternal moving train and wait patiently until life on earth would be possible again. Stopping the train is out of the question and who dares to go outside (My first question that came up was, “How ?” ) turns instantly into an stalactite (or stalagmite! Depends on how you end up outside)
There is a strict and repressive dictatorial regime to ensure that this society stays in balance. There is an underhand co-operation between the front and rear of the train. In this way milestones are staged to keep the growth of the population under control and the less fortunate retain a glimmer of hope to unyoke themselves.The only contact those poor souls have with the other part is when there is a food distributions composed of block-shaped jelly-like substances. Riots are immediately nipped in the bud and are usually followed with a flaming speech by Mason (played by Tilda Swinton beautifully) who has a sickly adoration and idolization for Wilford. She is a kind of “Effie Trinket” from “The Hunger Games“, only uglier. The final message is that they should be eternally grateful and are privileged to be on board. “Know your position, keep your position, be the shoe.” That’s the ultimate message. The shoe is used as a metaphor to indicate that they belong at the bottom of the hierarchy and have to stay there.
This post-apocalyptic SF was extremely entertaining up to the time they reach the water treatment plant. Till then it was a very gloomy picture. A picture we have repeatedly witnessed in our history. From slavery in the southern states of America to Mao Tse-tung. A story of oppression and slavery. The images of ragged people queuing for their proteins and living without daylight in the last wagons. The build up to the revolution and the ultimate breakthrough are successfully displayed. The revolution is led by Curtis, a leader in the making who has a rather dubious past on this train and leads his troops forward on the way to the engine. For who owns the locomotive, is God ! Along the way they release Namgoong Minsu and his daughter Yona. This prisoner who is addicted to “Kronol” seems to be a security specialist and should be able to open all electronically sealed doors. The moment the door opens to a next wagon and they are facing an army of SM-masters equipped with axes, is impressive. Even more impressive as the battle that follows. I ‘m pretty sure that Tarantino spontaneously starts to drool when he sees this scene.
What follows is a hallucinatory impression. Compared with this the tour of Willy Wonka in his own factory means absolutely nothing. Successively we see a greenhouse where fresh tomatoes are grown, an aquarium where manta rays swim around, a restaurant that serves sushi twice a year and a colorful classroom where a Maria von Trapp gives history lesson about the kingdom of Wilford. It looks sometimes like a Lynch movie where the screenwriter himself sniffed too much of “Kronol”. There were also times that I had a “Uh what !” reaction. Like when they were shooting with a futuristic looking gun at each other while the train made a seemingly endless huge curve. And the reason why the partying and “Kronol” sniffing in fur coats dressed mass became a bunch of bloodthirsty zombies, was also a mystery to me. I also found it strange that the passengers couldn’t remember anything from their childhood or life on earth. And it ended with a shrewd reference to child labor.The most positive supporting actor was John Hurt as the counselor of Curtis. Most negative contribution was Ed Harris in a Chinese robe. Totally unbelievable.
Conclusion: a sometimes confusing movie with a deep social critical message.