Snow piercer (2013): A Train of Societal Implications

I did not realize this was a sci-fi film when I started watching it because my family watched it first while I was in my room and all I heard was some Korean, gunshots, and shouting, so I kind of just assumed that it was a movie about some government assignment to go into North Korea and do whatever.

It is not that.

Not gonna lie, I’m really proud of my title.

Snowpiercer (directed by Bong Joon-Ho) is a post-apocalyptic story of a world frozen over after scientists released a chemical, CW7, into the atmosphere to bring the rising temperatures of global warming and it worked too well. Most life went extinct, except for the people who managed to get on the train, which travels on a global track.

Our protagonist is Curtis (Chris Evans), a man who’s always lived in the tail section of the train, or the very back where the living conditions are poor and dirty and they can only eat protein blocks, which look like big lumps of black Jell-O. However, the passengers at the front are all living luxurious lives. Curtis decides that he and his people have had enough, so they stage a revolt to storm to the front of the train, to the Engine.

And here we have a rugged and handsome Chris Evans as Curtis.

Chris Evans’ performance really blew me away. I had seen a couple of his other movies, like Puncture, but the most memorable movies were, of course, the Captain America movies. So I wasn’t really all that appreciative of his acting talent until now.

Not that his performance as Captain America was bad. In fact, I think it was spectacular. I really liked the Captain America movies. It’s just like the Jessica Lange situation (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to my posts on American Horror Story). I didn’t realize how much acting was involved until I saw them in different roles.

The entirety of Snowpiercer fascinated me in a very intriguing way. My first impression during the first half of so was that it was very, very un-American. (Again, disclaimer: I don’t dislike American movies. Do you know how much I love Marvel movies? And actually, most movies I watch are American. I don’t watch as many foreign movies as I would like to.) American movies tend to fall into very similar categories and after a while, it becomes almost typical.

I do know that it is in fact based off a French graphic novel and directed by a Korean (Bong Joon-Ho), but that wasn’t until afterwards.

But back to Snowpiercer. The whole concept of the train fascinated me, particularly the class divisions on along it, and also what Minister Mason keeps saying about how everyone has their “preordained position.”

Here’s Tilda Swinton as Minister Mason, prime minister of the train. Also wonderful performance.

This is what I’m talking when I mentioned societal implications. And not just society, humanity as well, because as far as we know, the remains of the human race are all on the train. Everyone else probably died.

Snowpiercer shows the conflict of class, a theme that has been present since themes have been a thing. It’s the whole lower class vs. upper class, and the constant conflict that erupts between them. And then you get into the whole justice thing, because is it right to oppress these people in the tail section? The answer seems to be no, but how are you going to change it? Society seems to always divide people into classes, no matter what. There is always someone better, whether it be in money or skill.

And human nature. The revolt results in some gore and blood and when Curtis speaks about the conditions of the tail section, it really brings out what human nature can become, especially in the different divisions of society.

This is the very thing I would write a paper on. Except I don’t think I have the time to rewatch the movie (even though I would like to).

And there are so many characters I’ve left out, like the drug-addicted engineer, Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-Ho), and his daughter, Yona (Go Ah-Sung), and Edgar (Jamie Bell), Curtis’s second-in-command.

Conclusion: Snowpiercer makes the audience think with its strong thematic elements on society and humanity, spurred by the marvelous performances of everyone (it really is everyone, even if my personal favorite is Chris Evans) and executes a novel idea of the last traces of the human race trapped on a train with spectacular success. Bonus points for everything. 9.5/10.

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7 thoughts on “Snow piercer (2013): A Train of Societal Implications

      • Anyone not seeing the social implications and class struggles right away are missing much of the point, but the story itself offers the patient viewer a lot more about relationships, hubris, humanity, and more. It has it’s flaws for sure, and the ending is by the far the most intriguing part. It’s a good film for movie buffs to discuss.

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