What Snowpiercer Was All About

What Snowpiercer Was All About

If you’ve been reading Kotaku and paying attention to the stuff that a lot of our writers like, you’ve probably watched Bong Joon-ho’s terrific post-apocalyptic train-tale Snowpiercer. And while the film’s allegory was likely pretty obvious to anyone who was paying attention, it was often conveyed in some smart, subtle ways.

This new video from Evan Puschak‘s “Understanding Art House” series delves into some of the tricks the film’s director, cinematographer, and set and costume designers used to conjure a societal class-system preserved in a single linear space. Needless to say, the video has
mondo spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the movie yet, go watch! Then come back and watch this.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think of Snowpiercer? Luke says that the comic it’s based on is good, and I’m considering checking it out, once I finish a few other things. Anyone out there read it? What do you think?


  • it was a pretty decent film, not happy with the ending though, plenty of good twists to it 🙂

  • I think I enjoyed this video much more than the movie itself. I’m a fan of Bong Joon-ho but I found Snowpiercer to be an overbearing piece of cinema.

    • As much as I tried to like it – I couldn’t. Far too pretentious.

      Just like Watchmen – Stick with the comic.

    • Agreed. I’m a huge fan of Mother* and think Memories of a Murder is quite good, so I was surprised to find myself left cold (wakka wakka) by this one. After all the positive press I watched it again. No different. I +rep Tilda Swinton’s performance, the design elements and the directors craftmanship in general, but in whole found it to be unremarkable.

      Its hard to pin exactly why but I suspect its because the characters felt like archetypes and lacked subtlety, so maybe the script sabotages it from being great.

      *if you ain’t yet, get onto this movie, it’s a cracker.

      • Yeah, Mother, Memories of Murder, The Host, all much much better films

        edit: ah, just remembered! His earlier film Barking dogs dont bite, also was a much better film ^^

  • I’m curious about this movie now since it has had a very positive critical reception. However, I can’t get past the implausibility of the first paragraph in the plot section of the Wikipedia page:

    In 2014, an experiment to counteract global warming causes an ice age that kills nearly all life on Earth. The only survivors are the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a massive train, powered by a perpetual-motion engine, that travels on a globe-spanning track. A class system is installed, with the elites inhabiting the front of the train and poor inhabiting the tail.

    Also, I can’t shake the impression of an analogy for human centipede where the back of the train passengers are eating the wastes of the front.

    • It’s a great movie, but you need to go in to it realising it’s not realistic on just about any level. It’s more of a future dystopian… I don’t really want to say fairy tale, but for want of a better term that fits in the old-school, darker Grimm sense.

      • I think it’s the details that kill it for me. If they said nuclear engine instead of perpetual motion I would have accepted that.

  • as an experienced and very easy going film fan – Snowpiercer was trash IMO. Just utterly overbearing and heavy handed.

  • I quite enjoyed it.

    I also enjoyed The Colony which got horrifically scathing reviews.

  • I seem to be a minority – I loved it. It’s not meant to be taken so literally. I enjoyed the nods to other films. Ed Harris’ Wilford is a dark reflection of Christof, the character he played in The Truman Show. John Hurt who played Winston Smith in the movie adaptation of Orwell’s 1984 finds himself in another film exploring class divisions (and the idea that if there is any hope ‘it lies in the proles’). There’s also a number of standout set pieces such as the gunfight when the train loops around on itself.

    I’m not surprised the film has polarised audiences – it’s that sort of film.

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