May I Recommend a Post-Apocalyptic Movie, a Brilliant Thesis about Society: Joon-ho Bong’s ‘Snowpiercer’, Based on the French Graphic Novel ‘le Transperceneige’

via chycho


Note: If you are a post-apocalyptic movie aficionado and appreciate the ones that provide an in-depth critique of our civilization and the problems that we face, then you should skip the write-up below and just watch Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Snowpiercer’, especially if you enjoy accessible Korean movies – the dialogue in the movie is mainly in English.

If you do plan on reading what’s below, please keep in mind that I don’t like providing spoilers, so I’ve refrained from discussing too many details, but instead have approached this write-up as a recommendation. The write-up will probably make more sense post-viewing.

There is a certain intensity about Koreans. I realized this during the early 1990’s while attending university. One of my roommates was Korean and he was kind enough to introduce me to his world. We became very close and he and his friends welcomed me into their midst. I spent a good three years among them.

I learned a lot about Korea during that period: the history of its people, their traditions, their passions, the depth of their camaraderie, the honor that they are bound to, and their love of gambling, drinking, and eating – so much eating, drinking, and gambling.

I tell you this because where they come from is ingrained in the Korean psyche, and if you know anything about their history, you will know why, and if you know this about Koreans then you will appreciate their movies that much more, which brings us to Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 masterpiece, ‘Snowpiercer’.

Snowpiercer is a post-apocalyptic movie based on the French graphic novel ‘Le Transperceneige’. The setting of the story is as follows:

“In the near future, 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.”

English translation of ‘Le Transperceneige’, the French graphic novel created by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette – source – click to enlarge

There are two main types of post-apocalyptic movies; the ones that are meant just for entertainment, and the ones that are not just about entertaining us but about providing a critical analysis of our society. Snowpiercer is of the latter type and one of the best that you will ever come across from this genre.

What makes this movie a masterpiece is the ease and simplicity in which it depicts humanities current predicaments: how a closed system has to manage growth, the problem of compartmentalization of life, the totalitarianist desire to control information and discourse, the way our class structures are set, how we educate and recollect history, how leaders are chosen and the burden of responsibility we bear, the workers, pawns, generals, denialists, and fanatics in the game, the conspiracies at play, and why at some point we must put our bodies upon the gears and stop the machine from churning:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!” – Mario Savio, Sproul Hall, University of California, Berkeley, 2 December 1964.

I’ll refrain from discussing the movie any further and just provide the trailer below, however, I don’t recommend watching it since it contains a lot of spoilers, spoilers that are best left unseen.

If you would like to experience the full brilliance of Snowpiercer, with its gradual revelations depicting bare the insanity of our society, just go directly to watching the movie; it is bound to stay with you for quite some time.

Snowpiercer International Trailer (2013) – Chris Evans Movie HD

Cover of graphic novel created by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette – source: “Snowpiercer: The Most Overlooked Comics Film of 2013?”

11 Comments on "May I Recommend a Post-Apocalyptic Movie, a Brilliant Thesis about Society: Joon-ho Bong’s ‘Snowpiercer’, Based on the French Graphic Novel ‘le Transperceneige’"

  1. Echar Lailoken | May 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm |

    I watched this movie about a month back. I enjoyed it.

  2. Tchoutoye | May 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm |

    Haven’t seen it yet but I’m a big fan of (most of) Bong Joon-ho’s previous films. The general premise sounds a bit ridiculous but I guess it could work as a metaphor.

  3. erte4wt4etrg | May 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm |

    Perpetual motion engine, lol sounds good

  4. Anarchy Pony | May 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm |

    Sounds pretty cool.

  5. Post-apocalyptic film and music are guilty pleasures of mine, thanks for sharing this. Allow me to share my favorite apocalyptic bands…

  6. Rhoid Rager | May 20, 2014 at 9:23 am |

    Watched it this evening. I thought it was brilliant. I even showed my kids and explained the societal metaphor to them. *potential spoiler here, so stop reading* The narrative arc was crisp, clear and classically aligned with the most compelling storytelling. The beginning exposition lures the viewer in with incipient frustration, and then graciously jumps into full throttle rising action with ‘feel-good’ vengeance aimed at oppressors. As the story turns to crisis, the viewer is left suspended in both disbelief and disgust at the turn of events and indifference of fellow passengers, until the final powerful crescendo–a real Neo-meets-the-Architect moment. The resolution is spectacular, fitting and reflective of current ideologies bent on (and by) revolt. The final denouement is poignant, but stark.
    Following this kind of classical narrative arc seemed important for Bong, since, if the viewer were to pay attention to the story behind every major character, a fractal-like narrative arc could be traceable in them all. This masterpiece will be recognized for what it is, eventually.

  7. Antediluviancurrent | May 20, 2014 at 8:41 pm |

    Great movie. I saw in it a critique of (Neo-)Malthusian thinking and just every naturalizing of social inequality.

    Also, what I liked was how from wagon to wagon, the rebels are infuriated as they see more and more the luxury and extravagance of the elite.
    While the middle and low classes of this world are conditioned to turn on their TV’s to slobber over the lavishing of celebrities and royalty.

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