Good Bad Flicks: Exploring Snowpiercer

Exploring Snowpiercer

Exploring the making of Snowpiercer.

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Was an "okay" movie to me. There were several timeline issues that just didn't add up when watching it in comparison between the person in charge of the train and the main actor in the "slums cars". Maybe I need to watch it yet again slower to make sure that all the timeline kinks match up. Although the biggest kick in the proverbial groin is that ending with just him and the little kid outside seeing the polar bears before a cut to black. Sure it's kind of understandable to the audience that the temperature outside is relatively many degrees colder when traveling adds wind guests, which makes to understanding the whole frozen hand scene in comparison. But honestly....nope, didn't like that ending.

I have mixed feelings about this movie. My wife and I were bored and began looking for whatever to rent on a rainy weekend. We obviously never heard of it and thought we'd give it a chance based on reviews. The political/economic commentary is way too on the nose and in your face. That was one of the main reasons why I disliked Elysium, and this was no different.

It did have some very effective scenes that turned your stomach. The scene with the guy who had his arm frozen made me squirm in my seat. The fight scene in the sauna was very brutal and uncomfortable to watch. I don't know if it was ever explained why that particular henchmen was so tough to kill, but it become somewhat funny after a while. It was like he was the Terminator. Then Chris Evans explained in detail how he ate a baby and John Hurt offered up his leg for dinner. I think I would rather kill myself if it ever got to that point. I know it was trying to make you feel the despair of the situation, but it made me tune out at the point. It was just too much for me.

I quite enjoyed Snowpiercer, but I think at a certain level you have to bow out of thinking of it in "realistic" terms and just accept that some of it is allegory. In the squalor that's portrayed in the back of the train, for example, it seems all but inevitable that amputation would result in a fatal infection. But that's not the point; it's about choosing to sacrifice so that others may live (as, as Cecil points out, the hero's ultimate reckoning requires of him) rather than accepting a predatory existence that is sustained by others' suffering.

It's beautiful, stylish, and moving, but it's a fable, not straight-shot speculative fiction.

Callate:
I quite enjoyed Snowpiercer, but I think at a certain level you have to bow out of thinking of it in "realistic" terms and just accept that some of it is allegory.

I'd go further and say it is "literally" an allegory, in the sense that they're not trying to create a realistic setting in terms of whether or not these people could really survive on a train like this. I think that's a problem a lot of people had with it, since a lot of dystopian-future sci-fi is speculative.

Snowpiercer isn't asking, "What would happen to people on a train like this?", and I think that threw off some people who watched it.

I'm a sci-fi nut and this is one of the best movies I've seen in this genre, even if there are just a few tropes and sci-fi isn't even one of the foci the movie has.

But I can't quite understand why it's so clear to you that the fishes were poisonous. It puzzled me until now, so thanks for the clarification.

I am a big fan of Snowpiercer but it is worth saying, as others have, that the film is not a science fiction film about people living on a train, it's allegory that sacrifices realism for imagery that makes a point. There's a ton in this film that requires studying its poetic symbolism rather than looking too hard at whether it makes sense in a realistic way. On its face, the poor, downtrodden slummers vs the elite is pretty basic but I think there's a lot more to what the film is saying than, "rich abuse poor and poor fight back for freedom."

Edit: Had to go back and watch again because I missed that post credits bit. Seriously? People complained about this stuff or were confused by it? The fish thing I could see maybe, but every other one of those "problems" or questions were either explained explicitly or seem really, really obvious.

Alao, Harvey "cut 20 min for the stupid people" Weinstein can go screw himself. I'm sick of movies having to be dumbed down to meet this "Americans are idiots and won't get it" nonsense. Chopping out all the character building and replacing it with some disembodied voice yacking at the beginning of the film is a terrible idea and I'm glad the test audiences said so. Yeah Harvey, you were so right about how the movie just couldn't work and yet also so right about how it would work great on VOD. The fuck kind of sense does that make?

Catface Meowmers:
I'd go further and say it is "literally" an allegory, in the sense that they're not trying to create a realistic setting in terms of whether or not these people could really survive on a train like this. I think that's a problem a lot of people had with it, since a lot of dystopian-future sci-fi is speculative.

Snowpiercer isn't asking, "What would happen to people on a train like this?", and I think that threw off some people who watched it.

It's no more complex a concept then Bioshock presented, whose plot Snowpiercer mostly replicates (but on a train instead of an underwater city.)

Then again, I guess not everyone played Bioshock. I know when I tried to explain it to my old college girlfriend, she couldn't get over the fact that it was an FPS. She was like "If this was a book, I would read it," and I was like "if it was a book, we wouldn't be able shoot bees at people out of our bee-hands." Maybe the same thing happened with the movie; people just got stuck on the idea of a train ecology, like a Roomba on a door stop.

Also, is it just me or did the comments on this thread from earlier get wiped by something? I know I posted a comment on this article earlier.

bastardofmelbourne:

Catface Meowmers:
I'd go further and say it is "literally" an allegory, in the sense that they're not trying to create a realistic setting in terms of whether or not these people could really survive on a train like this. I think that's a problem a lot of people had with it, since a lot of dystopian-future sci-fi is speculative.

Snowpiercer isn't asking, "What would happen to people on a train like this?", and I think that threw off some people who watched it.

It's no more complex a concept then Bioshock presented, whose plot Snowpiercer mostly replicates (but on a train instead of an underwater city.)

Then again, I guess not everyone played Bioshock. I know when I tried to explain it to my old college girlfriend, she couldn't get over the fact that it was an FPS. She was like "If this was a book, I would read it," and I was like "if it was a book, we wouldn't be able shoot bees at people out of our bee-hands." Maybe the same thing happened with the movie; people just got stuck on the idea of a train ecology, like a Roomba on a door stop.

Also, is it just me or did the comments on this thread from earlier get wiped by something? I know I posted a comment on this article earlier.

In noticed the Bioshock similarity as well. Reading the films description, and watching the first half of it, I can pretty much summarize it as "Elysium on a train". Then, about halfway through, they switched everything and delved into Bioshock territory.

Also, there are two Bioshock books out there. The first is BioShock: Rapture, which is a prequel to the original, and the second is BioShock Infinite: Mind in Revolt, which is a prequel to Infinite.

I always found it a little weird that everyone in the poor cars was shocked and disgusted to find out they were eating insects the whole time...namely after the confession that some of them had to eat children to survive. People- not even necessarily in just poor nations- eat insects. To a western society that might seem weird, but it's a whole lot less weird than cannibalism.

Even so it didn't make a lot of sense...the technology is there to manufacture stuff, and breeding insects to feed to people doesn't make a lot of sense when you can breed fish and cattle. I find it hard to believe somebody is running around collecting these roaches, either. Hell, with all the crap they can apparently make on board using child labor doesn't make a whole lot of sense either...

I guess that's my issue with the film: all of it's societal allegory comes off as either incredibly FORCED or unintentionally hilarious. That "babies taste best" sh** was hilarious when not one hour ago your were gagging at the thought of eating bugs.

So has this Weinstein fellow ever done anything good?

008Zulu:
So has this Weinstein fellow ever done anything good?

Mmm they mainly distributed (not produced) some good english films, 80% of their production/distribution is mainly trash in my opinion.

Naldan:
But I can't quite understand why it's so clear to you that the fishes were poisonous. It puzzled me until now, so thanks for the clarification.

Hard to describe exactly but the way they showed the blood made me immediately think it was poison. Glad to clear that up for you :)

Gorrath:
I am a big fan of Snowpiercer but it is worth saying, as others have, that the film is not a science fiction film about people living on a train, it's allegory that sacrifices realism for imagery that makes a point. There's a ton in this film that requires studying its poetic symbolism rather than looking too hard at whether it makes sense in a realistic way. On its face, the poor, downtrodden slummers vs the elite is pretty basic but I think there's a lot more to what the film is saying than, "rich abuse poor and poor fight back for freedom."

Edit: Had to go back and watch again because I missed that post credits bit. Seriously? People complained about this stuff or were confused by it? The fish thing I could see maybe, but every other one of those "problems" or questions were either explained explicitly or seem really, really obvious.

Alao, Harvey "cut 20 min for the stupid people" Weinstein can go screw himself. I'm sick of movies having to be dumbed down to meet this "Americans are idiots and won't get it" nonsense. Chopping out all the character building and replacing it with some disembodied voice yacking at the beginning of the film is a terrible idea and I'm glad the test audiences said so. Yeah Harvey, you were so right about how the movie just couldn't work and yet also so right about how it would work great on VOD. The fuck kind of sense does that make?

When I was doing my research for the movie I was heading to various sites and the comments I addressed were the most common complaints I kept seeing. Its almost like some folks can't fill in the blanks. (like them passing through the rich people's sleeping quarters off camera) I'm also convinced that some folks will specifically look for things to call plot holes when really, its just something that was left out because a movie doesn't have to show you everything. For example, how awful would it be if in an action movie if they had to stop every time someone had to go to the bathroom?

Ol Harvey Scissorhands keeps popping up in these. For someone with the history in the industry he has, he has made amazingly bad decisions. He continues to miss the point of many films and seems intent on ruining them for the sake of appealing to a demo that may not even be interested. The thing is, if they did release the "dumbed down edition" there is a chance we may have never had the DC released in the US. So many people would have only seen that version and had no idea the movie was stripped of all its character development and what not. They would just know it as a bad movie.

bastardofmelbourne:
Also, is it just me or did the comments on this thread from earlier get wiped by something? I know I posted a comment on this article earlier.

There was nothing wrong with the comments, what happened was I completely goofed in the video and re-upped a new version. When the new one went up it generated a different link which wiped out the old one and killed the comments attached.

008Zulu:
So has this Weinstein fellow ever done anything good?

He didn't meddle with Tarantino's films. I know there was a push to have Pulp Fiction put back in chronological order but thankfully, they left it as is.

CecilT:

When I was doing my research for the movie I was heading to various sites and the comments I addressed were the most common complaints I kept seeing. Its almost like some folks can't fill in the blanks. (like them passing through the rich people's sleeping quarters off camera) I'm also convinced that some folks will specifically look for things to call plot holes when really, its just something that was left out because a movie doesn't have to show you everything. For example, how awful would it be if in an action movie if they had to stop every time someone had to go to the bathroom?

Bit ironic that, one the one hand, I complain about movies being dumbed down and on the other, I complain about people missing what I would think would be easy to understand stuff. So I guess I need to square that circle. I think it's worth saying that movies are better off leaving some questions unanswered, somethings left up to interpretation or misunderstanding. I think great art leaves us to fill in some of our own blanks as we impose our own thoughts and ideas on the work. Cutting out the difficult bits may make a movie easier to understand but I think it also, often, may make the movie worse. Obviously I don't mean to disparage tight editing - we don't want every film to be a sloppy mess after all - but chopping out important story or character elements to make the movie as easy to consume as a bland dinner roll just bores us all.

Ex Machina is one of the more interesting movies I've seen in a while and it still managed to get an 86% audience rating on RT. Not much hand-holding going on in that film and yet somehow our dumb American brains managed to not go into seizures as we vainly tried figure out what the mechano-girl was on about.

CecilT:
Ol Harvey Scissorhands keeps popping up in these. For someone with the history in the industry he has, he has made amazingly bad decisions. He continues to miss the point of many films and seems intent on ruining them for the sake of appealing to a demo that may not even be interested. The thing is, if they did release the "dumbed down edition" there is a chance we may have never had the DC released in the US. So many people would have only seen that version and had no idea the movie was stripped of all its character development and what not. They would just know it as a bad movie.

I remember watching "Young Frankenstein," on TV while sitting in a laundry basket in the living room and thinking to myself that I needed to "publish" a weekly "magazine" about what movies my family needed to watch and why. I don't remember how old I was at the time but my "magazine" had several whole sentences devoted to each movie. If I could have become a film critic right then and there I would have. Then guys like Weinstein come along and make me remember that having a career in getting shot at for a living was a much better choice.

Anywho, I love how you engage your fans on here Cecil. I am living my childhood dreams of publishing weekly movie related content through you. Thanks for making great content and for being willing to talk about it with us.

BarrelsOfDouche:
I always found it a little weird that everyone in the poor cars was shocked and disgusted to find out they were eating insects the whole time...namely after the confession that some of them had to eat children to survive. People- not even necessarily in just poor nations- eat insects. To a western society that might seem weird, but it's a whole lot less weird than cannibalism.

Even so it didn't make a lot of sense...the technology is there to manufacture stuff, and breeding insects to feed to people doesn't make a lot of sense when you can breed fish and cattle. I find it hard to believe somebody is running around collecting these roaches, either. Hell, with all the crap they can apparently make on board using child labor doesn't make a whole lot of sense either...

I guess that's my issue with the film: all of it's societal allegory comes off as either incredibly FORCED or unintentionally hilarious. That "babies taste best" sh** was hilarious when not one hour ago your were gagging at the thought of eating bugs.

It's intesting cattle should be brought up, because while I remember them going through the fridge car with the big sides of beef, I don't remember them passing through a cattle car at all(not to mention what would the cattle be eating?). I kept expecting that the big twist was going to be that the big "beef" slabs, the poor living in squalid conditions in the back and the lack of noticeable living was all evidence of "The poor become hamburgers for the rich".

Gorrath:
Bit ironic that, one the one hand, I complain about movies being dumbed down and on the other, I complain about people missing what I would think would be easy to understand stuff. So I guess I need to square that circle. I think it's worth saying that movies are better off leaving some questions unanswered, somethings left up to interpretation or misunderstanding. I think great art leaves us to fill in some of our own blanks as we impose our own thoughts and ideas on the work. Cutting out the difficult bits may make a movie easier to understand but I think it also, often, may make the movie worse. Obviously I don't mean to disparage tight editing - we don't want every film to be a sloppy mess after all - but chopping out important story or character elements to make the movie as easy to consume as a bland dinner roll just bores us all.

Ex Machina is one of the more interesting movies I've seen in a while and it still managed to get an 86% audience rating on RT. Not much hand-holding going on in that film and yet somehow our dumb American brains managed to not go into seizures as we vainly tried figure out what the mechano-girl was on about.

I'm more for not dumbing things down as well. So many movies have been ruined by a studio worried about the lack of intelligence of the audience. Its incredibly frustrating to the directors who make the movie they want to make, only to be butchered by a studio who thinks everyone is a moron. Beyond that, its also because many of the producers themselves are morons and they need the film dumbed down so they can get it. (see the letter from the head of Universal who was insisting Back to the Future be named Spaceman from Pluto)

Gorrath:
I remember watching "Young Frankenstein," on TV while sitting in a laundry basket in the living room and thinking to myself that I needed to "publish" a weekly "magazine" about what movies my family needed to watch and why. I don't remember how old I was at the time but my "magazine" had several whole sentences devoted to each movie. If I could have become a film critic right then and there I would have. Then guys like Weinstein come along and make me remember that having a career in getting shot at for a living was a much better choice.

Anywho, I love how you engage your fans on here Cecil. I am living my childhood dreams of publishing weekly movie related content through you. Thanks for making great content and for being willing to talk about it with us.

Thats pretty much one of the main reasons I started making these videos. I wanted to talk about movies and initially, I was sending the videos to my friends from around the country telling them movies they should check out. It kind of went from there. There is the pipe dream of getting large enough to eventually be able to crowdfund a movie or even be large enough that a studio would be interested in funding my idea themselves. I have a wonderful horror comedy that I hope one day will be able to be made.

Thank you! I may not always get to respond but I try to as much as possible. You folks are the reason I'm able to continue doing this and I will never be too "big" to forget that. If not for you guys watching, I'd probably be back in a roach infested basement editing educational footage. (my previous job before I was laid off)

And the distributors strike again. At least it is not the studio itself forcing director down. I really really wish distributors would have thier mouths sawn shut and they would have a choice to distribute or fuck off. no buts no ifs no demands. their job is to distribute, that is all. and they should not be allowed to own movie rights. movie rights stay with original studio.

tl;dr Really liked this movie and thought it was more creative than the current tent-pole trend, hope they make more like it and you should watch it alone with an open mind.

A lot of this has already been said, but I think several people looked at this movie from the wrong perspective. On its surface it looks like a sci-fi movie, but it's really a fantasy movie. It's an over-the-top allegory. There's a giant train that goes around the world once a year? You can clearly see how narrow the train cars are but it contains all of these amenities? I'm sure there were practical production reasons for that, but still.

Cheesy Goodness:
I have mixed feelings about this movie. My wife and I were bored and began looking for whatever to rent on a rainy weekend. We obviously never heard of it and thought we'd give it a chance based on reviews. The political/economic commentary is way too on the nose and in your face. That was one of the main reasons why I disliked Elysium, and this was no different.

The central theme here was about balance. People see the political theme of class warfare, but they forget that in the beginning the "liberals" tried to fix "global warming" and ending up making the world go to (frozen) hell. When Curtis (the "good guy") gets to the engine at the front, he briefly considers that maybe Wilford is right, especially after realizing that he was working with Gilliam all along.

There aren't a lot of different types of basic plots, and people have said there are probably as few as one to five kinds. As the OP said, it's about the haves and have nots. I feel it was subtler than most like Elysium. The film is very violent, and it's about people fighting each other for power and resources like most medieval settings (Game of Thrones, Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood), The Walking Dead, most vampire settings, Star Wars movies, anything about the American Revolution or WWII, fantasy settings like Lord of the Rings, ancient world settings like 300 and Troy, post-apocalyptic settings (The Postman, Waterworld, The Book of Eli, Mad Max) basically any movie about an alien invasion or a robot uprising, most superhero movies, gangster/heist/caper movies, most Westerns, John Grisham stuff, and I haven't even gotten into video games yet. Haven't played Bioshock yet though, waiting on the remastered version.

P.S. If everything must be carefully kept in balance, why would they gut a fish because its blood was poisonous? Granted I only recall them killing one fish (which didn't even look like the poisonous type), but you're using an ax. What do you need poison for? They should have just served botched fugu during the sushi scene.

Wholesale Karma:

P.S. If everything must be carefully kept in balance, why would they gut a fish because its blood was poisonous? Granted I only recall them killing one fish (which didn't even look like the poisonous type), but you're using an ax. What do you need poison for? They should have just served botched fugu during the sushi scene.

I kind of took it as a warning. They were trying to get the rebels to go back to their cars and "hey, if the axe doesn't kill you the poison will". Just my interpretation, I could be wrong.

As far as serving them botched fugu, I'm thinking that while the mercenaries may have been fine with killing, the chef probably wasn't. Also, Mason probably would have had to tell him in some way and its doubtful she could have done that without them noticing.

 

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