Snowpiercer is one of the bext movies I've seen this summer (maybe of the year) and I can't get it out of my mind.
Yes, there's class angst, the reluctant hero, wise counselor, loyal followers, evil overlord with minions, all set in a symbolic context and all more complex than what's on the face of things. But scene after scene I'd think about how it embraces the American sensibility of movie tropes while morphing seamlessly into this other less Western feel through the storytelling devices or visual cues or pacing of the dialogue.
A few thoughts (Spoilers ahead):
Did you pick up on all the various economic theories, theologies and philosophies? The ones I noticed were Objectivism by Ayn Rand (right down to the great man and the train.)
NeoLiberalism (I just heard a story about the history of neo liberalism and it made me think of it.)
There are also various religious themes. The most powerful to me was the self sacrifice of Gilliam. Very 'Eat my body" and Christ-like. That sacrifice signified the Curtis of before with the Curtis of the revolution.
The other religions I don't know as much, but is caste and station in life Hindu? One other thing I thought about was Kronol. Time?
Remember the movement the child was making in the end. I believe that Tilda Swinton made the same movements, yet she would not have been small enough to be in that place (and too old) but it was a way to show that she was part of the machine. Also as I watched this movie I though about where I was on this Earth (train) as we go around the Sun once a year. I know that because I'm in America I'm near the front. Do I go back to the back and try and make other's lives better? Yes. But I also don't go forward to upset the train because my livelihood depend on "the engine" (the economic engine) If you do throw a shoe at someone in protest they hurt you. Also, some of us are the guards in the middle or like the guy who makes the protein bars. We are creating "content" for others to consume so they don't storm the train. Just focus on creating good content, and you will be fine.
What sacrifices am I willing to make to change things? To "give the leaders a piece of my mind." And when I do they say, 'Well what would you do differently? It's not as easy as it looks.' On one hand they have set up the system a certain way, but how they enforce the system also says something about how they want to live. Let the people kill and eat each other or reset the balance in other ways.
It's noted how the rich don't have to balance because they got there first (how?) but the "freeloaders" have to do all the balancing, and the balancing is done with the lives of their children or themselves. Never the rich.
To take out the rich and force them to make sacrifices (like forcing Swinton to eat the protein bar) is part of how things need to change, but the rich will not willingly do this. They don't want to think that other people are part of the whole, but they are, they need them to keep the machine going, otherwise their own young would have to do the work. Instead they teach their young that the people the back are dirty and belong there so it's not as if they could and should do any sacrifice for the ones in the back.
This film is an amazing allegorical journey punctuated by finely tuned action sequences and carried by outstanding performances. At first you want to fight with the simplistic and far-fetched premise. But soon you're invested in the characters, and then you're completely invested in the underlying message of the film. This is not a film about climate change, nor is it a straight science-fiction action film. This film is about purposeful and directed societal inequality deconstructing the definition of human dignity in the face of limited resources, In that sense, it's has DNA from some of the dystopian science fiction films of the 70s, notably "Soylent Green", running through it, but the message is very appropriate and has a very pointed place in today's environment of ever-widening disparities in wealth and enfranchisement. This thing gets it done on several levels, and we love it when movies do that. Watch it.
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