Saturday, July 12, 2014

Movies: Snowpiercer

(Drivebycuriosity) - Watch out Hollywood. The globalization is gonna eat your lunch. The movie "Snowpiercer" is a proof that action packed popcorn thrillers can be made elsewhere (imdb). The film is directed by Joon-ho Bong, a citizen of Korea, based on a French graphic novel ( "Le Transperceneige" by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette) and shot in a studio in the Czech Republic and on the mountains of Austria (Hintertux Glacier, Tyrol); the post-production happened in Korea (wikipedia).

"Snowpiercer" is one of these dystopian science fiction movies which are so popular, but the film is outstanding in several ways. Basic idea: After a failed climate experiment the whole earth is an uninhabitable ice desert. The surviving rest of humans lives in a super-train, the "Snowpiercer", which runs around the whole globe over a year´s time.

In the beginning I had problems with a crude left-wing ideology. The passengers where divided in 2 groups: An arrogant wealthy upper class who rejoice their lives in the front of the train and a very poor underclass who vegetates in the rear of the vehicle. This leads - of course - to a revolution. I think the differences between the rich and the poor are painted in too garish colors. But as the story advanced and became a bit more complicated and twisted, I got more comfortable with the plot (no spoilers here as usual)

I think the idea of a train as a complete and closed eco-system in an otherwise uninhabitable environment is an interesting concept. The train, which is very long and has many different segments, is comparable to a spaceship but it also can be understood as an allegory to planet earth. There is a lot talk about sustainability.

Watching the superb ensemble was really fun. Tilda Swinton - almost unrecognizable - gave a hilarious and gorgeous performance as a representative of the arrogant upper class. John Hurt`s appearance as a kind of mentor of the revolution also was awesome. The Briton is one of these actors who are getting more impressive the older they get - like Cocnac. Ed Harris delivered an equally remarkable performance as mastermind of the ruling class and a kind of elder statesman. The younger and more action oriented actors, especially Chris Evans (American) and the Korean Kang-ho Song, did a good job too. I also enjoyed the international debut of the young Korean actress Ah-sung Ko whom I wish to see more often on the screens.

While making the movie director Joon-ho Bong benefited from the long list of train movies which has been made in the history of cinema. I also recognized influences from some  surrealistic movies like the films by Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("The City of Lost Children/"La cité des enfants perdus") or Terry Gilliam ("Twelve Monkeys"). The greatest asset of "Snowpiercer" are the awesome  cinematography and the special effects (made in Korea!). I indulged in watching how the train literally pierced through the deep frozen landscape and will remember the furious final a while. Bravo, Mr. Joon-ho Bong.

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