“Snowpiercer” (Netflix)

This movie is so not what I would ordinarily watch. Not big on sci-fi, hate extreme violence (always have to look away), and generally avoid films with titles that imply lots of walking through snow. It’s based on a French graphic novel, and the director is Bong Joon-ho, of “Parasite”, a movie I did love, so I was intrigued. Those of you who “enjoyed” the last scene in “Parasite” will not be disappointed. It’s hacking and dismemberment on steroids . We watched the movie with closed caption subtitles (why is the subject of a future blog), Here’s one example: “sounds of spattering blood”.

Without going into a lot of detail, the premise of “Snowpiercer” is how an attempt to counteract Global Warming has the unintended consequence of creating a second Ice Age. All life forms have been obliterated by ice except for a few . A prescient, but diabolical engineer has built a train for survivors, a train that perpetually circumnavigates through the frozen earth. Unfortunately this is not the humanitarian act one might think. and remember, this is sci fi, so it is allegorical. And it is Bong Joon-Ho, so it is violent, unpredictable and funny. First Class passengers live a life of luxury in the front of the train, next to the Engine, while the underclass live in the back of the train in squalid, Dickensian conditions, subject to the whims of the police and directives from the Engine Class. The Back Train people eat really disgusto gelatinous bricks for nourishment while Engine people eat steaks, raise vegetables, etc.,etc. After seventeen years of this and several unsuccessful revolts, another revolution is brewing. Great acting from Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, Chris Evans and Kang-ho Song.(remember him from “Parasites”?)and some terrific cinematography.

“Snowpiercer” is a precursor to “Parasite”. In both “Parasite” and “Snowpiercer”, we hear the voices of  Dostoyevsky and Marx, but in “Parasite”, the class system is a complex force. Unlike “Snowpiercer”, no one in the film, rich or poor, is an evil person. Both films have a Monty Python-esque quality. One scene involving an over the top, young, saccherine schoolteacher imparting Engine propaganda to small children, made me laugh out loud. In both, the endings are ambiguous and worthy of discussion.

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