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Snowpiercer, a science fiction movie playing in limited release in the US is one of the best movies about class stratification I've ever seen.

A short (no spoilers) synopsis:

In the near future, humanity finally responds to global warming with some sort of cold bomb which results in the entire earth being frozen over.  No life remains, except for passengers on a self-sustaining train that circles the earth.  

The train is divided by first, second, and third class passengers - all depended on which tickets were bought before the big freeze.  The third class passengers live in squalor in the back, the first class live in luxury at the front, and the second class passengers act as servants and police.  17 years after the big freeze, the 3rd class plots a revolt.

The central action of the film is the rebels fighting their way through the train.  The film is based on a French graphic novel, and the stylized visuals reflect that graphic styling.   There's a lot of violence - brutal, pointless, and often counter-productive.  It's not the pretty, bloodless violence of a Michael Bay explosionfest.  It's up-close, personal, and not without cost.

The theme of class is not explicitly questioned.  But the viewer is left wondering: if there was enough for the first class to live in spoiled, self-indulgent luxury, why did third class need to live in such oppressed squalor?  Couldn't they have divided up the assets so everyone could live moderately well?  Why did a ticket purchased 17 years ago determine a passenger's fate?  Why did children of the first class passengers deserve the benefits of their parents first class ticket?  

I have a lot of quibbles with the movie, including a major reveal at the end which made no sense at all.   But I was pleased to have the film explore the questions of inequality that are hardly ever mentioned.    Why are the rich entitled to a lavish lifestyle while others starve?  Why do we accept inequality as fated? Why do we stick to our place?  Why is luxury or squalor a birthright?

Without spoiling, I found the ending satisfying overall.  A good mix of nihilism and hope.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please keep comments as non-spoilery as possible (11+ / 0-)

    But please share your thoughts and feelings if you've seen it.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 06:43:49 AM PDT

  •  I loved it until the reveal at the end (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, amyzex

    I figured the train would be longer if this was almost as high a population as it was, and at times it seemed as though the train was very wide ;)   That said, I enjoyed it, especially some of the acting right up until the last 10 minutes.

    The last ten minutes did not work for me.. at all.   I literally couldn't make sense of it in reference to the rest of the film.    The reveal 'in the floorboards' seemed nonsense, and then I started to wonder about other things.

    Still.. compared to a lot of the dreck that has come out at the theater this summer (it's been rough) this was at least something that made you think a little.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle
    >Follow @tmservo433

    by Chris Reeves on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:17:55 AM PDT

  •  There's a consciousness raising event called a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, quill, live1

    "hunger dinner" for teens: each teen gets a ticket at random, and depending on the ticket you get unlimited food, sufficient food, too little, or none at all. The idea is that the young people can see concretely how food is currently distributed.

    My daughter torpedoed her youth group's hunger dinner when she got one of the rich tickets. She immediately went to the other kids who had gotten those and said emphatically, "Come on! We have plenty - there's no reason for those kids over there to go hunger!"

    Too often the folks with the rich tickets can't imagine anything else, not even the humanity of the other people.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:20:48 AM PDT

  •  ta, looking forward to new good science fiction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:31:57 AM PDT

  •  Hmmmmm (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, amyzex

    I thought this movie was really bad.  The political stratification of the train was good in terms of its politics, but the action and dialogue were really unbelievable and, well, silly.  I'm all for suspending disbelief, but this went way beyond that.  I don't want to discuss details b/c of your note about spoilers, but criminey. . . I'll just say this: without a tourniquet and power tools, cutting off an arm isn't exactly easy, quick work.  

    A friend of mine also noted that the movie seemed faintly racist: the white all-American looking hero, the African American earth mother, the weirdly mystical Asian characters. . . .  Conforming to pretty old stereo-types.  

    I really wanted to like this movie.  

    •  I agree with a lot of your reservations (0+ / 0-)

      And I wonder how much of the racism and unbelievable crap stemmed from the original graphic novel.  

      We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

      by Tracker on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:40:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not racist (0+ / 0-)

      It's the economics of a an international co production between South Korea, the US, and the Czech Republic. Joon Ho Bong wrote the script and directed it, because he's an SK national treasure, but to justify the 50 million dollar price tag, and the other 100 million for publicity and marketing, they needed to get some wattage from their cast. Octavia Spencer had just won the acadamy award, you've Captain America, which oddly enough is huge in Asia, and Kang Ho Song, who is the biggest star in South Korea.

      For the record, Kang Ho Song was originally supposed to play the Chris Evans role, it was written for him, but once the budget ballooned, they needed someone to put ass in seats internationally. That's the economic reality of film, it could have just as easily been Denzel and Charlize Theron in the roles, or the Rock and Meryl Streep.

      This revolution is not scheduled!

      by harrylimelives on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 01:23:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can't wait to see it but... (0+ / 0-)

    ...right now not in a theater near me.  I'm hoping the movie gets a wider release.

    " a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy." Matt Taibbi

    by Getreal1246 on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:35:02 AM PDT

  •  Average at Best (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    live1, amyzex

    Except for Tilda Swinton's performance in big glasses and false teeth.  Great, smarmy villain.

    The class issues and the climate change premise were just window-dressing without any depth, at least for me.

    Interesting to notice that the two climate change major motion pictures I know of (fictional), Snowpiercer and The Day After Tomorrow, are all about freezing rather than heat.  Prognosis is that deaths from heat waves are rising much faster than those from cold, although those are rising too.

    If you want to see a Hollywood film with real class discussion, take a look at "This Land Is Mine," with Charles Laughton, directed by Jean Renoir at the beginning of the US entrance to WWII.  I may do a diary on it.  There's explicit class consciousness throughout that film within the context of Nazi occupation.  Very adult.  It will surprise you by showing how dumbed down movies have become since then.

  •  I saw it two nights ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Would love to know which reveal you thought made no sense but you probably can't do that without spoiling.  The polar bear?  At any rate, the film's surrealism (especially the countdown and "Happy New Year" shout in the middle of the battle) was particularly gratifying.  The ultimate message was that you can either live in harmony with nature or become part of a monstrous machine.  The truth is most of us are somewhere in between.  It's not either/or black/white.

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 11:14:17 AM PDT

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