Snowpiercer hits Berlin cinemas on April 3.
South Korean director Joon-Ho Bong’s films are characterised by minutiae that guarantee authenticity – a quality that jumps off the screen in his first Asian-European production Snowpiercer. Co-produced by Chan-Wook Park (Stoker) the movie opens with the decision to emit an anti-global warming cooling agent into the atmosphere. Planes trace indexical stripes through a blue sky: there will be consequences.
These take the form of a new ice age. It’s 2031 and humanity is practically extinct – apart from an Orwellian memory kept alive on a train circumnavigating a petrified world. The sans-culottes subsist miserably in the rear, battered by vicious security forces in the middle carriages whilst the chosen few and engine-deity Wilford live up front in closed ecosystems of bottled water, bi-annual servings of sushi and anti-reality drugs. Visceral revolution is inevitable. As the leaders battle forward, justice and equality succumb to more symbolic forms of internal combustion. Magnificently shot in colour schemes that reflect social divisions and tightly paced with comedic diversions, Bong’s great cast and use of sci-fi genre and CGI-enhanced cinematography should satisfy old fans, attract new ones – and ease the way to European funding for new projects.
Snowpiercer | directed by Joon-Ho Bong (South Korea, USA, France, Czech Republic 2013) with Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton. Starts April 3
Originally published in issue #126, April 2014