Monday, July 07, 2014

SNOWPIERCER: bits I *love* about it…

Rattling off some things I *LOVE* in the film, probably followed by the rambling and tangent-hopping…

*SPOILERS* follow!

"A blockbuster production with a devilishly unpredictable plot." — Wilford.

The whole world of the Snowpiercer is a metaphor. There doesn't need to be any subtext or metadiscussion. Of course, there is, and it's fun and meaningful, but man, it's ingenious in its simplicity as a device that also works as an environment and world.

The broken one-armed Jesus/crucifix figure in Gilliam's quarters.
Take 1: A representation of Gilliam, one-armed spiritual leader to Curtis and the Tailies.
Take 2: Foreshadowing of Curtis's dis-arming in the Engine.
Take 3: A red herring foreshadowing of Curtis's role as savior. He's not truly a messianic savior type, but he is an agent of revolution and change. (I've gotta lock down my definition of "savior.")

The "laying of the pipe" that begins the Tailies' revolution, with Grey's ninja parkour delivered coup-de-grace as a beautiful kinetic climax and finish.

Seeing the American "doctor" from THE HOST as the Snowpiercer's bug bar chef.

The reveal/appearance of the masked axemen as the gate opens, just as Yona yells not to open it.

The Sam Sheepdog/Ralph Wolf break in the Battle of Yekatarina Bridge to acknowledge the new year.

"Surrender" and "Die" tattoos on "Snake Eyes" Grey's arm. So wish we got more of him, and the significance of his other tattoos. "Coffee?" "Tea?"

That Yona is "clairvoyant." Might've been nice to hear Nam try to explain it to Curtis at some point. "Sometimes she just knows things." or "She's lucky." Still, pleased that it's treated as subtle and wasn't over-explained.

Spark: Hrm… I'd dismissed Nam and Yona being addicts as a cover, for the most part, but is it the Kronol that enables or enhances her ability?

The running of the fire from the rear of the train to the Battle of Yekatarina Bridge. It starts in the dark of the bowels of the train's tail, the strike of a match in the hands of the young thief, Chan, who lights the torch. He starts to movie it forward and then hands it off to Andrew, who roars with it thru the darkness. I think it's "Snake Eyes" Grey who carries it next, and when the fire arrives at the Battle, it has spread and multiplied into dozens of torches in the hands of a swarm of fighters. When it begins, it really does feel like it starts in a cave, even underground, and in a primordial past. It could be many things—hope, love, knowledge, change, fury—and maybe it is one or many of those things in each Tailie's hand. In the end, it makes for a gorgeous and powerful visual sequence and a simple and brilliant tide-turner in the battle.

Slipping on the fish = BJH moment. Everybody slips, everybody falls.

It's horrible, but Edgar's death. Not because he dies, but because Curtis makes the decision to go after the high-value target, Mason, and leave Edgar to fight for himself. Strategically, it's a smart move, because with Mason in hand, the battle is ended. (We saw that it wasn't enough to take a ranking officer—"Surrender or die?" ---> "Shit.") It is a general's decision.

The Gill-ford population control plan requires that Nam is in a prison drawer. Maybe Nam was framed for a crime. Maybe Nam was extorted into participating (Wilford could use Yona as leverage). Thing is, Wil-liam think they have him right where they want him, but in fact, Nam is exactly where he wants to be. He's played the players wonderfully. I wonder if Gilliam, who's on the scene when he's revived, joins them, and moves forward, has any inkling.

Spark: Remixing Wilford and Gilliam—Is "William Gilford" (or Guilford?) somebody?

The arm-freezing as punishment. Horrible and clever. Also a great way to explain any conspicuously missing limbs among the Tailies before Curtis reveals the truth behind the early days of hunger, violence, and cannibalism in the tail section.

Everything about the shoe. That it's a shoe, which was chucked at G.W. years ago as a vile insult, a cultural learning moment for the U.S. That Mason turns it into a know-your-place teaching moment. And that it is placed on Mason's head by Andrew when they are ready to move forward.

The pause to record/draw the revolutionaries. All of the illustrations made by the Painter as records.

The sushi break in the aquarium car. A magical break at an oasis in the apparently endless desert of violence, misery, and injustice. Also a nice opp for a teaching moment about balance, population, and control. The aquarium as a microcosm of the microcosm of the Snowpiercer.

Everything about crazy banana pants school. The Wilford bio video. Teacher's mania. The Eternal Engine spirituals, and call and response routines—We all freeze and die! Probably most especially Tanya cracking her new year's egg on the head of the bratty little girl, tho.

Nam explains to Yona how the leader of the Seven is an Inuit woman who taught him about all the different kinds of snow there are, but he does not reveal that she is her mother. At least, that's my belief. Think about it… When he's at the window and begins to speak—"There's a woman at the front…"—aren't you just certain he's talking about the woman he loves?

The showdown between Franco and Curtis across that looping hairpin turn in the tracks. They each see the bullet that could have killed them, embedded in the train cars' windows. However, you'll note that Curtis got his shot off first. Respect.

What was Curtis at age 17 on Earth that he's such a remarkable shot?

That Curtis IS ready to take over for Wilford. He never wanted to be the leader, insisting that Gilliam would and should be. But from the start of this revolution (when he forces security's empty hand by holding the gun barrel to his own head) he's made the hard decisions of a leader, reluctant tho he may be. The math of it weighs heavily on him and while he resists, the survival mantra of Wilford and the spell of the Engine prove very compelling.

Spark: Hrm… If we're to believe in the Gill-ford partnership, then Gilliam chose and groomed Curtis for his role in the revolution and as eventual successor to Wilford. Is it possible that Wilford does not know that Curtis was the man whose attack inspired Gilliam to sacrifice his limbs? Wilford *does* refer to Gilliam's remark about it being better to hold your lover with two arms, but that just means that Wilford knows that Curtis didn't/couldn't give up his own arm, not that he was the man who killed the mother of the child who grew up to idolize him. So, maybe Gilliam's selection of Curtis as revolutionary leader and next Engineer was designed to truly change the system. Could the man who had witnessed this "miracle" of sacrifice (by Gilliam and the others who followed him) to save the children of the Tail ever be a man who uses them to replace machinery?

That Yona is the one to snap Curtis out of Wilford's and the Engine's spell. Yona comes to Curtis seeking fire, and when she looks into his eyes, she *sees* that he's lost, or nearly lost, to the Engine. Then—knowingly?—she turns her gaze to the floor and *sees* Timmy, performing as a cog of the Engine, and she scratches at the panel to reveal the horrible truth. Curtis has the sense to understand that Yona has *seen* something important, and helps, and it is exactly the thing that he needs to see to break the spell.

It does make me wonder, tho, how far or long could Curtis have gone in Wilford's place? At some point, he would learn of the extinct technology that's been replaced by children like Andy and Timmy. When confronted with that, would he do the math and arrive at the same result as Wilford (a "needs of the many vs. needs of the few"), or would he F the math and do something truly revolutionary? Enlist the help and resources of the rest of humanity to come up with a solution? Manipulate someone else into taking his place and making the horrible decision? Stop the train and let humanity freeze rather than sacrifice its young.

Like I said, I love that Yona's there to wake Curtis. How desolate and despairing that other path could have been! No matter what, when you come out of the film, remember that JHB gave us a *HAPPY* ending!

Spark: Yona's part in this deja vus me to DARK CITY, THE MATRIX series and SECOND FOUNDATION. She's an X-factor that breaks a cycle and disrupts well-planned, intricately designed system.

In a pretty wonderful and beautiful embrace, Nam and Curtis shield Yona and Timmy with their bodies from the worst of the Kronol explosion and the ensuing crash. Thanks to their two dads, they survive the violent reboot of humanity.

And speaking of happy endings, heh… SNOWPIERCER's ultimate reboot proves to be a Benetton world! The end of an inhumane system run by white people (of privilege) is the beginning of a new world blanketed in white, to be built and populated by an (ESPer) Eve and Adam of color who come from nothing.

Fight your way to the front!

Keep on keepin on~

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