Sunday, July 06, 2014

SNOWPIERCER: some reflections…

After two screenings of SNOWPIERCER (hafta say, it's even better after a second viewing =), some top-of-my head *SPOILER*ful reflections, questions, comments…

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

Jesus Christ?
Yes, there's commentary on religion and authority built into the social structure of the Snowpiercer and the events of SNOWPIERCER, but I didn't take away anything attached to a specific established religion or belief system. Jesus Christ *does* get a sort of shout-out, but for me, more as *a* savior than *the* savior. I don't see Curtis as a stand-in for JC, but I definitely see a couple of references in the film that paint Curtis as a potential savior. Why JC? How about the Yekatarina Bridge fish? The masked axemen bring out a massive trout or some such and each man dips his blade into it, blooding their axes. I had a fleeting thought—should I recognize this fish as poisonous? Definitely not a blowfish, tho, so that doesn't seem likely. Then maybe it reads literally—YOU are this fish, and we are going to gut you. And even if that idiom might have passed out of usage on the Snowpiercer (18 years of protein bars), the action definitely serves as intimidation. Of course, if you look at the fish as a symbol, in the West, its probably most recognized as standing for Christianity and Jesus. So, does Curtis equal the savior? Well, ask the broken Christ/crucifix figurine we see in Gilliam's quarters at the start of the film. You know, the one that's missing an arm? =)

In the Yekatarina Bridge battle, Curtis slips on the blooded fish and falls. When that happened, I just grinned like an idiot and thought, "THAT is Bong Joon-ho." I've had this thing about his films that I love—his characters fall. I first noticed it in MEMORIES OF MURDER, when the detectives show up at the scene and tumble down the hill from the road. It just seemed so… embarrassing, y'know? Yet completely natural. Everybody falls. Even the creature in THE HOST (and of course, all of Daesu's family =). And so does Curtis. It's a beautiful (I think) theme throughout his work.

Edgar 1.
Edgar's steak. Edgar tells Curtis that he thinks he can almost remember the taste of steak. Given that he's almost a train baby, perhaps he's thinking of the taste of Gilliam's arm?

Edgar 2.
How the heck did Edgar get that accent growing up on the train, eh?

Edgar 3/names.
IMDB trivia claims Edgar is named after Edgar Wright. Are there other filmmaker's names in the characters, a la NIGHT OF THE CREEPS? (Terry) Gilliam? The Francos (Zeffirelli? James?!) ? =)

The Francos.
IMDB tells me that the two well-dressed enforcers who accompany Mason on her trips to confront the Tailies are known as Franco the Younger and Franco the Elder. The names suggest that they are related, but the few glimpses of interaction I recall from the film (also) suggest that they are partners/lovers. The Elder certainly takes the Younger's death verrry personally and fixates on Yona for it.

Franco the Elder speaks…
Franco the Elder tells Yona "No more bullets" in non-English. Is it Korean? I couldn't make it out.

What is Grey's connection/relationship to Gilliam? Adopted son? Lover? Both?

What Nam sees…
Love how Nam puts things together in the background of all of these violent events (and set pieces). Against discussions focused on the survival of humanity in the closed system of the train, couched in flowery propaganda and doctrine, Nam is collecting hard data on the world outside and building a key/bomb to open the gate that will get them there. First, the Yekatarina Bridge plane wreck. Then, the snowflake, which he can "read" thanks to the lessons of the Inuit woman who jumped from the train. Finally, the thing that Nam sees thru the windows of the greenhouse car and *almost* tells Curtis about, the polar bear. LOVE that he just trails off and doesn't reveal that last fact.

Nam was part of the Wilford-Gilliam plan…
So, Nam must have manipulated things to get himself thrown in the prison drawers before Snowpiercer's next population control strategy. Maybe he was a legit Kronol addict? Or played one well enough (along with his daughter) to, apparently under the influence, commit a crime worthy of the drawers? Or was properly framed for such an offense? Or just plain agreed to or was extorted into playing this part in the next revolution. Kinda crazy, but also exactly the supervillain level of manipulation you'd need to choreograph "The Curtis Revolution."

Gilliam might have been ready for a real revolution…
Early on in the film, Gilliam agrees very quickly w Curtis's self-deprecating remark along the lines of "not everyone is what they seem." Curtis says it to try to discount Edgar's hero worship of him. Gilliam throws in a kind of "you can say that again" in reference to himself, playing the role of Curtis's revolutionary mentor. Once the revolution has reached the water car, and Curtis decides to split their forces, leaving Gilliam and most of the Tailies in the rear half of the train, Gilliam tells Curtis not to let Wilford speak to him. That he should cut Wilford's tongue out before he can say a word. For Gilliam, this means that he hopes that Curtis will complete his mission without learning of Gilliam's collaboration with Wilford, and follow thru without doubting anything he's learned from Gilliam. Sure, maybe it was because the pop control plan was going off the rails, and maybe Gilliam realized that Wilford would be forced to exact retribution against many Tailies and especially himself, but I think the hope was there. Unfortunately, Curtis *did* let the devil Wilford speak.

Programming the children…
So sinister. The gesticulations assigned to certain Eternal Engine propaganda seems designed to teach children to be replacement cogs and widgets for the train (the way softball pitching in P.E. might teach a child how to lob a grenade at a target =). Mason and Wilford explicitly demonstrate the motions and the children in the classroom show that they've been taught certain motions to go with their songs. Would've been good to see the Tailies get some indoctrination, tho, to sort of fill in some blanks.

What Yona sees…
Is "clairvoyance" the way to describe what Yona demonstrates? She can see thru or behind things. Not necessarily into the future. She demonstrates her ability by describing what's on the other side of the gates between cars just before they're opened. Then she sees the murder and menace in Franco's eyes. Finally, she sees little Timmy under the floor panels in the engine. Maybe final-finally, she is the first child of the train who gets to see a polar bear.

The messages…
There must have been messages smuggled to the Tailies via the bug bars before the events of the film, but the ones we actually get to see revealed (that I remember—I feel like I might be missing one) are…
  1. NAM's name, in Timmy's protein bar. Along w info that he's the security specialist responsible for designing the gate locks. A vital component to any plan to reach and attack the front of the train.
  2. WATER, in the loose capsule in protein bar fun factory car. For Gilliam, where the revolution should end. For Curtis the revolutionary, as explained by Gilliam, a strategic target. For Curtis the future Engineer: a lesson in natural resources.
  3. BLOOD, in the New Year's egg. For Gilliam, he doesn't see this message, but it is his death sentence, for letting the revolution get too far. For Curtis the revolutionary, an almost-too-late warning. For Curtis the future Engineer: the death of 74% of the Tail population, a second lesson in population control.
  4. TRAIN, freshly written by Wilford. For Curtis, a final Engineer lesson. The train is the entire world, and it carries all that remains of humanity, and the most important thing he can do is protect it, no matter the cost.
Fight your way to the front!

Keep on keepin on~

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