If you watched Snowpiercer, you probably decided to turn it on for the following reasons:
- You checked out Chris Evans' or Tilda Swinton's IMDBb pages.
- You've got a weird affinity for trains.
- You were into movies from Korean filmmakers before it was cool.
I heard about the movie from a production assistant on a film who gushed about it, which is named after the massive train it all takes place on. And while I enjoyed it, the only thing I wondered was: Why does Snowpiercer circle the globe?
If you've never seen the film here's the skinny: It's set in a dystopian, post-climate change destruction world that has ushered in a new ice-age of sorts. It is very trademark Bong Joon-ho, in that it blends sci-fi elements to deliver a greater narrative. His 2003 flick, Memoirs of a Murder was actually about Korean History, but managed to deliver a really thrilling serial killer narrative.
The Host was about American interference in Korean political affairs, something that dates back to the Korean war, and was a raging box success in not only its home country but also internationally as well.
So Snowpiercer was immediately snatched up by the Weinstein Company for an international release. It also helped that Chris Evans, Captain America himself, was the leading man.
Chris' character, along with a bunch of other socially-repressed individuals, are forced to live in the back of a train that's circling the globe — something they're told is humanity's last hope of survival. They're systemically kept downtrodden and worked to the bone in order to keep the train moving. They're fed "protein blocks," which are basically just ground up bugs and don't have the luxury of fancy educations, cool digs, and gourmet meals.
The folks at the front of the train are the upper echelon of society, and the narrative features a bunch of poor and abused working class people fighting to get to the front of the train because they're sick and tired of being slaves. They slowly learn the truth about their oppressors and ultimately destroy the train.
So why does the Snowpiercer circle the globe?
Whenever you're creating a sci-fi flick, there needs to be a certain suspension of disbelief, but the more "real" you make the occurrences and fantastical world, the more satisfying it is for audiences.
Which is probably why more than a few eyebrows were raised by viewers when given the explanation for why the Snowpiercer train never stopped.
The "official" reasoning given by the bourgeois swine who run things is that the train is a perpetual motion machine.
Its constant movement helps to convert snow into water which is vital for the survival of everyone on board. Also, if the train were to stop, then everyone would freeze and die — not good, considering the world is completely covered in ice.
However, the real reason is something that's pretty obvious, although not explicitly stated, once the movie is over.
After the train's engine is destroyed and everyone goes outside of the train they discover that while a lot of the earth is covered in snow, there are areas that are definitely habitable. There's foliage and greenery. The actual reason why the Snowpiercer never stops is because it's easier to control the passengers in the back that way.
If the train is constantly moving, it's not like they can hop off and get to the other cars. This way, if things are kept moving, they'll have to fight their way to the front, in pretty much a single file line against their oppressors. Not the best way to go about an uprising.
Snowpiercer is currently streaming on Netflix, you can check it out here.