Snowpiercer, Metaphor, and Systems.

Watch it.

Watch it.

Last week I released, Warbound: The Shield Maiden, the third book in the Domains of the Chosen series. If you have read my other books check it out and leave me a review!

While recovering from this ordeal I watched the movie Snowpiercer, an interesting movie that has gotten a fair bit of buzz lately because of the drama surrounding its release in the US. You may have heard of it.

Spoiler Warning

The movie is about the last survivors of an ecological catastrophe that has frozen the planet. They have gathered on a supremely advanced train that circles the earth, the Snowpiercer, where over the last seventeen years a sort of model state has developed.  The film chronicles a revolution in which the 99% who live in squalor in the back car slums try to overthrow their oppressors from the front.

The film is visually sumptuous, well-acted, and very topical. The cast is impressive. I would heartily recommend watching it to almost anyone I know. If you cannot find it in theaters, it is available on demand in some places (that’s how I watched it).

Here are a few of the more interesting bits.

  • The Metaphor: The Train in the movie is an obvious metaphor for human society on any level, shrunk down to a microcosm where history unfolds at an accelerated pace. It makes for a riveting story of class warfare in a rigidly authoritarian system governed by the passengers in first class. The Metaphor is heavy handed, but it is treated with sensitivity and massaged into a decent story.
  • The Train Itself: The Snowpiercer is an enormous train, billed as a perpetual motion wonder machine, where the engineer is treated a a kind of messianic figure. The train is impressive and enormous, and as the rebellion progresses towards the front we are treated to a series of vividly imagined train cars that serve purposes from luxurious baths, schools, and ugly food processing places.
  • Tilda Swinton: It is hard to stand out in a film full of great acting talent, but Tilda Swinton’s Minister Mason is an amazing blend of satirical upper class viciousness, dictatorial monster, and hardened survivor. It seems to be that a large part of the success of this portrayal is a dark version of a certain iron-lady, a very appropriate portrayal for a movie about class warfare.
  • The Action: Director Joon-ho Bong (You may know him from The Host, or other movies) does an excellent job in adapting action sequences to the unusual environment of the train, while at the same time evoking images of revolutionary and class warfare conflicts. This is the best part of the movie in my mind. Each fight tells a story. Each fight is part of a larger struggle and they all seamlessly blend together into a truly impressive whole. The use of light and dark, blood, the linear environment of the train, and shifting imagery really made an impression on me.

Go see it.

If you have seen it, think about what the movie says about systems.The train is a closed system. Those who benefit from the system, no matter what their class may be, act to defend the system during the rebellion. Some do so blindly, and when the system is revealed to be a manipulation they kind of go nuts. Those in charge take the more cynical, world-weary view that they are merely bringing order to the inevitable, no matter how monstrous their actions. Those who suffer most simply lash out blindly for the most part. The only solution is presented very starkly at the end: derailing the system.


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