After the success of The Host (2006) and Mother (2009), Bong Joon-Ho has presented his first film in the English language, Snowpiercer, already gaining wild acclaim and a slew of rave reviews – to which this one will join.
It’s a sci-fi apocalyptic epic like no other, where experiments to combat global warming have caused the earth to freeze completely and the remaining inhabitants now live on a train that circles the world continuously. The train is split into sections for the different classes, with the working classes living in one cramped end of the train where they can only eat jellied protein and the rich elite at the other end, where they have classrooms for teaching children, jacuzzi baths and night clubs. Keeping the peace between the carriages is Mason (Tilda Swinton, putting on a fantastically thick Yorkshire accent) acting as messenger for the great Wilfred, who drives the train. However, a revolution is rising and leading it is a rebel worker (Chris Evans) and his friend Edgar (Jamie Bell) and mentor Gilliam (John Hurt).
It’s inspired by a French graphic novel, Le Transperceneige, so the mise-en-scene has the comic-book staging you’d expect. But it’s also incredibly beautiful and detailed, with each carriage on the train having it’s own unique fixtures. The New York Times even did a piece on the train’s design – read it here.
But apart from being visually stunning, the film is thick with political and philosophical allegory about man’s morals and inhumanity. In between action sequences, we see the character’s motivations and learn their back story. Everyone in the cast delivers incredible performances, in particular Tilda Swinton, but even Chris ‘Captain America’ Evans shows his surprising hidden depths.
In short, this is one film you can’t miss this summer.
Snowpiercer is showing at the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 22. Nationwide release date will follow soon after. To book tickets, click here.