All I want for Christmas this year is Snowpiercer. I mean this in the broadest way possible; I’ll take it in any form I can get it. Ideally, this would mean seeing Bong Joon-ho’s (Mother) post-apocalyptic adventure in its full, intact, director’s cut glory. All 120 minutes of it, which, considering I’ve recently sat through 161 minutes of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and 180 minutes worth of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, isn’t daunting at all.
That’s the preferred method of delivery. But at this point, I’d even be happy with dumbed-down-for-American-audiences, Harvey Weinstein-butchered cut of the movie, which reportedly clocks in at around 100 minutes, with 20 minutes’ worth of story and character hacked out. After all, five-sixths of a Bong Joon-ho movie still towers over most of what populates our local movie theaters. 83% of The Host — Bong’s 2006 creature feature, not the 2013 adaptation of Stephenie Meyers’ teeny-bopper love triangle — is roughly 1,000 times the movie Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla is. I’d even watch it with stupid, Weinstein-approved, Neil Gaiman-written voiceovers.
If you haven’t been following the drama, and who can blame you if you haven’t, Bong and The Weinstein Company, who own the distribution rights to Snowpiercer in North America and most of the English-speaking world, have been locked in a back-and-forth over the theatrical cut of the film. Harvey Weinstein, head of TWC, has called for significant cuts in order to quicken the pace, and because he thinks the movie is too much or middle-American audiences. It’s a nice way of saying he thinks the movie is smarter than us. For the most part, this has been a diplomatic struggle, though recently Bong’s frustration has shown through a couple of times.
Both versions of the film have been tested on American audiences, with Bong’s scoring much higher. In addition to this, Snowpiercer has opened in various markets around the world, and will do so at regular intervals, to great success. In August, when it debuted in South Korea, the movie smashed box office records, and it continues to gather rave reviews. The word “masterpiece” has been bandied about more than once. TWC’s stance may have softened somewhat, at least on the public front, so I still have hope that we’ll see Bong’s ultimate vision on the big screen. But like I said, I’m so excited for this movie I’d watch it in flipbook form.
If you’d rather not watch Snowpiercer as a crudely drawn piece of grade school-style animation, you’ll be able to read it, in one form, very soon. The French graphic novel that the film is based on is finally being translated into English for the first time. Volume one drops on January 28, 2014, and volume two arrives on bookstore shelves a month later on February 25. It tells the story of a future where experiments to reverse climate change kick off a new global ice age, and the only survivors live inside a train that endlessly circles the frozen wastes, powered by a perpetual motion engine. Within these cramped confines, a rigid class system develops, with the wealthy living in well-appointed luxury at the front of the train, while the rest wallow in squalor near the rear. As you can imagine, this breeds resentment, and revolution soon boils over.
Admittedly, asking Santa for such a gift may be a bit of a stretch. Now that Baby Jesus day is nigh, it’s increasingly unlikely that I’ll find a neatly wrapped Blu-ray tucked under my Christmas tree on the morning of December 25. That’s probably not going to happen. I don’t even have a Christmas tree. (No joke, the last two are still sitting in the back yard, and we didn’t have one last year, either.) But I’m nothing if not flexible. I don’t need to watch Snowpiercer on Christmas day, I don’t need spend my holiday evening gawking at a grim interpretation of the future, or see Chris Evans kickstart a rebellion. I’d be completely satisfied with a release date, or even a substantial piece of news. So keep that in mind when you’re shopping for me, Weinsteins. I’m easy, just pick a day, any day. I’m patient. I’ve already been waiting more than a year, I can hold out as long as necessary.