The more that comes out about Bong Joon-ho’s upcoming post-apocalyptic thriller Snowpiercer, the more amped we get. With movies like The Host and Mother, Bong is a goddamned hit factory, so it was already high on our must-see list. But since the film’s release in Korea earlier this month, it has been lighting the box office on fire, crushing records, and garnering rave reviews from all circles. That sounds great, right? The problem is, as earlier reported, that The Weinstein Company, which owns the rights to Snowpiercer in much of the rest of the world, plans to cut up to 20 minutes from the original 125-minute movie. Chris Evans, star of the film, was recently asked his opinion on this piece of news, and the response, though diplomatic, is interesting.
This brief interview, from Collider, starts off with some less controversial topic. You can tell the interviewer wants to lob a few softballs Evans’ way before the main event. So they talk about a communal love of Dunkin’ Donuts and the excitement for the franchise’s return to the West Coast. Then we learn a little about Evans’ upcoming directorial debut, a drama called 1:30 Train written by Ron Bass (Rain Man), which I’m sure will be just lovely. He plays a street musician (is anyone else having flashbacks to Jamie Foxx in The Soloist?)
Then he springs the big question on Evans, what does he, as the star of the movie, think of Harvey Weinstein’s proposed cuts to Snowpiercer? According to reports, the edits will come from character development and story, because American audiences are apparently to stupid pay attention and don’t care about those things. Not only will that impact the overall film, it stands to reason that if you hack out a third of an hour of character, the protagonist is going to feel the burn. Thus, the performance Evans delivers will be drastically altered, as will co-star Tilda Swinton’s, who he refers to as “not human.” We should probably assume he means that she gives a fantastic performance, not that she’s an alien or a robot, but we can’t be sure.
Now this isn’t an entirely fair question to pose to an actor, as you’re putting them in a precarious position. Odds are that Evans has strong feelings on this matter—especially when you take into account how much he says he adores the current version—but he can’t really say anything and risk alienating the people he works with in a professional capacity. Fortunately, the interviewer knows this, isn’t a dick, and approaches the topic with a smile, putting words in Evans’ mouth with good-natured humor.
For his part, Evans takes everything well, but there are definite indications that he’s more on board the “it fucking sucks” train, and that he thinks the edits are unnecessary bullshit, though he can’t publicly express such sentiments. He never denies that the edits are a bad idea, nor does he argue in favor of them, and there are moments when you get the impression that he’s about to say as much. More than anyone, he’s well aware of how much impact sweeping edits will have on the version American audiences will see.
As a movie fan, it’s frustrating when this kind of thing happens. How many times have we seen an international picture, one that is widely accepted as a great film, get slashed to bits when it hits U.S. shores? I want to see Bong’s movies, not Harvey Weinstein’s. If that was the case, I’d watch Playing for Keeps or The Gnomes’ Great Adventure, his two directorial credits.
Snowpiercer is the story of a future where experiments to reverse global warming kick off a new ice age. The few survivors endlessly circle the globe on a train powered by a perpetual motion engine. Within these confines, a rigid caste system develops, where the rich live in luxury and the rest exist in squalor. This set up doesn’t sit well with everyone, and a violent revolution boils over. An incredible international cast, headlined by Evans and Swinton, includes John Hurt, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Jamie Bell, Ko Ah-sung, Song Kang-ho, Allison Pill, and more. Snowpiercer is out in Korea, but there is no word when the rest of us may see the film, or how deep the edits will cut.