Snowpiercer is simultaneously the most exciting and frustrating movie in the world right now. Exciting, because everything we see and hear about it is fantastic, making the film sound as incredible as we all hoped Bong Joon-ho’s English-language debut would be. Frustrating because most of us haven’t been able to see it yet. The Weinstein Company, which owns the distribution rights in most English-speaking territories, are demanding extensive cuts to the story and character development to dumb down the narrative. The film has already opened in many markets around the world, to rave reviews and strong box office numbers. Try as they might, TWC couldn’t stop it from showing at the Berlin Film Festival next week, and here are four new clips to celebrate.
All told, there’s approximately seven-and-a-half minutes worth of new footage here, and it will make you hope for a swift resolution to this dispute. The film has already opened in Korea and France, with more countries coming shortly, and has been hailed by many as a masterpiece, or at least damn close. Hopefully the two sides can reach an accord—even more hopefully one that keeps the director’s cut intact—and we can get a release date.
This first clip lets you hang out with Tilda Swinton’s Mason. In the world of Snowpiercer, a new ice age has taken over the Earth, forcing the few survivors to seek refuge in a train powered by a perpetual motion engine. Inside, a rigid class system develops, breeding feelings of resentment and rebellion. Mason is the leader of the upper class, and she shows her prejudices here, sounding like she’s scolding naughty children, belittling a crazy-ass looking Ewen Bremner.
We’ve seen blips of this speech before, but this longer look introduces some themes we haven’t got much of yet. First, we learn that there multiple languages spoken on the train. Supposedly these are the last humans alive, so it makes sense the not everyone is from the same place. You’re also privy to some potentially religious overtones this time out. Mason speaks of people’s stations being preordained by the sacred engine, and it appears that in this situation, as in so many others, religion and faith are used as a tool of oppression to keep people from standing up for themselves. She obviously didn’t get the Christian virtue of charity.
As the previous clip shows the crowds of the poor who live at the back of the train, you see the bitterness and anger on the faces of the people. You understand why they’re mad, why they want to rebel, they’ve been marginalized and pushed too their breaking point. All of that rage, all of that tension, bubbles over in this clip, and the train erupts into violence. Led by Curtis (Chris Evans), the destitute rise up, overrun the guards, and push their way forward to the front of the train.
This clip introduces us to Kronol, a drug that is apparently popular in the forward portions of the train. You can tell they’re well off if they have time to trip balls all the time. A hallucinogen manufactured out of industrial waste, this is something Curtis’ forces will have to contend with because the security specialist (Song Kang-ho) their plan may rely on looks to be rather hooked on the stuff.
In this clip, you, along with the rear echelon passengers, get to see just how the other-half lives. They have luxuries like beds, space, and ample food. Their rebellion must be going okay at this point, because the residents evacuated in such a hurry that they left partial finished meals on the table to go to waste. For all the discrepancies, the key difference between the quarters is the fact that this one has windows. You get the feeling that most of these people haven’t seen sunlight in a long, long time.
You also get your best view yet of the outside world of Snowpiercer. We’ve seen glimpses of the frozen wastes, but here you get a full, long look at just how ravaged the cities and landscapes are by ice and snow. It looks fantastic, and that shot that pulls focus from the ruins to the ice crystals on the window is a move that’s pure Bong.
More than anything, these clips just make us salivate even more as we wait for the Snowpiercer dispute to be resolved. Let’s hope they get something done. Maybe we’ll hear something coming out of Berlin. We can dream, can’t we?