For those of us who all really want to see Bong Joon-ho’s preferred version of his English-language debut, the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer, there is still hope. It was reported, gossiped about, and decried that the Weinstein Company, which owns the North American distribution rights to the film, was going to demand that 20-minutes of story and character development be cut from the film so the film would be more digestible for American audiences. Recently, however, director Bong said that nothing is finalized, while the film’s co-star Tilda Swinton did her level best to fan the flames of indignation.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, at a press conference following the French premiere, Bong said that nothing about the proposed edits has been set in stone at this point, saying, “It’s not true, it’s a rumor.” He continued by saying, “Me and The Weinstein Company are still negotiating about everything.” (It should be noted that he has recently stated that he has been working on a new cut for American audiences at the behest of TWC, so it’s out there.)
Snowpiercer has been breaking box office records in Bong’s native South Korea, where the film was released early in August, and has gathered glowing critical praise from every corner. People keep throwing around words like “masterpiece.” The Mother helmer pointed out that most of the rest of the world, including France, Japan, and most other European countries, have all bought the director’s cut, which clocks in at a not overly long 120-minutes.
Swinton was also on hand for the French debut, though the esoteric actress, never one to be shy about her feeling, was significantly less diplomatic. She said, “There’s no question that all English speaking audiences deserve to see director Bong’s cut, and we hope very much that we will all see it.”
Maybe an effect of the film, it just occurred to me, is that when one has spent two hours in the claustrophobia of this train we can leave the cinema and feel the relief that we can make life wider, so maybe it’s a sort of aversion therapy to sit in the train for two hours.
And before leaving, she couldn’t help getting in one last jab, adding, “That’s two hours, not one hour and forty minutes.”
Many people, myself included, jumped to the conclusion that the edits were a done deal, citing Harvey Weinstein’s notoriously snippy hands. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s hacked a film to bits. I do desperately hope that these words are true, and that there is still a chance that we’ll see Bong’s final cut of the film in North American theaters. The man is a goddamned hit factory, and I’ve been slobbering over this film since day one. Perhaps, as the film gains traction across the world, TWC will see that people are fine with the film the way it is, and let it be.
An adaptation of the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, Snowpiercer is the story of a future where attempts to reverse global climate change have resulted in a new ice age. The last handful of human survivors lives inside of a train, powered by a perpetual motion engine, that endlessly circles the frozen wastes. Within these confines a strict caste system develops, and with it boiling resentment that eventually erupts in full-scale class warfare. In addition to Swinton, Snowpiercer also stars Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Song Kang-ho, Jamie Bell, Ko Ah-sung, and Allison Pill. There’s no scheduled release date for the US, but hopefully there will be a decision made on these edits soon, and we’ll get one before too long.