So excited when my friend alerted me to the fact that Snowpiercer was screening at LACMA. For $5! (well, we had to wait in line for an hour and the movie had audio issues for the first ten minutes, but hey..)
Snowpiercer is based on the French graphic novel,Transperceneige, and is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a failed science experiment has caused a global Ice Age. A small group of survivors travel the world on a massive train that’s segregated by social class. When the poor, in the tail of the train, revolt and break through each car to get to the front, the elite, at the head of the train, crack down on the rebellion by killing off the refugees.
Before the movie started, the director, Bong Joon ho, came onstage for a few introductory words and remarked that there were quite a few women in the audience. He warned us that the movie had several graphic and disturbing scenes, so we should put on our seat belts. Everyone laughed of course, but he certainly wasn’t kidding about the disturbing part.
The movie raises several interesting questions about human nature, social stratification, and survival of the fittest. I was extremely impressed by the production design – steampunk! The plot is dark but also absurd. Expect strange and brilliant performances by Tilda Swinton and Alison Pill.
Song Kang-ho (JSA, The Host) does a great job playing a drug addled security expert. Chris Evans, who I mistook for Christian Bale at first glance, carries the film as the leader of the rebellion. He ain’t no Captain American here, and he takes full advantage of his multi-dimensional role.
After the screening, the director came out for a Q&A. Bong Joon-ho’s English was decent, but for the sake of time, his producer translated some of his responses. I didn’t catch the producer’s name, but his deadpan translations definitely cracked everyone up.
Responses that stood out to me *spoiler alert!!* —
Q: How did you get Tilda Stinton onboard this project?
A: I met her at Cannes. We had lunch together and expressed admiration for each other’s work. She said she really wanted to work with me in the future. After I started putting together Snowpiercer, I realized that there wasn’t a part for her. I was worried, but eventually decided that by changing the gender of the minister character, the role would be much more interesting. Tilda experimented with various costumes and wigs to get into character. She also convinced me to let her use the Yorkshire accent for the role of the minister, and we had a good discussion about Margaret Thatcher.
Q: Have some audiences interpreted the film in a way that is different from what you intended?
A: In the last scene of the film, I show a polar bear to symbolize the return of life and hope for humanity. However, some audience members thought the polar bear would eat the children and that the ending was meant to be bleak. Sometimes I wish I had used a deer or rabbit instead.
After the Q&A, Joon ho signed a few programs. It was late, so he stopped after obliging the majority of his fans, and got up to leave. Luckily, my friend called out to him in Korean and asked him to sign one more, mine! Thanks Yurie!
Going to keep this as inspiration for my future films and the hope that someday I’ll be holding my own “first look” screening. =)