A winter’s tale

exit A winters taleIf you aren’t completely burned out on dystopian fiction, do go see* Snowpiercer, a big, violent, gorgeous, baroque movie about the end of civilization, its last remnant perpetually traveling the ice-covered globe in a nonstop great big train. There is NO love triangle, with eros limited to a couple of crypto-gay warrior-bonding types, and plenty to thrill your (mine, anyway) inner ten-year-old, like an exciting shootout between cars as the train curves around an enormous bend. There’s high camp, too, supplied by Tilda Swinton and Alison Pill as the banality of evil and a gun-toting schoolteacher, respectively. (Wait, did I just repeat myself?) And Ed Harris is on hand, playing–spoiler alert–the very same part he played in The Truman Show.

But best of all is the look of the thing, from the icy landscapes and ruined, empty cities the train charges through to the train itself, from the squalid cars at the back where the slave labor lives to the sleek sushi bar, spa, and disco for the more privileged passengers at the front. One of the more subversive elements of the film is the way it gets you to think “why, yes, I could totally enjoy watching from the dome car as the world freezes to death. Waiter!”

The ending–spoiler alert again–is beautifully and starkly ambiguous. Life or death. I understand that the French graphic novel on which the movie is based has a sequel, but truly: none needed.

*In a movie theater, if you can. While the film is available on TV as an on-demand feature, you really want the big screen and sound for this one.

 

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Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

Comments

  1. “But best of all is the look of the thing, from the icy landscapes and ruined, empty cities the train charges through to the train itself, from the squalid cars at the back where the slave labor lives to the sleek sushi bar, spa, and disco for the more privileged passengers at the front. One of the more subversive elements of the film is the way it gets you to think “why, yes, I could totally enjoy watching from the dome car as the world freezes to death. Waiter!”

    Yes indeed Roger, terrific review from you here!!!! You make great points here. I did see it two weeks back at the Angelika in Manhattan with some of my brood, and was fully challenged and exhilarated with it. I’ve been reasonably impressed with this director’s past work, but this is certainly his masterpiece.

    I’d ultimately rate it among the best films of 2014 so far with the likes of”

    Boyhood
    Stranger by the Lake
    Ida
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Under the Skin
    Keep On Keepin On
    Bad Hair
    The Overnighters
    Life Itself
    Human Capital

  2. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    The NY Times online has a great slideshow of production design illustrations and stills from the movie. Really want to see this one! http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/movies/designing-the-train-sections-for-bong-joon-hos-snowpiercer.html?_r=0

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