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Snowpiercer

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This may be a digression, but I'm going to raise it here. If it needs its own thread, I can create one.

 

I keep reading "nihilism" in regard to this film, and, knowing that I sometimes enjoy darker films, decided I better make sure I know what the term means. Here's what I found:

 

ni·hil·ism pron.jpg (nimacr.gifprime.gifschwa.gif-libreve.gifzlprime.gifschwa.gifm, nemacr.gifprime.gif-) KEY

NOUN:
 

  1. Philosophy
    1. An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence.
    2. A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.
  2. Rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief.
  3. The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.
  4. also Nihilism A diffuse, revolutionary movement of mid 19th-century Russia that scorned authority and tradition and believed in reason, materialism, and radical change in society and government through terrorism and assassination.
  5. Psychiatry A delusion, experienced in some mental disorders, that the world or one's mind, body, or self does not exist.

 My question: When, if ever, is a nihilistic film one that's worthy of admiration? Can you think of nihistic films you've enjoyed? And if so, would "nihilism" rule out enjoyment of Snowpiercer?

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Certain kinds of nihilism are more palatable to me than others (I find value in the nihilistic works of Kubrick or Polanski, but largely reject the nihilistic works of Fincher or Von Trier). It would take me quite a while to sort out the various distinctions that can be made there, but, suffice to say, there are honest forms of nihilism that are keenly considered, deeply challenging, and sincerely felt. I find engaging with that sort of nihilism rewarding. But I have a very low tolerance for forms of nihilism that are callous and/or thoughtless.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I'm hoping to watch this tonight. I've hoped to see it in the theater, but given the choice of $12 for the big screen at a theater far from home or $6.99 for watching it at home on Vudu.com, I think tonight is a Vudu night.

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Anyone else seen this one yet? 

 

Yes. It is odd that criticism is focused so much on the ideology of the film, as I don't think the film has much of an ideology. Like much good sci-fi, it tells a story set in the future which contains elements of the present, yet doesn't feel the need to get all preachy and stuff. 

Edited by M. Leary

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I'm hoping to watch this tonight. I've hoped to see it in the theater, but given the choice of $12 for the big screen at a theater far from home or $6.99 for watching it at home on Vudu.com, I think tonight is a Vudu night.

I get this and figure I'll have to make the same sort of calls in the not too distant future, but most of what I've read about this film makes me think a big-screen treatment would be best. I'd be curious to hear from those who have seen it if they think watching it on a smaller screen at home would hurt perceptions of Snowpiercer

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I saw it last night and liked it a lot. The first half or so, I was alternately impressed and annoyed: impressed at the sheer imaginative vision; annoyed at the lack of definition given to Chris Evans' character and some of the action scenes, which were a bit too chaotic for my taste. Gradually, my annoyance diminished and my admiration increased. I like the variety of tone and atmosphere in the different parts of the train, and the very different ways the fight scenes play out in different sections.

 

I'm more sympathetic to Jacobin's take than biblioklept's. As for the ending:

 

I found it very hopeful, though the obvious stock footage marred the effect a little. It's true that realistically, the young couple's prospects aren't good - they have no obvious way to obtain food or shelter, etc. But I don't think that's important, because, let's remember, the main plot device in this film is a perpetual motion machine, and that means that realism is off the table from the start. This isn't really hard science fiction any more than is the work of George Orwell.

 

And do see it in the theater if you can. Despite the limited release, this is a true blockbuster experience and is quite spectacular as such.

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Anyone else seen this one yet? 

 

Yes. It is odd that criticism is focused so much on the ideology of the film, as I don't think the film has much of an ideology. Like much good sci-fi, it tells a story set in a future which contains elements of the present, yet doesn't feel the need to get all preachy and stuff. 

 

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First impressions.

 

And the ending? Hopeful? Bleak? Optimistic? Pessimistic? Yes. Wickedly brilliant final scene can be read every which way, It encompasses both the way a Terry Gilliam studio cut would end and the way a Terry Gilliam director's cut would end.

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Nihilism for me usually means something like one or more of the following:

  • Human value judgments of good and evil are ultimately arbitrary or meaningless. The universe doesn't care. (Implicitly, either God doesn't exist, or he doesn't care, or he's a monster, etc.)
  • Human moral effort is ultimately pointless and banal, since evil is too mysterious or powerful to be overcome.
  • Existence itself, or life, or humanity, is meaningless, either because seemingly meaningless events are arbitrary, or because it all comes to nothing in the end. (Not all works that depict everything coming to nothing are inherently nihilistic, but that is one perspective on this arc.)
Art, like the human person, is inherently ordered toward meaning, so a truly nihilistic aesthetic, an aesthetic of meaninglessness, is a perversion of art. In principle, worthwhile art may perhaps (to use a word that's come up in another thread) cross-examine meaning, or express the human experience of despair, without denying meaning itself. I would say this is playing with fire, and while I would never say playing with fire is inherently wrong, it's probably inherently dangerous and problematic.

Curtis's uprising is initially presented within a narrative context that establishes an apparent moral framework: the oppressed and abused rising up against their oppressors in the hope of establishing a more just order. This narrative framework is ultimately thoroughly dismantled and debunked by the revelations that not only was the uprising expected and intended by the oppressors as part of the perpetuation of their own regime, but Curtis's mentor Gilliam was supposedly in cahoots with Wilford all the time. Moreover, another enigmatic locus of meaning, the perception that the rebellion was being furtively aided by secret messages from a knowledgeable ally placed higher up in the train, is also debunked.

At the climax, Curtis is faced with the revelation that

literally everything he believed was a lie, that everything he and his allies suffered and planned and killed and died for, every single action we have watched in the film, has taken place within a narrative context that deprives it of any moral meaning, or any meaning at all except that presented by a quasi-divine monster.

To the extent that the train is the world, and Wilfred a divine figure, the film certainly presents a nihilistic framework at least in senses 1 and 2, if not sense 3. Of course there's always the question whether a God figure actually represents God, or human beings "playing God," or false human ideas of God, etc., but in this case the metaphor seems more potent than usual. (For instance, in The Truman Show there were convincing grounds for seeing Christof as a man playing God with Truman's life rather than an actual God figure. For one thing, Christof was not the master of all humanity; his actions existed within a larger social context in which they could be judged by others, and in which Truman could take his rightful place.)

The very Gilliamesque stylizations of the narrative; the sense of overwrought fairy tale or parable or metaphor; Wilfred's quasi-divine engine; the universality of his train; its once-a-year circuit (like the earth orbiting the sun); and the mathematical exactness of his ability to preordain and accomplish his will through even the most seemingly recalcitrant means: all these things argue for Gilliam as a God figure.

The only hope for meaning is the hope of breaking out of the system and finding meaning Outside. It is possible to see the polar bear as a symbol of created goodness, life, hope, etc. Or one can see it as the embodiment of the uncaring universe that crushes and devours us. It's a very tenuous narrative thread on which to hang all the hopes that have been dashed by the revelations of the previous quarter hour.

It doesn't help that the only references to "sacredness" and "divinity" involve Wilfred and his engine. If there were any hint of a larger concept of sacredness or divinity, it could go a long way toward establishing a larger framework of meaning.

Something else that doesn't help: the extremeness of the brutality to which we've been subjected. I can endure horrifying violence in the service of a story in which I can argue with some confidence for a moral vision. In a story that invites responses such as "Hopeful? Bleak? Optimistic? Pessimistic? Yes" from its admirers, it becomes harder for me to justify the dehumanizing effects of the violence itself. The prospect of sitting through the film a second time — going through all that horror and gruesomeness knowing what I know now about what it all means and/or doesn't mean — I find it hard to imagine. And I almost never say that about a movie that I find as fascinating as this one.

Yes, I said fascinating. I am not necessarily arguing to condemn the film. I am presenting what seems to me the evidence against the film. I would be happy for a persuasive rebuttal.

Edited by SDG

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Since I asked the question about nihilism, I owe a thanks to you, SDG, for that lengthy response, although I'm not able to fully engage it. I have yet to see the film and don't want to read the spoilers you've hidden in your post. I'll revisit it after I've seen the film.

 

I do wonder, though, about the opening of your post, in which you state what nihilism means "for me." Are you suggesting that the dictionary definition I posted above doesn't accurately capture nihilism? Your definition seems pretty similar to what I posted, but I think there must be some difference you're getting at in restating your own definition of the term. I don't mean to make a mountain out of a molehill; I'm just wondering if there's something to your stated definition of the term that I'm missing, or that you intended to highlight in contrast to the definition I posted earlier. If so, I think I'm missing the distinction. If not, are you saying that you have a different definition of the term than the dictionary gives, and that we should align with your definition rather than the dictionary's?

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Something else that doesn't help: the extremeness of the brutality to which we've been subjected. I can endure horrifying violence in the service of a story in which I can argue with some confidence for a moral vision. In a story that invites responses such as "Hopeful? Bleak? Optimistic? Pessimistic? Yes" from its admirers, it becomes harder for me to justify the dehumanizing effects of the violence itself. The prospect of sitting through the film a second time — going through all that horror and gruesomeness knowing what I know now about what it all means and/or doesn't mean — I find it hard to imagine. 

 

 

This point is worthy of consideration.

 

I mentioned above that I think the film lacks an ideology, making commentary this direction a bit groundless. I am frequently tempted to argue the same for Gilliam's sci-fi, though the lack of hardcore violence in his cinema makes the point somewhat moot. 

 

For Snowpiercer, though, there is still a genre argument to be made here. If a text or film frames itself as making some point about, let's say, a nihilist interpretation of population control and survival, then it is open to criticism. The question becomes: Does the film make its case? Does it do so in an aesthetically credible way? In what ways does the film support or subvert its own thesis? Your post above is a good reading of the film from this perspective, and the violence becomes an issue.

 

Unless the film is really just a genre piece. I read a lot of sci-fi that becomes action for action's sake, eschewing the need to be all prophetic about what is happening in the world right now. Harry Harrison's novels are a good example of this. In such lit., the set pieces that contain the kind of political or social world-building we see here are secondary to the movement of the story forward and provide satisfying conclusions for the reader. I have not read the graphic novel on which the film is based, but I was not watching the film as a deep political statement for which the violent imagery is a necessary element - like Night and Fog or Full Metal Jacket.

 

I leave myself open to the charge here that I am letting the film off the hook as sheer entertainment, but I am interested in your response to that. We are formed by our entertainment, even if it poses itself as non-ideological. I am not sure if that means we need to always interpret films ideologically.

 

Knowing how violent the film is, would I watch it again? Probably not. But I enjoyed both Raid films the first time and would recommend them to others.

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Christian, 

 

I think the dictionary definition(s) are both more expansive and less precise and detailed than the way in which I tend to use the word. Dictionary definition 1 ("An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence") is certainly a form of nihilism, but it's outside the scope of meaning that would normally come up in my usage. Dictionary definitions 2 and 3 substantially overlap with my definitions, but I went into more detail and brought out elements that I find useful in contemplating the moral implications of movies. 

 

M. Leary, 

 

I think I would agree that we don't always need to interpret films ideologically or in terms of their philosophical implications, but in part I'd say that's because most mainstream narrative films, and certainly most mainstream action fictions, more or less take for granted a set of widely shared narrative assumptions grounded in a conventional moral framework. It often isn't necessary to attend to their interaction with this framework because they generally don't have anything interesting to say about it, but they still depend on it for the kind of entertainment they propose to deliver. 

 

Even in a Jackie Chan extended set piece, where the whole narrative is (to borrow Ebert's metaphor) a mere clothesline on which to hang elaborate stunt sequences, we still depend for that clothesline on a few basic tropes: Jackie is a nice guy; these other guys are not nice; Jackie doesn't want to fight; the other guys leave him no choice; etc. Without that basic moral framework, all we have are outtakes of Jackie Chan and his team of stuntmen, which can be entertaining enough, but not the same kind of entertainment. 

 

In passing, I wouldn't normally use the word "ideology" for this kind of question, which seems to me existential and philosophical rather than ideological. I normally think of ideology as a term connected to the explicit rationales proposed by political or economic systems (which may or may not be related in various ways with the real motivators of those systems). 

 

Snowpiercer is certainly a film that engages the topic of socio-economic ideology, not necessarily on a level more substantial than is required by narrative convenience or dramatic effect. The ideas it raises in this regard, at least for the bulk of its narrative, are comparable to other ideologically inflected sci-fi movies to which it has been compared, such as Elysium and District 9, as well as some of the films of Terry Gilliam which appear to have inspired it, although some of those movies seem to me potentially more committed to their ideological implications than Snowpiercer. Thus, I wouldn't say we need to think hard about ideas around the head and the tail, and being a hat or a shoe, in connection with real-world socio-economic questions (though I have no objection if someone wishes to inquire into how the film engages and reflects upon these questions). 

 

On the other hand, when a film goes to the extent that Snowpiercer does to pull the rug out from under the conventional moral framework usually undergirding a narrative of this sort, then I'm not sure how we can prescind from moral or existential questions about the purported meaning of the acts we are watching.

 

For a movie to aggressively court a nihilistic interpretation of its own events the way this one does would be like a Jackie Chan movie suddenly suggesting that the real reason Jackie and these other guys are fighting is that all men have an innate biological impetus for aggression that needs release from time to time. 

 

We can't prescind from the implications of a revelation like that on the grounds that it's "entertainment," because a revelation like that undermines the whole basis on which this kind of entertainment is normally predicated. This, I suggest, is precisely what seems to me potentially at stake in Snowpiercer.

 

Granted, other sci-fi epics, such as the Matrix sequels, have pulled moves similar to Snowpiercer in this regard, and perhaps some of Gilliam's films do as well, so it might be possible to argue that Snowpiercer is simply riffing on what other films have done. Even so, contemplating nihilism as a narrative trope in its own right doesn't make me like it any better on a genre level.

Edited by SDG

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P.S. It occurs to me that Curtis has a textbook case of what I've called an Aragorn Complex

 

In a story in which a conventional moral framework is assumed, the Aragorn Complex typically functions to establish a character's moral worthiness to lead: He's worthy to lead because he doesn't want it, because he doubts himself and is therefore complex and self-critical, the way a good leader should be. 

 

In this story, last act twists pull the rug out from under this presumption as they do nearly everything else. But the trope itself still applies. 

Edited by SDG

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Any more thoughts, anyone? Still hoping to be argued out of my skepticism. The film has stuck with me, but however I think about it I come back to what seems to me the nihilism of the thing. 

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Any more thoughts, anyone? Still hoping to be argued out of my skepticism. The film has stuck with me, but however I think about it I come back to what seems to me the nihilism of the thing.

I hope to see it this weekend.

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I think I would agree that we don't always need to interpret films ideologically or in terms of their philosophical implications, but in part I'd say that's because most mainstream narrative films, and certainly most mainstream action fictions, more or less take for granted a set of widely shared narrative assumptions grounded in a conventional moral framework. It often isn't necessary to attend to their interaction with this framework because they generally don't have anything interesting to say about it, but they still depend on it for the kind of entertainment they propose to deliver. 

 

 

We can't prescind from the implications of a revelation like that on the grounds that it's "entertainment," because a revelation like that undermines the whole basis on which this kind of entertainment is normally predicated. This, I suggest, is precisely what seems to me potentially at stake in Snowpiercer.

 

I agree with the way you have framed my assumption in the first paragraph there. I guess we need to be willing to be critical about these assumptions when it seems necessary, but given that the large bulk of mainstream action films or rom-coms share these assumptions with little deviation - constantly calling them out grants them a depth or seriousness they don't obtain and turns us all into Movieguide.

 

As to the latter point, I would argue that the rug-pulling here is conventional given that I see this frequently in the kind of sci-fi I have mentioned in this thread. Though, going back it looks like I have only referenced Harry Harrison - so I would also toss in Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchet, Dick, Heinlein, Philip Jose Farmer, Sterling, and Gibson as examples of authors that build very ornate worlds with dramatic social injustices that end up being the canard of giant capitalist pigs or secretly fascist governments. I was kind of surprised when I got to the end of the film, but I was not shocked, as I have experienced this kind of turn toward nihilism many times in similar literature. So I took what would have surfaced as a disdain for the film in stride as a convention that actually works pretty well here.

 

In fact, this rug pulling was kind of expected given the way the film had previously posed its class distinctions, the faceless intermediates between front and back, the discovery of the party cars, and the whole secret message plot. By the time we make it to the party cars, I expected the film to end on this kind of icky subversion of the entire plot. If pressed about the nature of the violence of the film, I would argue that the grotesque images of poor classes battling beureaucrats and a military-industrial complex would be too benign in this case if  santized by editing out the more violent images. The sorrow and pain of physical loss in those scenes is symmetrical with the cruelly clincal absurdity of the end. Formally, the violence of the mid-train battle provides a humane balance to the nihilist violence of the end.

 

So, it strikes me that I am making a similar argument for the violent imagery here as I have in the past for Night and Fog. The nihilism of the conclusion as you describe it would strike the viewer as less virulent and abhorrent if not for the preceding struggle to encounter it.

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Any more thoughts, anyone? Still hoping to be argued out of my skepticism. The film has stuck with me, but however I think about it I come back to what seems to me the nihilism of the thing. 

Saw it yesterday, and I'm inclined not to read it as nihilistic, because

 

there is another world outside that of the train.  In other words, Ed Harris is a powerful, corrupt authority playing God, but there is another world outside the one he's created, and that outside world (the real world) is implied to be full of beauty and good. (much like

The Truman Show)  The polar bear shot is, I think, has a regal quality that is supposed to represent the beauty of creation as well as the earth's ability to nurture life.  Admittedly, it's possible to read that shot as the boy and girl escaping the train to meet their doom by earth's predators, but I find that reading simplistic and disingenuous.

 

The ice age is caused by another attempt of man to play God and control the earth.  Early on Curtis says that he wishes to forget life before the train, because the beauty is too painful to remember, which seems to imply 1) creation, the world, etc. is good but man's attempts to control it and use it to domineer others are what pervert the world and 2) Curtis is not the idealistic hero we're supposed to think, which the cannibalism story confirms.

 

I recently read A Game of Thrones, which has understandably been called nihilistic.  However, I noticed that the most terrible, brutal events occur when the good characters briefly compromise their morals and try to slightly play along with evil. That's when the really evil characters triumph, at least in the first book. I think Snowpiercer is similar. Curtis has played along with the engine, and he is far from saintly.  He's just as reckless regarding human life as the front of the train, and the reason people flock to him as the leader is because he's the strongest.  I do not think it's a coincidence that the two characters who escape are innocent of the evil of their environment.  Yona is a drug addict, but that's clearly her father's fault.

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M. Leary,
 
Thanks for your fascinating comments. I'm not sure I follow you on all points, and where I do follow, I'm not sure I agree. For me, the extremity of the brutality, and in particular Curtis's cri de coeur about knowing what babies taste like, etc., doesn't better prepare for the (arguably conventional) nihilistic revelations of the climax; on the contrary, the greater the enormity of the horrors you subject me to, the more I expect you to repay me for enduring them. I can more easily take in stride as genre entertainment a twisty ending with nihilistic implications if the preceding story has offered ordinary genre thrills. The more dehumanizing the action, the more humanistic I want the work as a whole to be.
 

Saw it yesterday, and I'm inclined not to read it as nihilistic, because…

 

Did you read my comments above? I don't exclude the interpretive option you prefer, but I listed some considerations I think militate against it, including important disanalogies between this film and The Truman Show. I think your critique of the harsher reading of the ending as "simplistic and disingenuous" is way too harsh.


I'm not quite sure where to land on this one.

 
Heh. Now there's a response I relate to. smile.png

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Saw it yesterday, and I'm inclined not to read it as nihilistic, because…

 

Did you read my comments above? I don't exclude the interpretive option you prefer, but I listed some considerations I think militate against it, including important disanalogies between this film and The Truman Show. I think your critique of the harsher reading of the ending as "simplistic and disingenuous" is way too harsh.

I got home from the film Thursday, read through the entire thread (as long as it was then) and mulled over everything for a day.  I probably forgot points that you or others addressed.

 

ADDENDUM:

 

Okay, I admit the validity of a negative reading of the final scene.  Even though I still think it's meant to be hopeful, I agree with you that hope is tenuous.

 

As Rushmore said "the main plot device in this film is a perpetual motion machine."  The final climactic act is stopping that machine, and ending the perpetual cycle of oppression.  Admittedly, the protagonists mostly fail, because they kill all the passengers except two, and it's possible their new fate might be just as bad.

 

I do not think Wilford or Gilliam are meant to represent God.  They have contrived to

control all humanity, but I think that pretty clearly means they're playing God and not representing Him.  Both of them even die at the hand of the untenable system they created. (Okay, that could be read as killing God a la Philip Pullman, but since they cause their own deaths via their machine, I think that should be interpreted as man's punishment for trying to exceed his authority.  Also, there's clearly another greater world over which they have no power, which suggests they are not the ultimate authorities.)

 

In contrast to the untenable system of the train, the earth is shown to be able to care for and sustain itself - the snow is melting, life is being supported, etc.  Hope may be very, very dim, but there is hope as long as you escape the corrupt system, not play with it and try to change how it is manipulated.  Curtis is playing with fire and gets burned; Namgoong wants nothing to do with the train and as a result of his efforts, his daughter manages to escape along with one other innocent character. That is not to imply those two are the only innocent characters; many innocent characters obviously and tragically die.  The film certainly is dark, but I still argue against calling it nihilistic.

 

I want to re-emphasize my final point from above, most notably stressing how un-heroic I found Curtis.  When given a position of power, he metes out justice as cruelly as Mason. (Forcing her to eat the cockroach protein bar, casually shooting her when she's handcuffed)  Even at the beginning when Curtis cautions Edgar against acting too hastily, he doesn't seem to care about the passenger being brutalized, he just wants success and longs to treat the front passengers the same way the tail is currently being treated.  I don't read the failure of a character like that as nihilistic.

Edited by Evan C

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I am certainly impressed by this film's willingness to play in different tonal registers without warning or preparation, which Korean cinema does much more boldly than American cinema. David Ehrlich called this the BioShock movie, and that comparison seems astute. In addition to their aesthetic and thematic commonalities, BioShock and Snowpiercer seem more powered by convention than conviction.

But it's too nasty to be much fun, and it's too shallow to elicit much feeling.

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I posted the following on Twitter ... yesterday

 

SNOWPIERCER (Bong, USA/S.Korea, 2014, 8) Didn't think much of Chris Evans, Tilda might be *too* good, the logic of the allegory would've been clearer if film ended one scene earlier (even so, c'mon ... what's gonna happen next), and too much of action is today's Parkinson's-operator-meets-Cuisinart-editor style ... BUT ... take away (almost) all of that (Tilda) ... and we'd been talking a year-best contender for me -- a film bursting with ideas and the proverbial Korean miles of brutal and self-conscious style (a specific music cue to a certain Kubrick film) -- when it has room to breathe, the editing is sensationally good. Also the progressively different looks of traincars (Skandies Scene FYC: the "school"), Song and Hurt and a taciturn Ivanov, the Nietzschean vision of society and eventually the universe, the critique of revolution,

 

To get to Steven's ideological objections ... I guess I can't see the film as nihilistic in a bad way because I see revolution (and the specific act of blowing up the train) as itself as a form of nihilism ("let justice be done or the heavens fall," I said on the away home to the friend with whom I saw it), both absolutely and within the logic of the film. But then I also don't see Nietzsche as (merely) a nihilist but also the profoundest critic of nihilism (which in a phrase is almost exactly my reaction to SNOWPIERCER).

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But it's too nasty to be much fun, and it's too shallow to elicit much feeling.

 

This. This is kind of where I am.

 

I get that the nastiness may play differently in a Korean context, but there's a difference between saying that and actually being Korean. Which, you know. I'm not. 

To get to Steven's ideological objections ... I guess I can't see the film as nihilistic in a bad way because I see revolution (and the specific act of blowing up the train) as itself as a form of nihilism ("let justice be done or the heavens fall," I said on the away home to the friend with whom I saw it), both absolutely and within the logic of the film. But then I also don't see Nietzsche as (merely) a nihilist but also the profoundest critic of nihilism (which in a phrase is almost exactly my reaction to SNOWPIERCER).

 

I would love to see the film as a critique of nihilism, even a popcorn one. I'm just not there with the film.

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I get that the nastiness may play differently in a Korean context, but there's a difference between saying that and actually being Korean. Which, you know. I'm not. 

 

Korean films are NOTORIOUS for wild tone shifts and the use of gore and cruelty in contexts that Westerners consider inappropriate. It's practically the defining feature of the country's cinema and exhibited by almost all its significant auteurs to at least some degree -- Kim Ji-woon, Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Im Kwon-taek, (here) Bong Joon-ho and lesser figures. I remember being at the Toronto Festival retrospective in 2002, one of the earliest contemporary ones of its size and breadth in the West, and, almost to a man, the folk there made that observation.

 

 

 

To get to Steven's ideological objections ... I guess I can't see the film as nihilistic in a bad way because I see revolution (and the specific act of blowing up the train) as itself as a form of nihilism ("let justice be done or the heavens fall," I said on the away home to the friend with whom I saw it), both absolutely and within the logic of the film. But then I also don't see Nietzsche as (merely) a nihilist but also the profoundest critic of nihilism (which in a phrase is almost exactly my reaction to SNOWPIERCER).

 

I would love to see the film as a critique of nihilism, even a popcorn one. I'm just not there with the film.

 
I don't see how it could be more explicit -- pissed-offedness at God and revolutionism lead to the end of man.

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