Monday, April 14, 2014

First thoughts on Snowpiercer (2013) but not a review

I have at last seen Joon-ho Bong's Snowpiercer. I ordered a copy of the French DVD when it looked like the Weinsteins were not going to release the film uncut. The upside is that I've seen the film. The down side is I missed some of the Korean dialog because it wasn't subtitled in English.(It was subtitled in French which mean I got enough of it to get by).

This is not to be considered a real review. If you've seen the film you'll know this is a film that will require long extended discussions. I'm looking forward to seeing Alec during the upcoming Tribeca FIlm Festival so I can discuss some of it with him. I'm also looking forward to long discussions with Mondo, Hubert and everyone else once the film hits theaters on June 27.

For those who don't know the film is about a train that is racing around an ice covered world. It seems an attempt to stop global warming has frozen the planet. All that are left are the people on the train. The rich in the front and the poor in the back. The poor are pissed off and they plan a revolt which they hope will take them to the front of the miles long train.

My first thoughts  on seeing the film were -How could anyone (the Weinsteins) even consider chopping 25 minutes out of it. Where the hell did they think that you could cut anything out of it? Its a ludicrous idea on the face of it.

The second thing was that I was amazed that anyone would release the film, never mind make it. The fact that we got this film truly boggles my mind.

That last statement isn't meant to convey that the film is bad, rather it's so atypically big budget science fiction that is so completely out there that it would seem to be beyond the capability of any major studio to make something like it. The only thing I can compare it to on any number of levels is Terry Gilliam's Brazil which is another wholly unique work that dicked over by a studio head with no clue.

I think the best explanation I've read was by the aforementioned Alec who said "some of it is the best thing ever and some of it less so." My pull quote would be something  like it being one of the truly great science fiction films of all time of the sort that several generations of doctoral thesis are written. The part that would be left out is that it also contains some of the most WTF moments in any film. There are moments that are completely and utterly surreal, You can feel the madness of the situation bleeding into the film itself. It makes for a truly unique viewing experience.

How is it really?

Very good.

Heady as all hell.

Its operating on so many different levels that people will be arguing about it for decades. religious allegory? Social commentary? Action films? science fiction film? Thriller? Comedy? Its all there and more. Sometimes it all works together and sometimes it doesn't. Its imperfect but I wouldn't know what to change...perhaps find away to keep connected to the film with my heart and soul instead of just with my head. Intellectually I was always connected but emotionally I began to wander in the second half as the ideas overwhelmed the emotion.

Its the work of a mad genius and as such it's it's own unique creation. The danger of that is that some people are going to hate it and some people are going to love it. Group me more towards the love it side of the train. Its wild and crazy and brilliant.

Of course if you don't buy the premise- which is something several people I know won't do- then you're doomed. On the other hand if you just go with it then you'll love it.

I need to see the film a again. I need to discuss it and pull it apart before I can really review it. A long detailed review will be coming, but for now know that the film really is a must see for anyone who likes intelligence in their filmmaking. 

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