About two years ago a South Korean movie studio made a little piece called Snowpiercer (2013). It’s the best little movie that you might not have heard of. In fact, it almost didn’t come to America at all because of a disagreement between the director and the Weinstein Company. This movie’s greatest claim to fame is not that it fought tooth-and-nail to make its way out of art house cinemas for wider release. No, this movie’s claim to fame is that it managed to sneak in a pro-hierarchy film into an egalitarian film industry.
In this post-apocalypse future the world is doomed to an eternal winter after a coalition of at least 76 countries agreed to disperse chemical coolant “CW7” into the upper atmosphere. CW7 was supposed to return the world’s temperatures to the “finest levels” and thus remove the dangers of global warming. You guessed it: environmental engineering resulted in mankind’s near-total destruction, not its salvation. If this movie were made by White Nationalists it would have been a story about how Israel trapped every other nation on Earth into a grovelling subservience.
The weather in Snowpiercer is a play on contemporary fears of global warming adding relevancy and timeliness to the story. The weather is, of course, a permanent and deathly cold freezing winter. The weather is cold, the train is warm. The train is a political system and its classes are segmented and separated into successively higher ranked cars. To live outside of your allotted station in life is to suffer the freezing death of exposure. That’s what the cold is: it’s the doom that awaits people who try to buck the system. We have a more-or-less similar apparatus in place right now. Our opposition’s greatest tool is economic terrorism. Outspoken or active White Nationalists are chased out of the scene after their employers receive threatening calls or are simply informed that they are employing an evilnaziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews. It’s hard to raise a family let alone pay bills when no respectable white collar employer will have you.
Curtis Everett is a tail-section passenger planning a rebellion against the train’s creator, Wilford. He wants better living conditions, food and treatment for the tail-sectioners and he wants to do all of this by taking over the train and deposing Wilford from the engine car. His #2, Edgar, was born on the train and he doesn’t know anything of the outside world and Curtis is just silly enough to tell him “We’ll be different when we get there.” Spoiler alert: No, you won’t.
The tail section is policed by armed guards. The guards distribute protein blocks for food. The guards perform head-counts to see how many people are in the tail section. The guards perform “health inspections” on the children at Wilford’s behest, and it’s after one of these inspections where a child is stolen by one of Wilford’s henchmen to replace a “missing part” on the train that Curtis launches the revolt. Curtis and the other tail section occupants refused to revolt prior to this because they feared the guards would shoot them. However, Curtis believed the guards were using empty weapons having fired all of their rounds during the last large revolt. And he was right. The only reason the guards could treat the tail section passengers so poorly was because they let them do so out of fear. Police have no power and if the people rise up and revolt all at once the police are powerless to stop it.
During a fight against a well-equipped army of ax-wielding henchmen Curtis has to make a choice to let Edgar die or to stop a high-level train official from escaping. He lets Edgar die. Even at this early point Curtis has already begun his transformation into something other than a tail-sectioner. Curtis isn’t able to take anyone with him to the top, to the sacred engine. The people who help him to the top are either self-interested in escaping or will die trying to help him.
All hail Wilford. He was just a super-smart kid who wanted to grow up and build a luxury train, right? RIGHT? No. He’s not. The train isn’t “just a train” in this movie. The train is the society that we all live in. Wilford was a young man who dreamed of ruling the world and realized that a certain world-wide cataclysmic event would allow him seize control. He realized that the unending debate and division surrounding climate control would give him an opportunity to create an autocratic one-world government. We’ve seen a lot of these in our time, some of which have had more success than others. NATO, EU, G8, etc… sound familiar? The Culture Distorters are hard at work whipping up a new humanitarian crisis with Syrian refugees in Europe, and it’s just pitiful to see how Europeans are handling this latest episode.
But, back to the movie- Every now and again the front-passenger cars need to take one of the tail-section passengers to perform some essential function on the train or to entertain themselves. Both seem to have about the same impact on the tail-sectioners: one of them is disappeared into the forward sections. When a tail-section passenger is “disappeared” into a forward section of the train there is no return. People are “disappeared” for pleasure, business and less frequently in cases of rebellion, however the result is always the same: if you leave the tail section you’re not coming back. Ever. There are a few times during the film that tail-sectioners encounter one of the their friends who were taken and these former tail-section passengers can’t imagine doing anything other than what they’ve been reassigned to perform. Reassignment is absolute and changes everything about the person. It doesn’t matter how you achieve a new station or duty in the train, everything about your person is changed after you are reassigned.
The Great and benevolent Wilford designed a train to run on a world-wide track. But, why is this important? Why doesn’t the train travel only in one country and not in others? In fact, why does the train need to travel at all? If the “engine is eternal” why couldn’t it stay in one spot and just idle? Because it’s not “just a train.” It’s a system, a government and it’s a world-wide government that controls everybody. If the train stops? Everybody dies. If people fail to occupy their predestined and preordained station in life and also to fulfill its requirements? Everybody dies. To be out of place or to refuse to perform a necessary function in the train is death. Does this remind anybody else of Israel’s Samson Option? The movie’s director might very well have been making commentary on the North Korean government, but damned if it doesn’t look like an incriminating case for Israel’s ideal world.
Before Curtis can lead his revolt to the front he has to free a prisoner, Namgoong Minsu, a “security expert” who helps Curtis open the doors between train cars. Namgoon, Nam for short, is a kronole addict. Kronole is industrial waste and is formed into little cubes. Train passengers sniff the chalky blocks and get high. It is also “highly flammable.” The movie maker could have had anyone be the security expert, but a drug fiend was chosen. For every door that Nam opened he received a block of kronole from Curtis. After Nam gets Curtis through all the doors and delivers him to the engine, Nam forms all of the kronole blocks into one large lump to make an explosive strong enough to breach an exit door on the train. Nam didn’t want to take the engine, he just wanted off of the crazy train. Nam was a drop out from society, and he wanted to escape.
The nearer Curtis comes to the head of the train is the nearer he comes to the highest levels of the train’s society. He has to pass through the middle of the train (middle class) to get there, and then he passes by the bourgeois middle and upper class. The final cars before they reach the engine? A party and rave car. The train’s occupants become increasingly decadent and boojee before the engine is reached. They lounge around getting high on kronole, playing hunt-the-zipper and making orgy porgy. They are also the ones work the hardest to stop Cutis. The bourgeois are the ones who will fight any revolution the hardest because it means that their comfortable party lifestyle will come to an end should the revolution succeed. No surprises there. Traditionalist Youth Network’s most reliable opponents are stuck up and confused white kids from middle to middle-upper class families who are quite content with their White Cosmopolitan Liberal Supremacism.
Remember how reassignment is absolute and irreversibly changes people? Curtis was right there outside the engine’s chamber when Nam packed his kronole bomb against a door. So what did Curtis do? In the moment before he was about to dethrone Wilford and take control of the train? He stops Nam from escaping. If Curtis had control of the train he probably would have done the same thing with Nam as what Wilford’s police force did with him previously: lock him up so that he couldn’t escape. Everybody is property of the train and nobody is allowed to leave the train.
When Curtis finally gets a chance to meet with the great Wilford, Wilford thrusts Curtis into the heart of the engine. Curtis is overwhelmed by the power and prestige and is all but converted. Meanwhile, Nam’s kronole bomb finally detonates. The explosion sets off an avalanche and knocks the entire train off the tracks, with many of the cars spilling off down the side of a mountain. What’s the moral of the story? If you break down all barriers between the classes the train will literally go off the tracks and kill everyone.
Was Snowpiercer an ideal or even a decent kind of thing for people to live in? No, but it worked. Can we as activists and leaders hope to do better for our people by trying to work within the system? That’s entirely dependent on the assumption that we intend to keep the current system. Ideally we should hope to flip this government right off the rails, ditch the wreckage and brave the cold for the sake of our people and our future.