Revolution is a cure for overpopulation and other meanings of the anti-utopia Snowpiercer (2013): plot summary, meaning of the ending, what the movie is about, its essence, similar movies.
Country: South Korea, Czech Republic
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Thriller, Action, Dystopia
Year of production: 2013
Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris
tagline: AD 2031: the passengers in the train are the only survivors on Earth.
Awards and Nominations: Snowpiercer received 34 awards and over 100 nominations for Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Costumes, Artwork. Most of it was awarded to Tilda Swinton in the Best Supporting Actress nomination.
The plot of the film Snowpiercer tells about the survivors after the death of almost all of humanity due to a global catastrophe on Earth. They travel by train all over the planet, because of the difference in living conditions between representatives of different social strata, a conflict arises. An analysis of its plot will help to understand the essence of the film.
Plot of the film Snowpiercer
The first minutes of the film Snowpiercer tell the background of events. In 2014, the Earth is threatened with global warming. To prevent it, scientists create a coolant CW-7. After its spraying, a catastrophe occurs: the ice age sets in, all living things die under snow and ice. A handful of people survive, boarding the tycoon Wilford’s train, moving non-stop across the planet.
Curtis is played by Chris Evans. Frame from the film.
Snowpiercer takes place 17 years later. The train rushes across the Earth. People are divided into classes. The elite rides in the first carriages. She has everything you need for a comfortable life. In the middle of the train is the middle class, in the last cars – the poor. They are controlled by the military, they have nothing, they eat protein plates. Sometimes they raise uprisings, but to no avail.
One of the poor, Curtis, is planning a rebellion with old man Gilliam, his friend Edgar, and others. Their goal is to capture the Perpetual Motion Machine and kill Wilford. In the plates, they receive capsules with notes from an unknown person. One of them shows the name – Namgung Minsu. This is a security specialist who can open the doors of the wagons. But for this he needs to be pulled out of prison.
Claudy, Wilford’s assistant, comes to the poor and takes away two children. Their parents, Tanya and Andrew, start a fight. Andrew crushes Cloudy’s head. As punishment, the man is deprived of his hand. Mason appears – one of the bosses – and explains that order is needed, and everyone should take their places. The meaning of her words is that the poor should not organize riots: by doing so they break the rules and will be punished.
Curtis believes that the soldiers do not have cartridges: they were spent during the suppression of riots. When the military arrives, he approaches the soldier, puts the muzzle of his machine gun to his forehead and pulls the trigger. The shot does not occur. The hidden meaning of this action is to show that the military does not pose a threat. An uprising begins, the rebels free Namgung and his daughter Yona. A Korean drug addict agrees to help for Kronol (a substance that is an explosive and a drug).
The rebels with Namgoong go through the cars and find their friend Paul, who makes protein bars from insects. Yona has clairvoyant abilities: she knows what will be behind every door.
Mason is played by Tilda Swinton. Frame from the film.
The rebels decide to seize the wagon with the water supply, but it is protected by masked men armed with cold weapons. Curtis and his comrades defeat and capture Mason, Franco, and several soldiers. However, many of the rioters, including Edgar, are killed.
Mason offers to take Curtis to the front of the train in exchange for his life. Gillian asks Curtis to kill Wilford and take his place.
Further, according to the plot of the film Snowpiercer, Gilliam remains to guard the prisoners. Curtis and his comrades follow Mason to the Engine and Wilford. They pass the wagons with a garden, a refrigerator with meat, an aquarium with fish and see that the rich eat good food. Mason suggests trying sushi and says they serve it twice a year. From her explanation, it follows that the matter is in balance: the aquarium is a closed ecosystem, and the number of individuals in it is carefully controlled.
Curtis, his comrades, and Mason end up in a classroom where the teacher is showing the children a video of Wilford’s story. From its contents it becomes known that he was fond of trains since childhood. Having matured, he fulfilled his dream – he created a train that travels non-stop due to the unique Engine and travels around the world in a year. Wilford knew that CW7 would freeze the planet and talked about it, but they didn’t listen to him. As a result, his project saved some people.
The teacher, children and Mason sing a song in praise of Wilford and Engine. A man appears with a cart filled with boiled chicken eggs, the symbol of the New Year. He distributes them to those present and moves on. He gets to the rioters and treats them, and then shoots the guards and frees the prisoners. The teacher also opens the shooting: she kills Andrew, but dies herself.
On the TV screen, Curtis sees Franco executing Gilliam. In response, he kills Mason. Together with his comrades, he goes on. Franco overtakes the rioters. Only Curtis, Namgoong and Yona survive the fight. They pass cars where people have fun and use drugs. The Korean and his daughter take the crown and several fur coats from them and go to Wilford’s carriage.
Snowpiercer Ending explanation
Curtis tells Namgoong about his early days on the train. There was not enough food, the strong began to eat babies. One woman hid the child, but she was killed, and the baby was taken away. The old man intervened: he cut off his hand and offered to eat it, and spare the boy.
Further description of the events makes it clear that the old man is Gilliam, the boy is Edgar, and Curtis is the murderer of his mother. Feeling guilty, he has been helping Edgar ever since. Gilliam’s act was repeated by others. People sacrificed themselves to protect the weak. Curtis also wanted to give his hand, but he couldn’t. Then it all ended: the military brought food.
Curtis says he hated Wilford for 18 years. To kill him was the meaning of his life. He asks Namgoong to open the door. The Korean offers another idea: get out by blowing up the doors. He explains that every year a train passes an airplane. For the first ten years, only part of the tail was visible, but this year the fuselage and wings appeared. The answer is that the snow and ice are melting, which means that warming is coming.
At the end of Snowpiercer, the door to Wilford opens. Cloudy appears, injures Namgung, and invites Curtis to go to the owner of the train.
Wilford congratulates Curtis: the meaning of these words is that the man was the first to get from the tail of the train to the Engine. He says that the train is a closed ecosystem, it needs a balance to exist. Sometimes drastic measures are needed to reduce the population. There is no time for natural selection, the best way out is to let people kill each other during the uprisings. The Curtis Revolution was designed for the same purpose.
Wilford says that it is difficult to control the tail of the train from its beginning, so a person among the poor was needed to guide them. For many years it was Gilliam. Together they came up with the Curtis uprising, but the man went further than planned. Gilliam paid for this with his life.
Song Kang-ho played the role of Namgoong Min-soo. Frame from the film.
An injured Namgoong gets into a fight with drug addicts who want to take cronol, and his daughter opens the door to Wilford and Curtis. Wilford says he likes Curtis for his intelligence, quick wit and leadership. He shows him the operation of the Engine, and then holds out the capsule (the hidden meaning of the scene is that Wilford sent messages to the rioters). In the note, Curtis sees the word “Train”.
At the end of Snowpiercer, Wilford says he is old and invites Curtis to take over. Franco appears and gets into a fight with Namgoong. The Korean orders his daughter to blow up the doors. Yona asks Curtis for matches, but he is stunned by the offer and the revealed truth.
Yona discovers a secret compartment in the floor. With Curtis, she opens it and finds one of the children, Tommy, between the machines. Wilford explains that Engine parts don’t last forever, so they need to be replaced. There is little space, and small children are well suited for this role. Curtis hits Wilford and gives Yona the last match. Then, sacrificing his hand, he stops the mechanisms and pulls Tommy out.
Yona sets fire to the explosives and picks up Tommy. Curtis and Namgoong cover them with their bodies. An explosion follows, the train derails.
Yona and Tommy survive in the finale. They get out from under the wreckage of the train and, looking around, they see a polar bear making its way through the mountains. The meaning of the ending of the film Snowpiercer is that there is hope for the revival of life on Earth.
Yona is played by Ko Ah-seong. Frame from the film.
The meaning of the film Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer is based on the graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jean-Marc Rochette and Jacques Loba. The train in the picture represents the state. It is a closed system where people are divided into classes. The rich in the first wagons get everything. The poor in the last carriages have nothing, not even normal food, they are oppressed and oppressed. At the center of the train is the middle class. They have food and water, they are intermediaries between the beginning and the tail of the train.
Both the poor and the elite have their car windows closed. In the last carriages, this is done because the authorities forbid the poor to see what is happening outside. But they do not have time for this: they are busy surviving. The rich have no need for this: they feel good in a world where there is everything you need for a comfortable life.
Windows open only in carriages where the middle class lives: according to the director, only people from this social stratum can see what is happening around and find a way out of the closed space. The elite do not need to leave the world where they live well. The poor, on the other hand, seek to overthrow the ruling elite, seize power and more equitably distribute resources, but do not think to leave the train.
The middle class (represented by Namgung Minsu and Yona) accepts that it is possible to live outside, and therefore seeks a way out of the train and out of the control of the state, which he personifies.
In the film Snowpiercer, the director also raises another issue – the destruction of the planet by humanity. Because of the actions of people, the Earth is in serious danger. Attempts to prevent it lead to an even greater catastrophe and the almost complete destruction of all life. The train becomes Noah’s Ark, on which the few survivors escaped.
Frame from the film.
Pong Joon-Ho shows that humanity is threatened with destruction if it does not stop its destructive activities in relation to nature and the planet. However, even in this case, there is still a chance for salvation for people: this is the explanation for the ending in which Yona and Tommy survive, thereby giving humanity a small chance to be reborn.
In the film “Snowpiercer” you can find other themes that the director raises. Thus, the issue of exploitation of child labor is often seen here. Such an interpretation is given to scenes in which it is said that small children are used to ensure the operation of the engine, replacing worn parts.
Another idea voiced by the director is related to the state and raises questions of balance and control. A closed ecosystem, whether it is an aquarium or a train, exists due to the right balance and needs to be carefully controlled. In the aquarium, there are workers for this, maintaining the number of fish in the correct proportion. On the train, Wilford and Gilliam organize revolutions, allowing people to kill each other and reduce the population so that there is no oversupply.
Based on this theory, we can say that the film, firstly, raises the problem of the artificial organization of wars and revolutions aimed at reducing the population of the planet, and, secondly, that in modern times such control can be exercised in another way: by ensuring people with a low standard of living with the appropriate quality of food, medicine, water, living conditions, etc.
This allows you to solve the problem of overpopulation without massacres. Does such control really exist on the planet? Did the director raise this topic, like others? These questions remain open, and everyone has the right to find their own answer to them.
Frame from the film.
- The Hunger Games (USA, 2012). In a totalitarian state, representatives of various classes annually participate in survival games.
- “High-rise” (Great Britain, Belgium, 2015). In an ideal high-rise building, where there is everything you need for a comfortable life, there is a confrontation between representatives of different social strata.
- “Elysium. Heaven Off Earth” (USA, 2013). The bulk of humanity survives on an overpopulated Earth, with a select few on the thriving Elysium space station. The main character will have to equalize the rights of the inhabitants of the Earth and “Elysium”.
- “Equilibrium” (USA, 2002). In the future, people are forbidden to express emotions, so they drink medicine to suppress them. The government agent does not take the next dose on time, transforms and goes against the regime.
- In Time (USA, 2011). In the future, time has become the only currency. At 25, people stop aging, but in order to live on, they need to buy additional years. The rich become almost immortal, and the poor are forced to fight for their lives.