TNT has ordered a pilot for “Snowpiercer,” a futuristic thriller based on the award-winning film by Bong Joon Ho. A co-production of Tomorrow Studios and Turner’s Studio T, the hour-long drama pilot is being executive-produced by writer-showrunner Josh Friedman (“Avatar 4,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) and Tomorrow Studios’ Marty Adelstein (“Aquarius,” “Prison Break”) and Becky Clements (“Good Behavior,” “Aquarius”), and the original film’s Bong Joon Ho, Park Chan-wook, Lee Tae-hun and Dooho Choi, along with CJ Entertainment.
“Snowpiercer” is set seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, and the remnants of humanity inhabit a gigantic, perpetually moving train that circles the globe. It’s not exactly what we’d call a “black film,” but its presentation as a miniature look at matters of class and the potential for genuine class warfare (when the oppressed decide that they no longer wish to exist in a society whose socioeconomic system insists on their oppression, and act against it, providing a lever for radical change) is an idea that I believe we here can all appreciate, and this could be a timely television adaptation, given the current climate we’re living in. I would also expect a diverse cast for the series that, at least, matches the film.
Read on for specifics and thoughts… although SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE ORIGINAL FILM!!
The story: In 2014, an experiment to counteract global warming causes an ice age that kills nearly all life on earth. The only human survivors are the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a massive train, powered by a unique engine that can run forever, that travels on a globe-spanning track, never stopping. A class system is installed within the train, with the elites inhabiting the front of it, and the poor inhabiting the tail section. Years later, in 2031, the tail inhabitants (comprised of a motley crew of the oppressed, including characters played by Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, and others, as well as prisoners played by Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung – both stars of director Joon-ho’s awesome subversive creature feature “The Host”), prepare for the latest in what we’re led to believe have been a series of past rebellions. Will they be successful, unlike past revolts?
If that premise doesn’t already have your interest, then maybe what the film’s ending implies, might.
My interpretation of what I saw, as others who’ve seen the film may have taken something entirely different from it: It’s a film that, like “The Host,” combines a blockbuster plot and socio-political commentary. The film ends with a massive explosion on the train (intentionally caused) that leads to an avalanche in the surrounding mountains around the track, where the train finds itself at that moment. The avalanche, of course, reaches the train, destroying many of the cars, derailing them, and, as we’re led to believe, likely killing everyone inside of them. After all that chaos, there’s a moment of respite, and in the aftermath 2 characters emerge from the wreckage – characters that the film seems to suggest are the only 2 survivors, since no one else exits: Yona, played by Go Ah-sung and Tim (Octavia Spencer’s son in the film), played by Marcanthonee Reis.
Both, ambivalently, step outside into the snow (ambivalent because, as they’ve been taught, humans are not supposed to be able to survive outside of the train; a belief that was indeed once true, but they prove is no longer the case, when they exit the train and spot a polar bear).
Fade to black.
Now what I especially loved about this ending is that, despite the fact that the revolt was led by your expected white male hero in Curtis, as played by Chris Evans, the star of the film, he dies in the wreckage caused by the avalanche (or so we’re led to believe), and the 2 survivors are a South Korean girl and an African American boy – a rarity in films of this nature, maybe helped by the fact that the filmmaker is South Korean. I can only guess that director Joon-ho knew exactly what he was doing here; essentially, consideration for the fact that a male and female survived, and both are from what society labels *minority groups* today.
So, even more thought-provoking is that, when you further consider (as we’re led to believe, that every single living human being lived on that train since the earth froze over) this pair of survivors is all that the human race has left, one can only assume that, when they are both of age (the younger boy and the older girl, specifically) they’ll have to procreate to re-populate the planet. Think of them as a kind of Adam & Eve all over again, with every boy and girl who would be born in the years that will follow this significant moment in humanity’s history, who will re-populate earth, will come from a South Korean woman and an African American man.
At least, that’s my interpretation.
Think about what that world would look like for a second, and then consider the world we’re living in now, as white nationalism seems to be sweeping western society currently.
And then see the movie, if you haven’t yet. It’s available on various home video platforms.
No ETA on TNT’s series adaptation, but we’ll certainly be watching to see how it’s cast.
Viva la revolución!
Trailer for the original film below: