Snowpiercer – the first English speaking film by Director Joon-ho Bong – has been capturing the interest of theatergoers nationwide, and has been earning mostly positive reviews. Recently being screened at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, the lobby quickly filled up with ticketholders eager to see this dystopian action piece for themselves. The problem is that it is hard to tell whether Snowpiercer is a Mad-Genius of a movie, telling a twisted and complicated puzzle of a story, or simply a film with gaping plot holes. Audiences will be left with several questions; which are either meant to be deduced and answered in conversations later, or are simply mistakes. This article will propose a few questions on the inconsistencies in Snowpiercer, ones which may no answers. As the title above expresses: *SPOILERS AHEAD*.
Choice of Transportation
First off, why this story must take place on massive train that is constantly running is uncertain – besides, perhaps, the reason being the screenwriter wanted his dystopian piece to stick out undeniably from any other. This locomotive serves as sort of Noah’s Arc to the fraction of humanity that has survived global warming, and scientists’ attempts to cool down the Earth, which leave the planet in perpetual winter too cold to survive. The train is in constant motion on a single track which circles the globe, making one lap each year; this should also make it little more than a ticking time-bomb. If the weather conditions as harsh as the prologue suggests, would not the track freeze and crack relatively quickly, causing EVERYONE to eventually crash and die? The few and brief explanations offered as to why all humans have moved onto a train are nothing that could not be applied to an underground or domed facility. Even as the plot unfolds to reveal a scheme of population control, this would still be more safely achieved if they did not have to concern themselves with the track failing underneath them.
This special train has been built by a man named Wilford, who is painted to be a brilliant Engineer. So brilliant in fact that he solved the mystery to perpetual motion, and furthermore converted a perpetual motion device into a train engine. Like all machines though, the engine does break down and needs repairs from time to time. However, the benevolent Wilford apparently is not smart enough to design a special tool to reach and fix the broken engine parts. Instead he opts for kidnapping young children from the lower class car (or, the FOOT car) and forcing them down into the belly of the great train to perform repairs as needed. Not to mention, all the children he has claimed seemed to be experienced mechanics. Has Wilford just become lazy in his inventions? Was he also insane? And after years of this practice, there is no mention of what happens to the kids who have grown too large for the compressed compartments.
Bottom of the Food Train
The lower class car survives by eating authority regulated chunks of gelatin protein bars. Tired of being told when to eat and living in squalor, a revolution is ignited, led by Curtis. Their plan is to fight their way to the front of the train, and overtake the engine room. Advancing to the car where the protein bars are manufactured, it is discovered the gelatin is made of ground-up cockroaches. Not only that, but there are massive amounts of the critters. Where are these cockroaches coming from? The train is a closed system. Did Wilford intentionally smuggle cockroaches aboard? Even if that were the case, it could not have been his original plan to feed them to the FOOT. Later on it is revealed with in the first year on the train, starvation grew so much that the passengers at the FOOT resorted to cannibalism; a situation Wilford was apparently fine with as he let it get so bad in the first place, and then allowed to become worse. Was he attempting create a hunger so drastic the lower class would eat anything? Though again, why the cockroaches?? Was there really ABSOLUTELY NOTHING else for the mid-level passengers to grind up into gelatin bars?
What Are We Here For?
The aforementioned Food Train query leads directly to another one: Why does there even need to be a lower class car? As Wilford designed the train and is evidently lord and master, he would have the choice of how many passengers and who can be aboard? It is said the passengers of the FOOT were put there from the very launch on the train, and in those grave conditions. Wilford’s Balanced Eco System that he strived for from day one would work better with fewer people to factor in. The FOOT does not appear to be performing any laborious tasks to enrich the lives of the other, upper class passengers: they do not make clothes, farm food, etc. They appear to have been simply taking up space right from the start. So, why permit them passage at all? Wilford has a line alluding that the FOOT provides children to keep the engine running. So, is no one else on the whole train capable of breeding? Even if so, that would bring us back to Perpetual Demotion.
Let It Snow
Curtis and his revolution are met with several villains along the way, all attempt to subdue them. There is a scene when Wilford’s henchmen – led by Franco the Elder – try to shoot Curtis and his crew as the train winds around a semi-circle part in track. This involves shooting through the windows of one train car at a window of another; Curtis fires back with his weapon, which he stole earlier on. The temperature outside is supposed to be subzero and uninhabitable. Why would someone start shooting at the windows, and risk blowing out any window entirely and freezing any section of the train? The movie spends some time driving into the audiences’ brain that if one part of the train goes, the whole thing falls apart. So at this point, we have TWO parties trying their best to make TWO train cars freeze up. Also, magically the windows do not shatter.
There’s Just Something About Franko
Franco the Elder repeated shoots his own men, and for small, forgivable reasons. Wilford claims the revolt is necessary to keep the population at a controlled number; thus playing further into his balanced equation. Franco’s kill sprees cannot be to balance out the number of losses that are supposed to occur during the planned-riot, because Wilford says the losses on his side were too great by the point Franco starts shooting his own. Is Franco the Elder simply an out of control killing machine – who, then, should probably NOT be used with balancing an equation – or did the script need just a tad more bloodshed, despite the large amount of blood and death in the film before that?
Mind Over What’s-the-matter
Curtis’ revolution is made possible by the recruiting Namgoong, who designed all the security doors to the train – again, Wilford, the man who invented perpetual motion, cannot make his own electronic doors. Namgoong was imprisoned for drug use (which we will not even get into), and Curtis has to free him from a cryo-chamber prison. Namgoong only agrees to help under two conditions: 1) More drugs for each door he opens, and 2) His daughter Yona goes with him. Yona is locked away in her own cryo-chamber for unsaid reasons. It does not take long for Curtis to notice Yona is clairvoyant? …HOW is Yona clairvoyant?? Later it is said she was born on the train, not in the world. Do people start mutating on the train? Do people born within the confines of the train develop special powers? If so, why isn’t anyone else developing special powers? Or are they…
Food For Thought
How are the people who are only allowed to eat gelatin protein bars in any condition to revolt and fight against those who feast on meat and vegetables? Many dwellers in the FOOT are strapping young lads, regardless of rotten food and no room to exercise, and no natural daylight and on and on. Yet, they appear to move faster and hit harder than their advisories that dine on real food and swing axes or, you know, have guns. Each car they overtake seems to provide them with more energy. This could be fudged as adrenaline pumping through their veins…those malnourished veins.
There and Back Again – A Illiterate’s Tale
When Curtis makes it all the way to the nose of the train, he is welcomed and congratulated by Wilford himself. Wilford tells Curtis he is the only human to walk the entire length of the train, admitting that he himself has never been as far as the FOOT car. However, this is wrong. Wilford has been sending his secretary, Claude, to the FOOT and back for years to snatch children. This means every child poached from the FOOT of the train must have walked the entire length of the train before Curtis. One might say Wilford does not want that revealed, so simply omits it. However, TAH-DAH! Claude has also had to walk the entire length of the train many, many times for the children. From front to tail, Claude knows every car like the back of her hand. You can lie about the children, Mr. Wilford, but do not play us a fool – even though he evidently played Curtis a fool, as Curtis fails to point out Claude’s travels as well.
The secret might lie in between the lines of Snowpiercer, or maybe it is just a questionable film in the end.