Snowpiercer – What’s the Difference?

published on July 2, 2020


For the past couple decades, Korean New
Wave cinema has captivated international

audiences with films that redefine genre
and comment on important social issues

>> (Noise)
It's director Bong Joon-Ho,

who now leads the charge setting
an unprecedented amount of international

attention with this 2019 Thriller
comedy social drama, Parasite

But it's not an adaptation so
we can't talk about it on this show

We can talk about his
2013 sci fi action drama,

comedy, guys a lot of stuff here,

The premise of the super
train carrying the last

of mankind is derived from
the French graphic novel

Le Transperceneige originally
published in 1982

Graders Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette
satirize modern society with an emphasis

on the fragility of our ecosystem

Bong Joon-ho however, leans more heavily
into themes of social inequality

It's this thematic shift that dictates the
majority of the changes in the adaptation

So how does Bong Joon-Ho translate
into French sci-fi about ecology into

an action-thriller about class?

Well grab yourself a protein snack and

prepare to get spoiled because it's
time to ask what's the difference?

>> Do you want to go?

>> You don't mind?
>> No

I can-
>> What's the difference?

Both book and

the movie start with some back story

The frozen Earth is
a result of chemical CW-7

But Bong Joon-Ho deviates from
the book when he revealed

CW-7 was an attempt to
reverse global warming

In the book,
CW-7 is theorized to have been a weapon

It was a tool in humanity struggle for
dominance over the earth

So the book is critical of war,

how the fight over resources
affects the social order

Both mediums divvy up the train into a
class system but they look very different

The train in the comic is
separated into three classes

Bong Joon-Ho's train on the other
hand is a two class society,

the wealthy class at the front and
the poor class in the tail

Based on the Indian caste system,
a person's social place is preordained and

cannot be changed

I belong on the head,
you belong on the foot, yes

So it is

>> The entire first act is set in the tail
end where the people are used as resources

for the upper class and
any dissent is dealt with inhumanely

>> However

the book rarely shows the tail end or
its people

The first class cut all communication
with the tail long ago,

fearing that they may take
more resources by force

But while the book's third class may
not be the subject of oppressive

dismemberment, the main characters
do suffer the indignity of

being shaped balls, since poor people
are thought to be riddled with disease

>> This is bull (Bleep)

>> So by redirecting the focus
from ecology to class Bong Joon-Ho

sets the stage for
a story about revolution

Then he fills it with an ensemble
of eclectic characters

completely unique to the film

There's Mason, the sadist who maintains
the caste system along with her team of

enforcers, while the trains master
a man named Wilfred operates unseen

>> Mr Wilfred, are you there?

>> Meanwhile, a whole network of lower
class rebels look to our protagonists

Curtis to guide them to freedom


>> We've got no bullets

The main character in the book is Proloff
who is rather apathetic to the suffering

of the tail, it's survival
that drives him, not justice

His only ally is a naive social activist
named Adeline who ties her fate to his

The antagonists are made up of
institutions like the military,

the government, and religious cults,

who would sacrifice the tail
cast to secure their own safety

The Bong Joon-Ho's characters
all have unique motivations,

which foot pathways for
a very different plot

The movie, Curtis leads
a violent escape from the tail,

hacking their way from carriages
like levels of a video game

His goal is to reach the engine and
take control of the system

It's a straight forward
journey from A to B

The book plot is messier

Proloff escaped the tail by himself

He's been escorted to the front for
an interview with the first class where he

learns that the train is pulling
too much weight to endure

>> Should get thick and more chapter

>> Proloff and Adaline then uncover
a secret plot to disconnect

the tale in order to lighten the load

But when passengers start
dying of a mysterious disease,

mass panic turns violent as
Proloff is hunted as patient zero


Many of the inner workings of the train
are adapted straight out of the book with

the exception of the food

In the movie,
the class divide becomes more clear when

Curtis discovers their protein
bars are made from insects

While the front of the train
enjoys huge meat lockers and

an aquarium full of seafood

From the comic however,
the menu was much more limited

The second class relies on a giant
slab of artificial meat named mama

while the elite first class enjoys
fresh rabbit, mm-hm delicious

So while the privilege lives
much better than the tail,

everyone's still teetering
on the brink of famine

Bong Joon-Ho also diverges from the book
when dealing with the subject of hedonism,

whether you're riding high to a rave
party or chilled out in the peroneal den,

you know what you're not doing?

Thinking about all the torture
the poor people are enduring

>> This party ain't ever stopping

>> While drugs certainly
play a part in the comic,

sex seems to be the more pervasive
method of (Cough) keeping busy

>> Get out of here

>> And thus,
we arrive at the final confrontation

In the movie,
Curtis reaches the front of the train but

at the cost of every one of his friends

(Sound) But reaching the engine room
was never part of Proloff's goal,

instead he is cornered at the front of
a train where he shoots out the windows

causing Adeline to die of exposure
while Proloff is rescued by Forester,

the reclusive engineer

Both mediums satirize God with
the character if the train engineer

But Bong Joon-Ho makes
an amoral deity out of Wilfred,

splitting his personality between
a savior and the devil himself

Yes, he saved humanity with his train, yet

he insists the suffering of others
is necessary to ensure survival

Once inside the engine room, Wilfred
tempts Curtis into taking his position

>> And now you have the sacred
responsibility to lead all of humanity

>> Forrester couldn't
care less about humanity

His top priority is the engine
lovingly named Olga

This for her that Forrester there saves
Proloff to keep her company after

he's gone

Unlike Wilfred,
Forrester is not a manipulator

He simply watches quietly from
the sidelines as humanity indulges in


(Sound) Even though both Curtis and
Proloff end up in the engine room,

the outcome could not be more opposite

>> Elgar, take the fire

>> Curtis chooses to bring
down the entire system,

killing all onboard except
two train-born children

The film ends with Yona and Timmy
venturing out into a brave new world

Even if the entire system is destroyed,
life goes on

In the book, it's the train that
goes on after life has perished

Proloff wakes inside the engine room with
Forrester where he watches impotently as

the tail end sacrificed and

the upper classes all die
from the mysterious disease

By the final frame, Proloff is the lone
survivor on a train that will never stop

And that's the end of the line

Bong Joon-Ho adapts the original
premise into a story of his own,

complete with the hallmarks of
Korean cinema, genre-bending,

rapid shifts in tone, and
striking imagery layered with meaning

You could say Korean is
the film's native tongue

>> The comic's tongue is pure French,
but mostly the dirty words

It drips with decadence,
vulgarity, and smut

It's bleak, and at times made me
feel pretty ashamed of myself

I mean, what am I doing to help steer
our world away from ecological disaster?

I'm just sitting here making
little videos for you to watch


>> Wow, okay, well that's enough for
this episode

So let us know what you think about
Snowpiercer in the comments down below,

and be sure to subscribe to CineFix for

>> No, that's okay

Until next time-
>> Dude, get out of here

>> You're bugging me

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