An attempt by present day scientists to counteract global warming backfires, leading to a catastrophic ice age that renders the world uninhabitable and wipes out most of the human population. The only survivors are aboard the Snowpiercer, a train powered by perpetual motion that endures the cold by its constant motion. Within is a tiered society, with the poorest in the tail and the elite in the front. Frustrated by the deplorable conditions a revolution towards the front of the train ensues, leading to losses on both sides and revelations about the full sacrifices of the train.
The cloistered setting within the train breathes life into the dystopian genre, which has received a great deal of use and abuse over the last few years. The refreshing style is furthered by the juxtaposition of the ever moving train against the social stasis of its inhabitants. No matter how far the revolt progresses through the different compartments of the train, no matter how much truth is revealed, they cannot escape the ‘iron box’ and the realities of life and the train cannot be altered. And this reality brings into play the balance of life and resources, stability and variability, order and chaos, reliance and freedom.
Evocative and alluring, Snowpiercer makes a solid, satisfying, and energizing contribution to the dystopian film catalogue.