Bong Joon-ho’s 2014 sleeper hit had a botched release thanks to producer Harvey Weinstein, but it’s out now on Blu-ray. Clarisse Loughrey speaks to its stars

One of this years few, precious joys was South Korean director Bong Joon-ho achieving what many thought was impossible. His film Parasite won the Academy Award for Best Picture, showing that Hollywood can indeed be coaxed out of its subtitle phobia. Its success, both during awards season and at the box office, also felt like a redress for the mistreatment of his first English language feature, 2014s Snowpiercer. It had all the right ingredients for Stateside success: frenzied action, larger-than-life characters, and A-list names like Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris.
But it fell foul of Harvey Weinstein, who acquired the distribution rights, demanded his own cut and when Bong stood firm retaliated by limiting its US theatrical release and pulling the UK one altogether. It deserved a much better fate than it received but, after first turning up on Amazon Prime and Netflix, its finally coming to the UK in Blu-ray form, in conjunction with a new TV adaptation streaming on Netflix, starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs.
An explosive attack on capitalism, Snowpiecer is set in a future where the Earth has become a frozen wasteland and its last survivors are now cloistered together on an enormous train, divided on strict class principles. As it circles the globe in a perpetual loop, revolution brews within, as the tail-sectioners rise up to take the engine. Although Snowpiercer bristles with rage in the face of inequality, it hides a gentle heart. It possesses great imagination, a deep social conscience and a radical spirit.
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Tilda Swinton stars as Minister Mason, the trains second in command. However frustrating the delay has been for us, Swinton tells me, this release is simply the result we always looked forward to: the right time for our film. No doubt, Parasite will have gathered countless new admirers to Bongs work, so Snowpiercer can be the beneficiary of this new following, Swinton adds. Her Snowpiercer co-star, Ed Harris, who plays the trains mysterious architect, agrees. I was thrilled and extremely happy that people were realising the creative genius of director Bong.
The story behind Snowpiercer is both long and intermittently vexing. It begins in a bookshop near Seouls Hongik University in 2005, where Bong stumbled across Le Transperceneige, a French graphic novel by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette. He stood there and read the whole thing in one go. By the time he got home, hed decided it would be his next project. Starting with the basic concept of a post-apocalyptic locomotive carrying the worlds population, he added his own details: the revolt, the slimy protein blocks used to feed tail-sectioners, and the ideological system that hails the trains driver, Harriss Wilford, as a prophetic saviour type.
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Bong wrote the screenplay, enlisting Kelly Masterson (behind Sidney Lumets final film Before the Devil Knows Youre Dead), to help with the films English dialogue. And, in late 2012, both the script and a test reel were shown to Weinstein. He was thrilled The Weinstein Company acquired the films distribution rights for North America, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and the director ended up with a fairly sizeable $40m budget. But the producer did not like what he received in return. Bong loves to tell a particular story about his interactions with Weinstein. One scene in the film sees the tail-sectioners confronted by Wilfords enforcers all leather-clad, balaclava-shrouded thugs. None of their masks have eyeholes, so they blur into a single, soulless block of authoritarian intimidation. Before they strike, one of them brings out a dead fish and gently dips his hatchet into its flesh. He passes it around. Soon, each of their weapons is trimmed with luminous, red blood. Its a ghastly image, a premonition of this groups casual brutality. But Weinstein wanted it gone. Bong retorted: this moment was a personal tribute to his father, a fisherman. He replied, Oh, why didnt you say that before? Family is the most important thing. We must not cut this out, the director recalled at a recent BFI event. Theres one addendum here. The story? It was f***ing lies. His fathers a graphic designer.
Weinstein wanted to cut around 25 minutes from the final film living up to his nickname, Harvey Scissorhands. Any moment too strange or gruesome was targeted. He demanded an explanatory voiceover, too, and suggested fantasy writer Neil Gaiman for the job. Bong asked Masterson to cook something up instead. In the end, both the Weinstein-approved edit and the directors cut were screened for test audiences, on opposite sides of the US. It was Bong who emerged victorious. His version received much higher test scores and the producer eventually relented.
But Weinstein, never gracious in defeat, insisted that the film only receive a limited theatrical release in the US before being dumped on video on demand. It earned a healthy $10.5m there, though it had already grossed $80m in other territories. The critics were won over by its originality. The New York Times praised its refreshing and playfully postmodern take on the post-apocalyptic genre, while The Guardian described it as if Terry Gilliam or Michel Gondry had been hired to rewrite Samuel Beckett. If it had received a proper release, theres no doubt it would have been a major hit. According to Bong, perhaps for him that was a punishment, but for us it was a happy ending. After The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy in February 2018 (Weinstein has since been found guilty of sexual assault and rape and is currently serving 23 years in prison), several of its films were picked up by rival distribution companies. Lionsgate is behind the new UK Blu-ray release; Swinton is also confident that one day, soonest UK audiences will be able to see the film on the big screen.
Now, at least, Parasite fans can better appreciate what Bong achieved with Snowpiercer. The films intertwine, tonally and thematically. Both used confined spaces a train or a luxurious home to create microcosms based around class and capitalism. And, as Bong himself has pointed out, both dramatise a revolt of the lower classes expressed through a movement across that space. In Parasite, the Kim family rise up from their dark, musty basement apartment and take residence in the palatial Park home. In Snowpiercer, the revolution pushes from one carriage to another, from the back to the front. One is vertical, the other horizontal.
Its a world we see through the eyes of Curtis (Chris Evans), the uprisings de facto leader. Each new carriage feels like stepping into a different universe. His home, the tail end, is a maze of steel, wires and misery. Peoples belongings clutter the rows of bunk beds, forming cramped alleyways. He travels through the service quarters with its stark, plain walls and elegant greenhouses and on to the hedonistic indulgence of the front carriages. There are fur-swathed orgies and Orient Express teatime fantasies. The idea that all these places can exist in such close proximity to each other wont surprise anyone whos seen first-hand the effects of gentrification.
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Bong Joon Ho, right, reacts as he is presented with the award for best picture for “Parasite” from presenter Jane Fonda at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Looking on from left are Kang-Ho Song and Kwak Sin Ae
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Renee Zellweger accepts the Oscar for Best Actress for “Judy” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Best Feature Documentary winners (L-R) Lindsay Utz, Julia Reichert, Julie Parker Benello, and Steven Bognar walk backstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Joaquin Phoenix wins the Oscar for Best Actor in “Joker” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Renee Zelllweger accepts the Oscar for Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for ‘Judy’ during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Mark Taylor (C-L) and British sound engineer Stuart Wilson (C-R) pose in the press room with Salma Hayeck and Oscar Isaac with the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing for ‘1917’ during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Shia LaBeouf (R) and Zack Gottsagen arrives for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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James Corden and Rebel Wilson stand backstage in cat costumes during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California
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Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon-ho win the Oscar for Best Picture for “Parasite” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020.
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Bong Joon Ho walks offstage with Spike Lee after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “Parasite” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Kobe Bryant’s name is displayed during the In Memoriam Oscars tribute at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020.
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Bong Joon Ho, left, is congratulated by Brad Pitt before going on stage to accept the award for best director for “Parasite” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Karen Rupert Toliver walks backstage with the award for Animated Short Film backstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson with the Best Sound Mixing Oscar for 1917 in the press room at the 92nd Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 9, 2020. See PA story SHOWBIZ Oscars
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Olivia Colman presents the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Carol Dysinger (L) and Elena Andreicheva pose in the press room with Mark Ruffalo with the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for ‘âLearning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)’ during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories.
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Brie Larson walking barefoot at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Bong Joon-ho talks to Sam Mendes after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “Parasite” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Bong Joon Ho accpets his Oscar for Achievement in Directing for ‘Parasite’ during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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US singer-songwriter Billie Eilish performs onstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir poses in the press room with the Oscar for Best Original Score for “Joker” during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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British singer-songwriter Elton John (L) and British lyricist Bernie Taupin pose in the press room with the Oscar for Best Original Song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again, ‘Rocketman'” during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Joaquin Phoenix, from left, hugs Shia LaBeouf in the audience, as Zack Gottsagen looks on, at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig in Valentino present the Oscar for Best Production Design at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Regina King walks backstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Brie Larson and Elijah Allan-Blitz walk on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Mahershala Ali and Amatus Sami-Karim arrive on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Scarlett Johansson, left, congratulates Laura Dern, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for “Marriage Story” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020
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Marshall Curry, winner of the award for best live action short film for “The Neighbors’ Window”, poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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People take photos as VIP guests arrive for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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US actress Laura Dern (R) poses next to US actor Mahershala Ali with the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Marriage Story” in the press room during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Lin-Manuel Miranda during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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US-Guatemalan actor Oscar Isaac (L) and US-Mexican actress Salma Hayek speak onstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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US actress Laura Dern poses with the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Marriage Story” in the press room during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California
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Natalie Portman and Timothee Chalamet present Taika Waititi with his Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit in the press room at the 92nd Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles
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Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California
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Aurora smiles backstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Eminem performs during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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British costume designer Jacqueline Durran poses in the press room with the Oscar for Best Costume Design for “Little Women” during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Kristen Wiig arrives for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Joaquin Phoenix, left, and Rooney Mara arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Keanu Reeves (R) and his mother Patricia Taylor arrive for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Cynthia Erivo in Versace poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Janelle Monaeand Billy Porter performs during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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US actress Scarlett Johansson arrives with husband Colin Jost for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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A general view of the Oscars show during the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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US actors Steve Martin and Chris Rock (R) speak onstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Margot Robbie talks with Leonardo DiCaprio on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9,
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Regina King, left, presents Brad Pitt with the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Brad Pitt accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Florence Pugh arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Olivia Colman arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Jonathan Pryce arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angele
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The cast of “Parasite” poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
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Pedro Almodovar poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S
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Australian actress Rebel Wilson arrives for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California
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Billie Eilish (C) and Finneas O’Connell (L) pose with Billy Porter during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.,
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Janelle Monae arrives for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories.
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British actor Archie Yates and British actor Roman Griffin Davis from “Jojo Rabbit” arrive for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020.
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Sandra Oh poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles,
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Antonio Banderas arrives for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Kaitlin Dever, Beanie Feldstein and Roman Griffin Davis pose for a selfie on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles
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Billie Eilish in Chanel during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S
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Mindy Kaling arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Saoirse Ronan arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Bong Joon Ho, right, reacts as he is presented with the award for best picture for “Parasite” from presenter Jane Fonda at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Looking on from left are Kang-Ho Song and Kwak Sin Ae
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Renee Zellweger accepts the Oscar for Best Actress for “Judy” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Best Feature Documentary winners (L-R) Lindsay Utz, Julia Reichert, Julie Parker Benello, and Steven Bognar walk backstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Joaquin Phoenix wins the Oscar for Best Actor in “Joker” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Renee Zelllweger accepts the Oscar for Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for ‘Judy’ during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Mark Taylor (C-L) and British sound engineer Stuart Wilson (C-R) pose in the press room with Salma Hayeck and Oscar Isaac with the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing for ‘1917’ during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Shia LaBeouf (R) and Zack Gottsagen arrives for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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James Corden and Rebel Wilson stand backstage in cat costumes during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California
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Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon-ho win the Oscar for Best Picture for “Parasite” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020.
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Bong Joon Ho walks offstage with Spike Lee after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “Parasite” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Kobe Bryant’s name is displayed during the In Memoriam Oscars tribute at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020.
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Bong Joon Ho, left, is congratulated by Brad Pitt before going on stage to accept the award for best director for “Parasite” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Karen Rupert Toliver walks backstage with the award for Animated Short Film backstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson with the Best Sound Mixing Oscar for 1917 in the press room at the 92nd Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 9, 2020. See PA story SHOWBIZ Oscars
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Olivia Colman presents the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Carol Dysinger (L) and Elena Andreicheva pose in the press room with Mark Ruffalo with the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for ‘âLearning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)’ during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories.
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Brie Larson walking barefoot at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Bong Joon-ho talks to Sam Mendes after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “Parasite” at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Bong Joon Ho accpets his Oscar for Achievement in Directing for ‘Parasite’ during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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US singer-songwriter Billie Eilish performs onstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir poses in the press room with the Oscar for Best Original Score for “Joker” during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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British singer-songwriter Elton John (L) and British lyricist Bernie Taupin pose in the press room with the Oscar for Best Original Song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again, ‘Rocketman'” during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Joaquin Phoenix, from left, hugs Shia LaBeouf in the audience, as Zack Gottsagen looks on, at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig in Valentino present the Oscar for Best Production Design at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Regina King walks backstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Brie Larson and Elijah Allan-Blitz walk on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Mahershala Ali and Amatus Sami-Karim arrive on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Scarlett Johansson, left, congratulates Laura Dern, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for “Marriage Story” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020
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Marshall Curry, winner of the award for best live action short film for “The Neighbors’ Window”, poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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People take photos as VIP guests arrive for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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US actress Laura Dern (R) poses next to US actor Mahershala Ali with the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Marriage Story” in the press room during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Lin-Manuel Miranda during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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US-Guatemalan actor Oscar Isaac (L) and US-Mexican actress Salma Hayek speak onstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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US actress Laura Dern poses with the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Marriage Story” in the press room during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California
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Natalie Portman and Timothee Chalamet present Taika Waititi with his Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit in the press room at the 92nd Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles
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Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California
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Aurora smiles backstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Eminem performs during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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British costume designer Jacqueline Durran poses in the press room with the Oscar for Best Costume Design for “Little Women” during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Kristen Wiig arrives for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Joaquin Phoenix, left, and Rooney Mara arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Keanu Reeves (R) and his mother Patricia Taylor arrive for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Cynthia Erivo in Versace poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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Janelle Monaeand Billy Porter performs during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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US actress Scarlett Johansson arrives with husband Colin Jost for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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A general view of the Oscars show during the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020
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US actors Steve Martin and Chris Rock (R) speak onstage during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020
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Margot Robbie talks with Leonardo DiCaprio on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9,
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Regina King, left, presents Brad Pitt with the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Brad Pitt accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Florence Pugh arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Olivia Colman arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Jonathan Pryce arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angele
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The cast of “Parasite” poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
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Pedro Almodovar poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S
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Australian actress Rebel Wilson arrives for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California
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Billie Eilish (C) and Finneas O’Connell (L) pose with Billy Porter during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.,
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Janelle Monae arrives for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories.
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British actor Archie Yates and British actor Roman Griffin Davis from “Jojo Rabbit” arrive for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020.
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Sandra Oh poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles,
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Antonio Banderas arrives for the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, USA, 09 February 2020. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories
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Kaitlin Dever, Beanie Feldstein and Roman Griffin Davis pose for a selfie on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles
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Billie Eilish in Chanel during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S
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Mindy Kaling arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
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Saoirse Ronan arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Bong has created a world that feels totally complete. When I was led through the cars leading to Wilfords haven at the head of the train, Harris notes, the detail and imagination that had gone into the creation of this world made me realise a lot of my work had already been done. Wilfords world was there. All I had to do was inhabit it. Curtis is shaped by his environment the hardship he suffered has shouldered him with unspeakable guilt, which Evans carries right in the angry furrow of his brow. The actor flipped his virtuous image as Captain America on its head, then smashed it into pieces. Wilford, meanwhile, embodies the front of the train. His silk pyjamas suggest both wealth and complacency. When I met with [costume designer] Catherine George and she showed me what she had in mind for Wilfords wardrobe, his insouciance regarding the unfortunates at the rear of the train and his confidence in the rightness of this endeavour became even more obvious, Harris says. The actor was the last to be cast. His familiar, gravelly voice bounces off the walls of the engine room, bringing a sudden sense of calm within all the fury. Wilford possesses the charisma of a cult leader and the mystique of an otherworldly sage.
And the engines he tends to? Its capitalism itself, condensed into the whirring of a few cogs and wheels. If we control the engine, we control the world, Curtis says. Without that, we have nothing. It is both a machine and an idea, fanatically upheld by Mason. Shes a ghastly caricature of the human form, with her piggy nose, prominent teeth, itchy wig, and fake war medals. The script refers to Mason as Sir and Bong had initially considered John C Reilly for the role. But Swinton and the director had met at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and bonded instantly. He went ahead and offered her the role.
Mason is the clownish authoritarian we recognise both today and in our history. We wanted to create a grotesque, a melding of the most baroque bombast of all the political monsters we could think of: Hitler, Mussolini, Gaddafi, Thatcher, Berlusconi, Swinton told Dazed in 2017. Her inherent ridiculousness protects her and humbles her in the eyes of those she wields authority over. Yet Mason isnt a source of power. Shes merely a walking loudspeaker. Bong has hinted in the past that she may have started out as a tail-sectioner and climbed the ranks. Its why shes the most enthusiastic disciple of them all shes aware her privileged position is a fragile one.
Ed Harriss Wilford possesses the charisma of a cult leader and the mystique of an otherworldly sage (Lionsgate)
The lie told to every individual on this train is that theyre perpetually indebted to the system. You people, who if not for the benevolent Wilford wouldve frozen solid 18 years ago today, Mason tells the tail-sectioners. You people, who would suck on the generous titty of Wilford. Her words are echoed by the folk tales of the doomed Revolt of the Seven, recounted by the trains equally hysterical teacher (Alison Pill). But Snowpiercer is radical not just because it dares satirise our fervent dedication to capitalism, but because it asks the tough question: can a better world be found by taking control of the system, or must it be dispensed with entirely? As Curtis discovers, there is a deep rot at its centre. As long as the engine exists, there will always be a front of the train and a back of it. Its the most unexpected of people who comes up with the solution: Namgoong Minsoo (Song Kang-ho, Bongs frequent collaborator), a man everyone has so far dismissed as nothing but a wreck and a drug addict.
Snowpiercer effortlessly tucks potent political thought into the thrills of an action-driven fantasy there is terror, blood, humour and humanity. All cinema is built on fantasy and imagination, Swinton says. What Bong understands so beautifully is that this freedom is something any audience not only craves, but has an unlimited capacity to go for: he can push the hardest bargain with our ability to follow his switchback ride from the mundane to the hilarious to the operatic to the horrific to the blatantly political and round again. Bongs vision whether its at its most heightened in Snowpiercer or The Host, or more restrained in Parasite feels all the more urgent now that capitalism has been left at its most exposed, both by the pandemic and the slow creep of climate change.
In Snowpiercer, were told humanity created its own doom: the release of CW-7, intended to control global warming, plummets the Earth into a second ice age. Clearly, in the last seven years, the urgency of the realities of a climate emergency of our own making and the patently insupportable toxicity of global capitalism have become even more ever more undeniable for all but a minority of, what one may describe as, deeply challenged individuals, Swinton says. But, for many of us, the writing has been distinctly on the wall for, frankly, a couple of centuries.
Bongs never been interested in minor details or specific points in time. Hes a big-picture director who sees our world as it is and ever was. And he paints these ideas on canvases that teem with life. In Swintons words, the brilliance of Bong is thus: His faith in cinema, his understanding of its inexhaustible capacity to transport, engage, amuse, inspire and transform. His absolute belief that it is his party and hell do whatever he damn well pleases. His compassion, his wit, his boldness, his grace. Head, heart, hand: his Bongness.