In 2013, director Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) adapted a unique and interesting concept from a French graphic novel known as ‘Le Transperceneige’, known in English as the The Snow-Piercer. The base of this story is set in an icy, post-apocalyptic wasteland, where survival in the below freezing temperatures is undeniable. It was a situation which was foreseen however, and a man by the name of Wilford built a circumnavigational train for the last of humanity to live out the rest of its days. In order to bring structure and prosperity to this new way of life, the train was built with class and segregation in mind, with the riches living the high life at the top end of the train, working its way to the heavily guarded tail end, which sees the passengers scraping away day by day.
As I don’t hold the movie as dear as many, I welcomed the idea of an adapted series. If handled correctly but perhaps introduce new layers to its narrative, it could become something very special. Having watched the first couple of episodes on Netflix last night, I thought i’d give a quick analysis of what’s happened so far.
So the fundamental concept is still very much there. We get a brief introduction which throws us into the chaos unfolding at the beginning of the train’s journey, something that was left out of Joon Ho’s movie. It further explains the divide of its passengers and understanding of how the ‘Tailies’ (as the tail ended passengers are known) initially boarded the train.
We then fast forward six years and the life conditions of the Tailies are far more apparent. No different from being homeless and left to survive on the street, their lifestyles are far from desirable. We meet Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs), who we quickly discover was a homicide detective in his pre-apocalyptic days. With that life long behind him however, Layton aims to lead the charge in an uprising against the hierarchy, and work their way up the train. Their plan is halted when he is personally called upon to investigate a murder.
Melaine Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) acts as an overseer of the train. She is responsible for keeping the carriages and its passengers in check. Her elegancy is a testament to her power and authority, which she very quickly demonstrates much of.
Based solely on what I’ve seen so far, Snowpiercer looks to be an interesting series. From what has been introduced and set up so far, it has huge potential to continue its successful run providing it doesn’t lose its traction (pun intended). At base layer, it remains close to what we already know, but its heading for a mystery angle which was a fascinating surprise. With the train being 1001 cars long, it seems there’s plenty of time to pace its narrative into a neatly woven, and well structured series without the need to rush its way through it. Regardless of whether or not you’ve seen Bong Joon Ho’s take on the material (which I do highly recommend seeing), it has an identity of its own and has so far lived up to its potential.