Snowpiercer opened in South Korea earlier this month to rave reviews and box-office breaking sales. But the 126 minute film, based on popular bande dessinée Le Transperceneige and starring Chris Evans, is to be cut by a whopping 20 minutes for the eventual English language release – removing the intelligence and leaving a simplified action film in its wake.
I’ve talked at length before here on The Beat about both Snowpiercer and Le Transperceneige, as it really looked set to the be surprise hit of the year. A dystopian future tale, set upon a perpetually circuiting train that houses the remnants of the human race, where class tensions arise and revolution is in the air.
The original comic, by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, is utterly incredible although sadly an English-translated edition is not yet available. In a market often slow to recognise the wonderful works in the European market, this perhaps explains why a film starring Captain America, Tilda Swinton and John Hurt flew under many radars.
The distribution rights for North America, UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were picked up a while back by The Weinstein Company. Harvey Weinstein of course is also known as “Harvey Scissorhands” for his penchant for slicing international films to bits in order to remove complexities that he thinks Americans just can’t handle. Snowpiercer is merely the latest victim, despite gathering very positive reviews and doing well in South Korea.
The film, a Korean-American-French collaboration directed by Joon-ho Bong, is being released in Denmark at the end of August and in France at the end of October in uncut form.
The idea that such a film needs to be dumbed down for English speaking fans is rather bizarre, with Weinstein reportedly asking for “ introductory and closing voice-overs to be added in“. As film critic and programmer Tony Rayns says, “TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa … and Oklahoma.’” Rayns also says that the UK is protesting the cuts and hopes other countries follow suit.
The cuts remove a lot of the character work in order to make the film play like a more traditional action movie, with voiceovers at beginning and end to club viewers over the head with plot explanations.
Chris Evans was careful to remain diplomatic, telling Collider:
“I’ve heard that he’s looking to cut some things down and, you know, it’s tricky… This is the tricky part about making movies. There’s usually a method to Harvey’s madness. I just got back from Korea so I wanna go in and see—I’ve gotta see a lot of things and I’d love to have a discussion with him. It’s one of those things that’s just tricky.”
Would be fans such as myself are left with a difficult conundrum. The film deserves to do well as both the rave reviews and original bande dessinée show. But English-speaking viewers won’t get the chance to see the true film until a director’s cut is hopefully released on dvd and blu-ray. But avoiding it at the cinema will not help the original film either, yet supporting it might give the impression that the cuts were right to make…
So in conclusion, I shall begin my protest. To my warrior keyboard!
Remember to watch the trailer. Oh and go on then, have some more new images: