SnowPiercer Society

I watched the movie SnowPiercer a few weeks ago. It is a pretty decent movie in its own right with rather explicit political overtones.

The plot basically revolves around a train, containing the last of humanity. The train appears a metaphor for society. It is divided into the lower class, middle class, upper class, rulers, and so on. The movie follows a revolt by the lower class as they try to take over the train. All the while, the train is what keeps these people alive as the world outside cannot be survived.

While there's a lot of social commentary in this movie and much of it is discussed everywhere, I figured I'd focus on one aspect and how it parallels society.

The Train Must Keep Going

In the movie the train must keep going for they fear the world outside is not habitable. This is similar to our various political systems where the main goal is to keep the status quo going. The fear of changing direction is deep and for very real reasons.

The World Outside is Scary and Dangerous

Snow Piercer

In Snow Piercer, the world outside is a frozen wasteland where all traces of life have vanished. Leaving the train does not seem like a viable option for a sane person.

Our Society

In real life, we know what the wold outside our own is. It is filled with brutality, war, poverty, death disease. We see it every day on the news. Leaving our current system of capitalism, government, banking, welfare state... does not seem like a viable option for a sane person. When the great recession hit in 2008, every effort was made by members across the political spectrum to ensure the current system stayed in tact. Even the most leftist governments poured trillions into the banking system to ensure it would not fail. We are paralyzed by our own fear of the unknown; trapped by our comfort with the present.

Some Just Want To Be In Charge of the Train

Snow Piercer


The movie is centered around a rebellion of the lower class to take over the train. They see the luxury the upper class live in. They see the power that resides in the engine room. They think they can improve their lives and make life more fair by being in charge of the train.

Our Society

Our society is constantly in the midst of politicians and masses of disenfranchised people believing that their leaders are at fault, and they should be in charge and it will all be better. They see the life of luxury the ruling classes have and they want a part of it. However, rarely is this change transformational, and you just get another set of leaders and the same or different set of the disenfranchised.

The Leader Live Comfortably, but Trapped on the Train

 Snow Piercer

The leader of the current train lives a life of relative luxury, but in the end is revealed to struggle just to maintain the balance on the train. That balance requires everyone to stay in the class and do their job. He is as much trapped by the train as anyone else. He is even willing to give up his leadership for the train to keep going. Even as he is hated by those he keeps in line, he feels it is his duty as the leader to keep the train going.

Our Society


Not much to say here. Our leaders and the ruling class live in relative luxury, while trying to control everyone and keep people in their place doing their jobs in order to keep the current system running.

The Cost Of Keeping The Train Running

 Snow Piercer

In Snow Piercer, the cost of keeping the train running is symbolized by children becoming engine parts as they wear out. Children are literally turned into gears or mechanical devices. They are needed to keep the train running. This of course keeps everyone alive from the poor to the rich. Even if the rebels manage to take over the train, they still have to deal with this reality. They cannot ignore it. There is no apparent option except to keep this practice going.

Our Society

Our society needs various groups of people from migrant farm workers to overseas factories. Without their sacrifices, the poor in most Western countries would not be able to live in such comfort. What an odd world we live in where Western countries have to import migrant workers to pick the very food we eat. This is needed to produce food at such low-cost. Most countries are in constant need of such labor or immigration that they could not continue without it. They are overlooked even by the most progressive or liberal Westerner as they too know their world would collapse without them. This can happen knowingly or unknowingly.

Even in the most liberal or socialist areas, the undercurrent remains. In major cities, they become dependent on illegal immigration or illegal labor or other such activities. Even people like Jack Layton, champion of social justice in Canada succumbs to this as he takes advantage of cheap Asian immigrants in his 'massage' palour scandal.
Whether it is the supply of good restaurants typically run by immigrant labor held to less than favorable standards, sexual exploits, or overseas labor, they all know much of our society would cease if they were not there.

The Youth Must be Educated To Keep It Going

Snow Piercer

The train has its own school where children are educated in the ways of keeping the train running. Everything from the mythology to the patriotism of the need to keep it running.

Our Society

Pretty much every society tries to gain control of the education and push the values needed to keep things running. Concepts like the welfare state or capitalism are engrained in the children from a very young age as the only way to live. This is reinforced in the media as age comes.

 Those Wishing to Get Off the Train are 'Radicals'

Snow Piercer


In Snow Piercer, the Korean man and his daughter are the radicals. They first join with the rebels in their quest to take over the train. However their plan is different. Their plan is to blow a hole in the train and get off the train. He has a belief that they can in fact survive outside and it is now time to get off the train and build something new. In the end, they all try to stop him.

Our Society

 There are groups that propose a different world on every political spectrum. In our case, right now, there are groups that oppose big banking capitalism, aiming for economic growth, increase government power... Yet, they are always relegated as the fringe and not serious as they pose a radical threat to the status quo.

The Ending Is Always Unknown

Snow Piercer 

 The ending of Snow Piercer leaves it perfectly in my view. The train is derailed and there is great destruction. Yet, two survivors manage to escape; they are 2 children. A new world is there's for the making. But what chance do they really have? That is vague. A polar bear hangs in the distance symbolizing both danger and affirmation that life has returned to the outside.

Will they build a better world than the one on the train? Or will they be the last two humans who get killed by a polar bear leading to the extinction of humanity?

Our Society

Who knows what happens when you collapse the current system. Getting rid of Sadaam Hussein and middle east dictators has given rise to extreme radicals like ISIS. But who knows what will transpire. It is simply a great unknown. Who knows what will occur if we get rid of growth oriented banking? Nobody knows until it is tried. It is only through this process of revolution that great changes are made. Good or bad, only time will tell.


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