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Snowpiercer poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Produced by Park Chan-wook
Lee Tae-hun
Park Tae-jun
Dooho Choi
Robert Bernacchi
David Minkowski
Matthew Stillman
Screenplay by Bong Joon-ho
Kelly Masterson
Story by Bong Joon-ho
Based on Le Transperceneige 
by Jacques Lob
Benjamin Legrand
Jean-Marc Rochette
Starring Chris Evans
Song Kang-ho
Go Ah-sung
Jamie Bell
Alison Pill
John Hurt
Tilda Swinton
Octavia Spencer
Ed Harris
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Hong Kyung-pyo
Edited by Steve M. Choe
Changju Kim
  • Moho Films
  • Opus Pictures[1]
Distributed by RADiUS-TWC
(North America)
CJ Entertainment
(South Korea)
Release dates August 1, 2013
(South Korea)
June 27, 2014
(United States)
Running time 126 minutes
Country South Korea[1]
Language English
Budget $39.2 million (estimated)[2]
Box office $86.6 million[3]

Snowpiercer (Korean: 설국열차; hanja: 雪國列車; RR: Seolgungnyeolcha) is a 2013 Korean science fiction action film based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette.[1] The film is directed by Bong Joon-ho,[4][5] and written by Bong and Kelly Masterson. The film marks Bong's English-language debut; approximately 80% of the film was shot in English.[6][7]

The film stars Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Go Ah-sung, Jamie Bell, Ewen Bremner, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and Ed Harris.


In 2014, an experiment to counteract global warming causes an ice age that kills nearly all life on Earth. The only survivors are the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a massive train, powered by a perpetual-motion engine, that travels on a globe-spanning track. A class system is installed, with the elites inhabiting the front of the train and poor inhabiting the tail.

In 2031, the tail inhabitants prepare for the latest in a series of rebellions. Guards arrive periodically to deliver protein blocks for food, and take some of the children. During the guards’ next visit, Curtis Everett leads the tail inhabitants in revolt, forcing their way through several train cars to the prison section. There, they release prisoner Namgoong Minsu, the man who built the security system that controls the doors dividing each car, and his clairvoyant daughter Yona. They offer him uncut Kronole, a drug that both he and his daughter are addicted to, as payment for unlocking each of the remaining doors.

One of the cars is filled with armed men. Under the orders of Minister Mason, the men battle Curtis' forces; Curtis' side prevails, and he captures Mason, but he is forced to sacrifice his second-in-command, Edgar, to do so. Mason agrees to lead the group through the high-class cars in exchange for her life. In the school car, the teacher points out seven frozen rebels through the window, she and a henchman then draw machine guns, slaughtering many of Curtis' followers, and executing his mentor Gilliam; as revenge, Curtis kills Mason.

Curtis, his few remaining followers, and Namgoong and Yona continue through the train, discovering the extravagance in which the elites have been living while the poor wallowed in squalor. One of Mason's henchmen, Franco the Elder, kills the rest of Curtis' followers, Tanya and Grey, before the henchman is himself seemingly killed. Curtis resolves to complete his mission, accompanied by Namgoong and Yona. The trio moves through the remaining cars where the elite indulge in food, partying and Kronole; Namgoong steals much of this Kronole from the inebriated revellers. As they arrive at the Engine door, Namgoong suggests they use the collected Kronole, made from explosive chemical waste, to blow open the side of the train, and escape into the outside; Namgoong explains that every year, the train has passed a crashed plane buried in snow, which has become less buried with each passing year, suggesting that Earth is warming, and that survival outside is now possible.

Curtis explains why he must confront Wilford, creator of the train and its hierarchy. When the tail dwellers first boarded the train, they were deprived of food, water, or supplies, in crowded conditions, forcing them to turn to cannibalism. Before the introduction of the protein blocks, Curtis had kidnapped an infant Edgar to eat him, and killed his mother, before Gilliam cut his own arm off and offered it in Edgar's place. Namgoong resolves to use the explosive, but the engine door opens and Namgoong is shot and wounded by Wilford's assistant Claude, who forces Curtis inside. Curtis confronts Wilford, who explains that the revolution was orchestrated between himself and Gilliam as a means of population control, necessary to maintaining balance aboard the train for supplies, but Curtis was too successful and Wilford's own losses too great, so he executed Gilliam as punishment. The aging Wilford says that he wants Curtis to replace him as the train's overseer, while in the tail, Wilford's henchmen execute all but 26% of inhabitants.

Meanwhile, Yona and the recovered Namgoong fight off the irate partiers and Franco (who survived the previous fight). Yona knocks Claude unconscious, gets inside the engine room and pulls up the floor to reveal that Wilford is using the tail children as slave labor, to replace the train's failing components. Outraged, Curtis sacrifices his arm to block the train gears, freeing one of the children, Timmy. Yona recovers the explosive from Claude and ignites it, before retreating into the engine with Namgoong. The damaged engine door fails to close, and Namgoong and Curtis sacrifice themselves to shield Yona and Timmy from the resulting explosive fire. The explosion sound wave causes an avalanche in the surrounding mountains that strikes and derails the train, destroying many of the cars and possibly killing everyone inside of them. In the aftermath, Yona and Timmy step outside into the snow. In the distance Yona spots a polar bear, revealing that life exists outside the train.


The creators of the graphic novel, Jean-Marc Rochette and Benjamin Legrand, have cameo appearances in the film.[13]



In 2005, Bong visited his regular comic book shop in Hongdae area, Seoul, during pre-production of The Host. He found Jean-Marc Rochette's French graphic novel series Le Transperceneige and finished reading the entire series while standing in front of the bookshelf where he found it. He was fascinated by ideas of people struggling on the train for survival, and every section is classified in social stratification. Bong showed the series to his friend, fellow director Park Chan-wook, who loved it as well. In the following year, Park's production company Moho Films secured the screen rights to the series for Bong.[14] During the pre-production in South Korea, Bong wanted a film studio with a 75–100 meters long space to fill four train cars connected together. Therefore, Bong and his production team travelled to Europe for a studio scouting and ended up with two studio choices: Barrandov Studios in Czech Republic and Korda Studios in Hungary. For the screenplay adaptation, Bong reached out to Kelly Masterson, having seen Masterson's work on Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Masterson and Bong originally envisioned a romantic story for the protagonist, however they jettisoned that idea in subsequent drafts of the screenplay. [15] In September 2011, a Czech producer hired by the production team began negotiations with two film studios for availability, Barrandov Studios was chosen eventually for the film studio and production service provider of Snowpiercer.[16][17]


In mid-March 2012, the film crew travelled to Tyrol, Austria to shoot some snowy scenery on the Hintertux Glacier in one day.[18] Principal photography officially began on April 16, 2012 and wrapped on July 14 in Barrandov Studios.[2] The post-production was carried out in South Korea.[2]


International release[edit]

Snowpiercer was released on August 1, 2013, in South Korea where it went on to break box office records.[1] On September 7, 2013, the film was screened as the closing film of the Deauville American Film Festival,[19] and was released in France on October 30. Before the official German release on April 3, 2014, the film was selected to screen at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival as the part of Berlin Forum.[20] The film's UK premiere took place at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 22 June 2014,[21] but an official release date has not yet been announced.[22]

US release controversy[edit]

The North American rights were acquired by The Weinstein Company in 2012, based on the script and some completed footage, with a plan for wide release in the United States and Canada. However it was only released in the US on June 27, 2014, in just eight theaters in selected cities.[23] This delay was caused by Harvey Weinstein, an owner of The Weinstein Company, requesting 20 minutes of footage be cut and opening and closing monologues be added. Bong refused to cut it. American fans anticipating the film were outraged, spawning the Free Snowpiercer petition campaign (founded by cinematic activist Denise Heard-Bashur) demanding the director's cut of the film to be released in the US.[24] Eventually Bong succeeded in getting the film released in an uncut form,[25] however Weinstein retaliated by relegating the film to Radius-TWC, which meant the film only received a limited release in art house cinemas.[26] On July 2, it was announced that thanks to the positive reviews and buzz the film would get a wider US release and play in over 150 theaters.[27]


Critical response[edit]

Upon its release, the film was met with acclaim from critics. On film aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 95% rating, with an average score of 8.1/10, based on reviews from 150 critics. The site's consensus was "Snowpiercer offers an audaciously ambitious action spectacular for filmgoers numb to effects-driven blockbusters".[28] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 84 based on 36 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[29]

Box office[edit]

Since its South Korean opening, the film has earned US$80.2 million.[30] As of April 2014, it is the tenth highest-grossing domestic film in South Korea with 9,350,141 admissions.[31] The film holds the domestic record for the fastest movie (domestic and foreign) to reach four million admissions, which it achieved in its fifth day after premiere, and another record for the highest weekend figure (from Friday to Sunday) for a Korean film with 2.26 million viewers.[32] The film took in a total of $171,187 on its US opening weekends, averaging $21,398 per theater.[3]


Snowpiercer: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by Marco Beltrami
Released August 26, 2013 (2013-08-26)
Genre Film score
Length 55:57
Label CJ E&M Music
Producer Marco Beltrami
Buck Sanders

In May 2012, Marco Beltrami was hired to compose the incidental music for Snowpiercer.[33] In January 2013, a song titled Yona Lights was released on the film's official website in South Korea.[34] On July 12, 2013, during the 007 Fimucité at Tenerife International Film Music Festival in the Canary Islands, a few pieces of the three films composed by Beltrami (Snowpiercer, Soul Surfer and The Wolverine) were selected for the performance.[35] The pieces played for the Snowpiercer part were "This is the Beginning", "Go ahead", "Train riot" and "Ec Yona".

The film's official soundtrack was released in July 2013 in South Korea and the international release date was on August 26, 2013.[36]

Track listing

All music composed by Marco Beltrami.

No. Title Length
1. "This is the End"   3:41
2. "Stomp"   1:00
3. "Preparation"   3:10
4. "Requesting an Upgrade"   3:40
5. "Take the Engine"   2:04
6. "Axe Gang"   2:22
7. "Axe Schlomo"   1:47
8. "Blackout Fight"   4:24
9. "Water Supply"   2:32
10. "Go Ahead"   2:45
11. "Sushi"   1:14
12. "The Seven"   1:00
13. "We Go Forward"   2:05
14. "Steam Car"   2:38
15. "Seoul Train"   2:26
16. "Snow Melt"   2:02
17. "Take My Place"   5:56
18. "Yona Lights"   3:33
19. "This is the Beginning"   4:00
20. "Yona's Theme"   3:38
Total length:


  1. ^ a b c d Elley, Derek (February 2, 2014). "Snowpiercer". Film Business Asia. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Noh, Jean (2012-07-17). "Bong Joon-ho wraps Snow Piercer in Prague". Screen International. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  3. ^ a b "Snowpiercer (2014)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved September 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ Young-gyo, Kim (2008-05-27). "Film adaptation of French dystopian comic to go global: Bong". Yonhap. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  5. ^ Weintraub, Steve (2009-10-12). "Exclusive: Bong Joon-ho Talks About His Next Film SNOW PIERCER".  Retrieved on 2011-06-30
  6. ^ Paquet, Darcy (2013-04-30). "What SNOWPIERCER Means to the Korean Film Industry: PART 1 – The summit of KOREAN Film's ambition". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  7. ^ Bechervaise, Jason (2013-04-30). "BONG Joon-ho, Director of SNOWPIERCER: PART 2 – INTERVIEW "I wanted to make a very exciting train and sci-fi movie"". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  8. ^ Kroll, Justin (2012-01-13). "Chris Evans warms to 'Snow Piercer'". Variety.  Retrieved on 2012-01-16
  9. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (2012-01-17). "Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell Join Snow Piercer". Variety.  Retrieved on 2012-01-17
  10. ^ Chilton, Martin (2012-01-18). "John Hurt: Your life is your own property". The Telegraph.  Retrieved on 2009-01-26
  11. ^ White, James (2012-02-02). "Octavia Spencer Boards Snow Piercer". Empire.  Retrieved on 2012-02-08
  12. ^ Weintraub, Steve (2012-09-21). "Chris Evans Talks THE ICEMAN, SNOWPIERCER, CAPTAIN AMERICA 2, THOR 2, AVENGERS, His Marvel Contract, Future Roles, More!".  Retrieved on 2012-09-22
  14. ^ 민병선 (2011-08-16). "단독 프랑스 만화 각색한 ‘설국열차’ 400억대작 이끄는 봉준호 감독". Donga Ilbo online.  (in Korean). Retrieved on 2012-05-14
  15. ^ "Interview with SNOWPIERCER Screenwriter Kelly Masterson". Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  16. ^ 김혜리 (2013-08-18). "[김혜리칼럼] 길면 기차, 그리고 긴 인터뷰 (1) : <설국열차>에 이미 탑승한 관객을 위한 봉준호 감독의 코멘터리". Naver Corporation News.  (in Korean). Retrieved on 2014-04-19
  17. ^ Ju Sung Chul (2011-09-11). "Four leading Korean directors working on overseas projects". Korea Cinema Today.  (in Korean). Retrieved on 2014-04-19
  18. ^ "Snowpiercer in Tirol". Cine Tirol Film Commission. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  19. ^ Richford, Rhonda (2013-08-20). "Deauville American Film Festival Adds 'Snowpiercer' as Closing Film". The Hollywood Reporter.  Retrieved on 2014-07-04
  20. ^ Leo Barraclough (23 January 2014). "'Snowpiercer' to Play as Special Screening in Berlin Forum Section". Variety. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "Snowpiercer | 2014 Programme". Retrieved 23 June 2014. ,
  22. ^ Jon Fuge (2 July 2014). "Snowpiercer: revolution on the rails". Spiked. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  23. ^ Ray Subers (26 June 2014). "Forecast: Fourth 'Transformers' to Fight Off Franchise's 'Extinction' This Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  24. ^ James Knight (13 January 2014). "Chris Evans New Movie 'Snowpiercer' Release Plea After Captain America Death Rumors". Classicalite. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Russ Fischer (1 July 2014). "There Is Only One Cut of ‘Snowpiercer,’ Which Opens Wide This Week". Slash Film. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  26. ^ Ty Burr (28 June 2014). "Harvey Weinstein and the saga of ‘Snowpiercer’". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  27. ^ Trent Moore (2 July 2014). "Snowpiercer is FINALLY getting a wide release (and here's where it's playing)’". Blastr. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
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  29. ^ "Snowpiercer". Metacritic. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  30. ^ Stephen Cremin (2013-08-22). "South Korean thrillers take 90% market share". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  31. ^ "List of highest-grossing domestic films in South Korea". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  32. ^ "Box Office: July 25-August 7, 2013". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  33. ^ Film Music Reporter (2012-05-04). "Marco Beltrami to score "Snowpiercer" and "Warm Bodies"". Film Scoring Assignments.  Retrieved on 2012-05-07
  34. ^ Young, Al (2013-01-03). "Listen To A Track From Bong Joon-ho's SNOWPIERCER Soundtrack, Plus Concept Art". Twitch Film.  Retrieved on 2014-03-08
  35. ^ "2013: August 26: Snowpiercer OST released". Tenerife International Film Music Festival.  Retrieved on 2014-05-12
  36. ^ "Friday July 12th 2013". Marco Beltrami.  Retrieved on 2014-05-12

External links[edit]