Singapore Airlines is awesome to a preposterous degree — a fact that might feed into the recent outburst of reactionary curmudgeonry about mass air travel (which I need to track down). It was an opportunity to catch up on some movies I’d missed. The most notable of these was Snowpiercer (highly recommended).
It’s one of those movies you have to stick with — give up before you’re halfway through and you’ll have no idea what all the fuss was about, but make it to the end and you’ll know you’ve seen something memorable. The genre is becoming huge. It could probably be described uncontroversially as apocalyptic neoreactionary speculative drama. Gibson’s The Peripheral is self-consciously there. One obvious (and striking) movie comparison is Elysium. In its purest form, the genre goes to rightist places nothing else quite reaches.
It begins with a revolutionary-leftist frame, which is eventually broken on the wheel of irony (more or less occult). The more subterranean the ironization, the more comical the result. In this respect, Snowpiercer is more Animal Farm than Elysium — which is to say, a far more overtly reactionary work. “Order is the barrier that holds back the frozen death. … All things flow from the sacred engine.”
It follows The Heart of Darkness plot-structure — journey towards a source of dark enlightenment. In this case, ‘Kurtz’ is Wilford and (the Apocalypse Now replacement for Marlow) ‘Willard’ is Curtis, which seems quite blatant — but maybe that’s just me. The process is certainly comparable: the slow stripping away of liberal illusions over the course of a voyage into the machine-core of the real (‘the end of the river’, ‘the front of the train’) like a tender white pelt coming away under the action of a jungle-war combat knife. The Curtis-Wilford meeting at the end of Snowpiercer is Apocalypse Now-influenced even down to the psycho-cosmic / religious details of its theatrical Oedipalism and immersion into the myth of (Frazer’s) sacrificed king. Infantile rebellion against the cruelties of the realist order is metamorphosed not only into intellectual acceptance, but into an utterly ‘corrupting’ offer of consummate power and doom.
“We’ve seen what people do without leadership — they devour one another.” The cannibalism isn’t merely figurative. You’ve arrived at the front of the train (an Art Deco glory, btw.), “the eternal engine”, where the secrets of power are to be shatteringly revealed.
There’s one final step to take: “The gate to the outside world. It’s been frozen shut for 18 years. You can take it as a wall.”
— SOBL1 (@SOBL1) December 26, 2014