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.”


December 23, 2014admin 12 Comments »


12 Responses to this entry

  • Snowpiercer | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on December 24th, 2014 at 1:05 am Reply | Quote
  • swf Says:

    But your reading doesn’t account for the final step, which rejects “the secrets of power.” I find Jacobin’s account more plausible:


    Posted on December 24th, 2014 at 3:27 pm Reply | Quote
  • Erebus Says:

    “Apocalyptic neoreactionary speculative drama”

    Just the other day I watched a movie called “Autómata”. It’s not a good movie. The narrative theme and the visuals are derivative — it doesn’t deviate from paths already well-trodden by Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and Ridley Scott, among others — and we’ve seen it all before. But the movie is definitely a part of the sub-genre you’ve just named, in that it depicts a post-collapse caste-society, managed by a corporate overclass that controls everything from the weather to law enforcement. (And benevolently enough, under the circumstances.)

    As far as literature is concerned, I think that we could trace the origins of apocalyptic neoreactionary speculative fiction all the way back to Mary Shelley’s “The Last Man” — which is unapologetically NRx, as a central point concerns the breakdown of a dysfunctional democratic system and the return of the Heroic True King to power.

    …A full list of speculative fiction with an apocalyptic neoreactionary bent would a while to compile. Not a small sub-genre by any means. We’d even be able to fit “The Day of the Triffids” in there somewhere…


    Posted on December 24th, 2014 at 7:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • Rufio Says:


    What’d you think about the ending?

    One of the persons I watched the film with got all proggy about it, saying that they could now finally leave the oppressive system. And oh look a polar bear, a sign of life. How great that there is now life outside the train.

    What about all the life on the train that was now gone? From an entire train of people to two.

    And when the two got outside the train, what was waiting on the other side? A mountain of snow capped with a polar bear. Not a flower or fox or bird, but a massive polar bear who most likely was looking down at the child and woman as food. Without technology, that polar bear is the apex predator — not the human woman and child.

    Given the bear outside the train as a sign of life, if they had maintained the system for just awhile longer there was a chance that the entire train of people could have emerged to rebuild.

    Check out director Bong Joon-ho’s other films. He’s no stranger to horror:


    Posted on December 24th, 2014 at 11:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • Zimriel Says:

    Mr Land, you need to alert the critics at Blowhards / Uncouth-RefIections. Myself, I find that any work that tries *this* hard to be clever has crossed over to being stupid again.

    Elysium was similar: Matt Damon handed an r-selected proletariat from K-selected humans over to benevolent robots, and we’re supposed to be rooting for Damon. The movie was so overtly Left (and Damon was so ridiculous) that it forced the watcher to think Right in reaction. In my case this forced me out of the movie.

    If you want a work that seduces you on the monster’s behalf, read Dune. Hell, *watch* Dune – any of them, even the documentary about the 1970s Dune that didn’t get made.


    Krelian Reply:

    [quote]The movie was so overtly Left (and Damon was so ridiculous) that it forced the watcher to think Right in reaction. In my case this forced me out of the movie.[/quote]

    This may sound strange, but I believe that was the director’s intent. To make a film that would on the surface appear to be aligned with Left so that it he could get it made, but to those with their eyes open, would show the true horror and consequences of the Leftist project.


    Posted on December 25th, 2014 at 6:18 am Reply | Quote
  • Sam Goldwyn Says:

    Snow piercer —here— raises some fascinating questions.


    Posted on December 25th, 2014 at 10:01 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Merry Christmas.

    Told ya about Snow piercer, very NRxn. Esp Ed Harris.

    Which means Admin is John Hurt.

    Can we talk to Ed Harris? This is taking too long.


    Posted on December 25th, 2014 at 4:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • blankmisgivings Says:

    Christopher Priest’s similar ‘Inverted World’ offers a three-fold set of political options a lot more subtle than Snowpiercer. In Priest’s novel, a City is being trundled around a post-apocalyptic world, powered by a virtual reality engine (not understood by its inhabitants) which persuades its leaders that they must keep it rolling forward on tracks to avoid destruction by time-space distortion. Priest offers three political paths – the ‘elite’ choice to keep going, which reaches an aporia when the city comes to an ocean; ‘secondly rebel’ and stop the city – which, while the ‘correct’ choice would lead to madness and death, without understanding the virtual reality engine’s mechanism; thirdly, Priest provides a scientific-pragmatic Deus ex machina in the form of an external intervention explaining the mechanism to the inhabitants and disillusioning them of their ‘false choice’. In Snowpiercer on the other hand, we have a threefold choice of left-demotism and right-fascism locked in a hidden dialectic, versus the anarchist choice to ‘open the door’. I think Priest is more subtle about how political order is maintained, and more classically conservative about the limitations of any social order – -worth a read!


    Posted on December 26th, 2014 at 10:19 am Reply | Quote
  • Nyan Sandwich Says:

    Damn. Bizarre. Some of my family was too prog-pwned to get it, but it was brilliant. The train is a microcosm that accelerates the human condition.


    Posted on December 28th, 2014 at 6:12 am Reply | Quote
  • Richard Says:

    Worth a look-see.


    Posted on December 30th, 2014 at 8:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Snowpiercer Almost Gets There | Neoreactive Says:

    […] Mr. Land. I could not let a Snowpiercer post go by without shouting down this piece of celluloid feces. “Apocalyptic neoreactionary […]

    Posted on January 7th, 2015 at 3:17 pm Reply | Quote

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