Piercing Romantics

So, this world we live in is, it often seems to me, inhabited by overly romantic optimists. Don’t get me wrong, I count myself among those as well. We secretly (or not so secretly) hope and EXPECT a happy ending in everything from fiction to real life.  I understand the romantics, we often run to movies and books to escape the grim reality that surrounds us, but for how long can we run? snowpiercer-international-poster This week I watched Snowpiercer (dir. Joon-ho Bong) – a movie based on a French graphic novel. After seeing that the worldwide temperatures were not decreasing and that the global warming was threatening life on the planet, people decided to detonate a chemical device in the atmosphere that was supposed to stop the warming and perhaps decrease global temperature by a couple of degrees. But, surprise surprise, things went wrong and the entire world froze. The few lucky people who boarded a strange self-sustaining train that circles the Europe-Africa-Asia landmass are the only survivors. Of course the 1st class people are living the high life, while the “free-loaders” in the tail section not so much (lack of space, food consisting only of questionable protein jelly bars, harsh medieval punishments for disobedience….). The main character played by a bearded Captain America decides he’s had enough and that it’s time for a new uprising (previous uprisings all failed epically). This new uprising is planned by the “leader” of the tail section, recently ever present John Hurt, but is carried out by Captain and his possy. Spoiler alert! They make it to the front section, well, not all of them but Captain and two other characters, leaving behind them a train paved by dead bodies. Now, what Captain finds out when he meets the creator of the  train depresses him, and by what I’ve read of people’s reviews of the movie, it also depresses/surprises the audience. But, I gotta say, thinking rationally it should not surprise anyone. (spoiler) What Captain finds out is that John Hurt and the Creator (played by Ed Harris) were working together all this time, and all for one simple reason – making sure the train keeps on running. Harris tries to explain to Captain the reality they are all facing – the leftovers of the humanity are living on board a train that is sustaining them, but as with all closed eco-systems it depends on a very fine balance. It can only sustain so many people, and this forces the management of the train (both front- and back-section leaders) to make difficult choices. Those choices revolve around maintaining the population within sustainable numbers. They do this by encouraging revolts, ending revolts and then killing off the  excess population. This encouragement of revolts also serves an additional purpose – it gives the tail section people hope that things might get better eventually. snowpiercer-2-600x421 This might seem as a dark and gloomy look at the world and at human beings in general, but one must stop and think – is there an alternative? In drastic cases like the one depicted in this movie there is not really an option until the very end when (spoiler) some people realize that the global temperature is rising again above freezing levels. We are all used to food and water being readily available. We’re all used to going to the shops and buying things, ordering things online… but the whole world is not so lucky. And in the future, with the rate of planet destruction that’s currently happening, all of us might have to face situations similar to these. I once had a talk with an elderly professor of history and he asked me “What do you thing the world needs, and soon, if we plan on surviving by living as we do now?” I tried to answer him by talking about a world war or some such thing, but he simply said “Another Spanish flue only with more fatalities.” It is not a popular opinion, it is not even a humane / moral idea, but we do live in an isolated system and we’re running that system dry! We either have to change our habits or we have to face the unpleasant future. This was supposed to be a rant about our society being too used to happy endings to enjoy (not really the best word) a post-apocalyptic distopian movie. It ended up being my first ever eco piece!


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