Sci-Fi Spotlight: Sometimes the Movie is Better

Snowpiercer is a 1982 French graphic novel that has both a film and a television adaptation.  I haven’t seen the TV show, but I have read the graphic novel and seen the movie.  The movie is better.

I know people like to say the book is always better, but that’s not always the case.  Most of the time, I will agree that the book is better.  A lot of the content in the book will get cut from the film for the sake of time.  So, generally speaking, the book is better.  In the case of Snowpiercer though, I think the movie is the superior product.

The graphic novel is a grimdark/post-apocalyptic story.  It’s set in a world that is frozen over and what’s left of humanity is forced to live on a train known as the Snowpiercer.  We follow a man making his way from the back of the train, the slums, to the front.  I think the concept is interesting, but it works better in the movie.  In the movie, the characters are out to overthrow a corrupt system and improve their lives.  The main character in the graphic novel is just doing things because he can.  He doesn’t care about anyone else and when he gets to the front and finds out all of the secrets he just accepts his lot and that’s the end.

Overall, the story is just really depressing.  The message seems to be “yeah, life sucks, now be quiet while you’re miserable.”  Which to me defeats the purpose of fiction.  It’s supposed to be an escape.  Things can be metaphors and you can draw greater meaning from the media you’re consuming.  I just don’t see the point in consuming media that tells me that my lot in life sucks and I should just accept that and be depressed in a corner.

Snowpiercer, the film is directed by Bong Joon-ho, the man who directed Parasite.  A lot of his work isn’t uplifting in the end.  Even in his films where the characters don’t change their circumstances you still understand that he’s being critical of the situation that created those circumstances.  Also, along the way you generally have a good time.  I thought the ending of Parasite was very sad, but on the way, there were good times and the story is very compelling.  You’re not just following a guy who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself and in the end decides that it was a good thing that he was treated so badly because that’s how society continues to function.

The Snowpiercer movie is actually a nice action piece about overthrowing a corrupt system and it’s a good time.  It’s trying to be a metaphor, make a critique, and shine a light on uncomfortable topics.  In fact, it isn’t trying very hard to hide any of those things, but you can just sit there and have a good time.  Which makes it far more successful than the graphic novel.  The graphic novel just wants you to feel sad and hopeless.  The journey isn’t even very fun or interesting to look at.  I’m sure some people will tell me I’m missing the point of the graphic novel  Which might be true, but if I can’t enjoy anything about a story then is there a point.

The movie is a good time despite the subject matter.  The look of the movie is great, I love the sets, and the action is great to watch.  I care about what the director has to say because I enjoyed the content of the film he made.  A film that I find much more compelling than the book it was based on.

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Sarah Bieniek

Sarah Bieniek

I live in the desert and spend a lot of time reading comics and any science fiction I can get my hands on.
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I live in the desert and spend a lot of time reading comics and any science fiction I can get my hands on.

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