Snowpiercer

The scene I wanted to focus on was the one in which Curtis and others from the tail section entered the school room. This scene contains a lot of very religious language and clear signs of propaganda and indoctrination. A lot of what we see in this scene has a very cult-like feel. When the teacher plays the video, the student’s all shout “Wilford” and make ‘W’ signs with their hands. The teacher describes Wilford as “prophetic” and the train is referred to as “sacred” and “eternal.” The children sing a song, with very religious undertones, by heart which implies that they have been introduced to it many times before. The bastardization of religious ideas is important because it shows just how much power Wilford has over the people of his train. To them, the train is heaven and he is God. The vast majority of passengers do not realize what is actually going on and believe exactly what Wilford wants them to, without question. Personally, I found this scene somewhat disturbing for these reasons.

Viewers also begin to see just how different life on the train is for the “front sectioners.”  This is only the third or fourth front-section car viewers see, but the colors are easily the most vibrant. The colors viewers see up until this point are mostly shades of brown and gray, but upon entering the front section, there are many more vibrant and clean colors, which certainly speaks to the decadence that the passengers of the front section enjoy.

This scene really shows why the tail sectioners feel they deserve more. It is clear that the front section has more than enough resources to be able to share equally. While life would not be as extravagant as it is now, it would be comfortable for all. If not for the obvious indoctrination and greed of the front sectioners that this scene introduces viewers to, there probably wouldn’t even be an issue. This movie really uses climate fiction as a frame to effectively to speak about ideas of revolution and control in ways that many others don’t do, and that was really refreshing to see.

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Snowpiercer (2014)

Throughout the movie there were a number of scenes that I could point to specifically and comment on, but one in particular that stood out was the one where Curtis talks about how “Babies Taste Best”.

 

There is obviously a lot of to comment on in terms of the gap of inequality that is occurring on the mega-train transporting the last surviving people around the Earth, but to me, this scene stands out for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the tail-enders have had to resort to cannibalism to survive.  While they had been fed gelatinous protein bars made of insects, it simply wasn’t enough to sustain them.  Again, it is obvious what Curtis is saying is awful, but where the scene gets its power is from Chris Evans’ ability to convey that to Namgoong.   Throughout the movie I gathered there was a specific theme to it.  There was an absolute indoctrination of the upper class on the train that made them feel okay with the way they were treating the tail-enders.  This movie was also Korean produced, and the parallels I am drawing to North Korea in this are plenty; from the wealth of the high class, to the destitution of the tail-enders, to the mechanical nature of the world they live in, and finally to the way with which the people revere Wilford.  It’s all reminiscent of a despotism that exists merely across  the border of the movie’s producers.  I found these connections to be a direct commentary on the current world and found it incredibly interesting that they were able to employ such themes in the movie that is entirely set on a massive train.

Snowpiercer

In Snowpiercer, human society and culture has existed in this contained system: the train.  The front car passengers live in luxury while the tail-enders live in the back forced to survive under what amounts to tyrannical rule. In this scene, Mason (Tilda Swinton) gives a speech in response to an “assault” by Andrew (Ewen Bremmer) who is punished in the horrifying fashion of having his arm frozen off. The speech is limited by the 7 minute time constraint their calculations determine it will take to freeze his arm solid.

When the speech begins, two translators begin interpreting her words before being told that they don’t have time for the “nonsense.” This shows the multi-cultural heterogeneous makeup of the citizens aboard the train, but also the persisting dominance of English. Later in the film, we learn of universal translators , but the tail-enders are barely given food, so a luxury such as that would not be used.

The tone of the speech is delivered with such a condescending attitude and juxtaposed against the horrific screams of poor Andrew. Mason, and the entire crew behind them, completely lacks empathy for the torture they are subjecting this man to, because by their code of morals, disrespect of the poor to the privileged is more important.

“Order is the barrier that holds back the thrall’s of death.” The purpose of the speech is that order must be kept in this society, and as such there will be a population that struggles and suffers for the comfort of an elite few. While all of human civilization has crumbled, this aspect is what has been retained by their new leaders. There isn’t even a cause for currency anymore, with the front section passengers basically inheriting their spots, and the tail-enders only being “promoted” on a whim for the need of a trained violinist or a cleaning servant.  “So it is.”

The class inequality in the film is highlighted by the restricted nature of their society. The marginalized poor exist only yards away, not in another country or the deep inner city. And yet, from what we see in the rest of the film, they are easily ignored and forgotten by the rest of society until the revolution happens.

In this scene, we get a glimpse into how the “Front-enders” live. The song that they sing has become so ingrained, potentially played daily from how well rehearsed the children, and Mason, are.Immediately before this , we are shown a propaganda film about Wilfred’s train that is used to indoctrinate the new generation on the train about how wonderful their leader is. This is analogous to North Korean propaganda films, with Wilfred being called “Divine” and “Merciful” throughout the film. The song, and it’s rehearsed nature, can also be seen as an analog to the American Pledge of Allegiance,  which is taught to children long before they are aware of the definitions of the words contained within. Propaganda plays an important aspect in how people are controlled to maintain order. While it may not be the vicarious punishment the tail-enders are subjected to, it is still useful in keeping the population in order. And in the world of Snowpiercer, many in power believe order is all that is keeping humanity alive.

 

 

Reminders for Wed. (11/18)

Hi all,

Some quick reminders for Wednesday’s class, Nov. 18th:

  • We will be discussing the movie Snowpiercer, which is on reserve at the Media Center in the Douglass Library. You will have Wednesday morning to watch it before I take the film off reserve.
    • Bloggers: Wen-Chiao O’Boyle, Adrian Casper, Matthew Berns
    • Facilitators: Adrian Casper and Marjorie Eyong
  • By now, all of you should know your group for the final project. As I mentioned in class today, please select one person from your group to email me (proftran100@gmail.com) the following information by noon this Friday, Nov. 20th:
    • Names of all of your group members
    • The title of the text(s)/object(s)  you are planning to facilitate
    • The date and slot (A/B) of your facilitation
  • *Important note: For those of you who were absent, we have collectively decided to cancel class next Monday, Nov. 23rd, so everyone will have more time to work on the final project and to get an early start to Thanksgiving break!

Best,

Prof. Tran

Orleans (235-324)

“Have you thought of a name for her yet?” Mr. Go ask, nodding at Baby Girl.

I make a face. It be a big deal, naming someone. But I been thinking Nola, for New Orleans, or Enola for East Orleans. “Enola,” I tell him. “Enola Jeanne Marie, so she always know where she come from.”

“Enola,” Mr. Go repeat, rolling the word in his mouth like he drinking it. “I think that sounds just fine.”

(Page 272)

This conversation takes place between Fen and Mr. Go, right before Fen, Daniel, and Baby Girl try to head for the Wall. In this moment, Fen finally gives Baby Girl a name, Enola. This scene is significant for a few different reasons. From a reader’s perspective first of all, it subtly shifts the way we see Fen and Baby Girl’s relationship. Fen isn’t just protecting Lydia’s baby anymore; she is protecting Enola. While the reader is already attached to Baby Girl at this point in the novel, the simple fact that Fen names her adds another layer of connection between her and Baby Girl.

Additionally, it’s interesting to note how briefly and seemingly innocuously this moment comes up. The fact that Baby Girl finally has a name should be a big deal, but the author chooses to illustrate this moment with relatively sparse language.The understated quality of the moment aligns well with how Fen has been portrayed throughout the novel. While you can tell that she has already grown to care for Baby Girl, her moments of care have up until this point mostly been illustrated trough her devotion to Lydia’s memory, her determination to get Baby Girl to safety, or through how she handles Baby Girl, rather than through her words.

I hold baby girl to me. Got to feed her soon, got to lay her down for some real sleep. I count the days she been alive. “I ain’t risking Baby Girl catching the Fever. I gotta get her to father John first thing tomorrow, before she stuck here forever.” (Page 261)

Despite the sparse language of the naming scene, however, this moment represents one of the first times that we see Fen really verbalize how much she cares for and thinks about Baby Girl. While the moment may seem sudden, Fen explains that she has actually been thinking about a name for Baby Girl for a while, indicating how much Fen thinks about Baby Girl beyond just getting her to safety. Fen decides to name her after East Orleans “so that she always knows where she come from.” It’s a surprisingly sentimental gesture from Fen, hinting for the first time that parting with Baby Girl will end up having a strong emotional effect on her. Fen’s words are also especially poignant when you consider how much Fen and the people in Orleans treasure the memory of the legend of New Orleans and what the city once was. Fen chooses to give Baby Girl a name that represents that treasured history and it’s legends, further acknowledging the depth of her feeling toward Baby Girl.

This moment also serves as a turning point for the way that Fen talks about Baby Girl for the remainder of the novel. From this moment on, Fen steadily becomes more verbally protective of Enola, such as when she defends her from the O-neg tribe a few pages later (My face go cold as stone. “She ain’t for sale. (Page 282)) and culminating in the scene in with Father John near the end, when Fen nearly cries as she tells Baby Girl that she loves her and says her good-byes. (Page 303)

-Marjorie Eyong

Nicole’s Response to pages 234-325 of “Orleans”

“I don’t pray, but I kiss the cross and I say good-bye. Then I walk into the swamp and the trees be so tall, it felt like a cathedral from a photograph, high arches, cool and deep and green. The water be warmer than it look. It feel good to the touch, so i step in, lower and lower, ignoring the moss and green scum on the surface. I drag my hands behind me and I start to feel so light. I start humming that song Father John be singing to Enola. It be soothing and I need that, so I be humming, then I be singing. ‘Would you be free from your passion and pride? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood.’ I lay back in the water like a baptism, and the swamp be dancing around my ears, little sounds like clinking glass, and it smell of earth and water, and it feel warm, like blood. ‘Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide; there’s wonderful power in the blood.'”

“The City takes. Well, if She want me, She can have me. Maybe then She leave Enola alone. I lie in the water and let the current carry me away” (Smith 305-306).

This scene is one of the most touching excerpts in the entire novel. In this passage, Smith effectively creates a powerful sense of poignancy. evokes a sentimental mood within the audience, and establishes a tranquil, unperturbed tone. At this point in the book, Fen has now “lost” Lydia’s baby girl, Enola, to Father John and has visited her parents’ old cottage to reflect her memories of them. The author implies that the protagonist, after losing her last loved one, basically succumbs to the City and is not really sure of what to do with herself. She does not have a motive to go anywhere, with no objectives to fulfill, like she had before when she was with Enola. This causes her to immerse her body and mind in the water and release all of her stress building inside, which is something that Fen had not had a chance to do throughout the entire novel. The author’s diction-words such as “soothing, warm, and light”- contribute to the tranquility of the setting and tone of the scene. Smith employs other imagery to add to the serenity of the swamp and forest, making this location be somewhat of a temporary haven to Fen. Smith utilities several similes: “The trees be so tall, it felt like a cathedral from a photograph, high arches, cool and deep and green” and “I lay back in the water like a baptism.” Comparing the foliage to a church allows readers to imagine the forest as colossal and open, a place that allows the character to finally relax and breathe. In addition, polysyndeton is evident when Fen expresses the trees are “cool and deep and green”. This deliberate use of excessive conjunctions leads to an effect of multiplicity and builds up the vividness of the imagery.  Moreover, Smith implements personification -“The swamp be dancing around my ears” to make the water come to life and, again, make the surroundings more lively. Lastly, Fen’s decision to let the city “take” her is straightforward, and this matter-of-fact way is shown by the syntax of the last two lines: “The City takes. Well, if She want me, She can have me. Maybe then She leave Enola alone.” These succinct phrases illustrate Fen’s hardheadedness and how her emotions do not get the best of her. While Fen might let her feelings escape, Fen’s “surrender” creates a mood of melancholy within the audience, evoking sorrow for what the girl has been through and lost.

Orleans (235-324)

“I don’t take long saying good-bye ’cause it hurt. Like Daddy say: Run Fen, and don’t look back. So I don’t. Even when Baby Girl starts to fuss and be crying, I keep walking. Father John takes the chains off the doors, now that the sun be fixing to rise. Baby Girl wailing for all she worth. She ain’t used to Father John. She ain’t used nobody but me. Then I hear him start humming to her, a real old song he used to play when we been here long ago. He a good man. She gonna be all right with him. I shut the door behind me.” (Smith 303)

 

This shows the extreme bond  that Fen has with her daughter. She wants to keep her but she can’t because she has no tribe and no home. Her daughter is infected. This shows that heart-breaking decision that Fen has to go through as a mother to leave her daughter behind. A bond between a mother and child is very strong but she has no choice but to leave her baby behind. To her, leaving her child behind hurts a lot. There is a lot of crying by the child and all she wants to do is take care of her, but she has to choose to keep walking. In fact, Fen recalls on her own relationship with her father to help her through. She recalls her father saying to keep walking and not look back, and she uses this to help her heal the pain.

We can also see that Father John is the best person to take care of this child. It provides a little comfort for Fen. She hears him humming to her to calm her down. Even Fen starts to realize that leaving Baby Girl with Father John is the best thing to do and that “She gonna be all right with him” (Smith 303).

Finally, there is a significance about the fact that the sun rising and the fact that this scene occurs in the church. Both of these facts help show that there is a chance of rebirth for the child. The church is a very sacred place and by leaving her there, Fen gives her a pure start to her life. In addition, as she is leaving the sun is rising. This shows that dawn is now here and that the baby is  going to have her best chance of life in this church.

This scene is very important at illustrating Fen’s struggle to leave her baby behind, but also helps show the start of a new life that the child now has.