Shrew wrote: ↑
Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:43 pm
I don't think the film is nihilistic, but rather takes a structuralist view on class. Meaning that the enemy is inequality itself, not rich people who obtained their wealth in morally objectionable ways or are otherwise just plain evil (as in the recent Ready or Not). That inequality forces those on the low end of the totem pole into competition, which breeds amorality and suffering, while the morality of the haves (and here I'd agree the best word is "benign") is irrelevant to whether the system is fair or not. But this also means that an "eat the rich" mentality isn't productive, as seen in the anti-cathartic ending.
(Sorry to quote/ reply to conversation from more than a week ago, but the film just now opened where I live.)
I agree 100% with this. I thought this film was quite a bit more sophisticated than Snowpiercer
in its examination of class. That film felt like a clumsy, heavy-handed attempt to make a popular Marxist blockbuster with a simplistic view of class struggle (which I loved for that reason, but it was hardly saying anything about revolution that one couldn't glean from the wikipedia entry for the Manifesto
is more interesting because it refuses easy answers.
It is also notable that the film takes on some specific facets of contemporary global capitalism: the "gig" economy (the pizza box scene), environmental inequality, and the focus on the unemployed or underemployed rather than the traditional "working class." Especially key is its distinction between the working class and the unemployed, especially those who were formerly employed. Employment becomes a zero-sum game for the poor, and the film constantly demonstrates (often in a comic register) that someone has to lose a job in order for someone else to have one. This forced competition between those with jobs and those who want jobs is one thing that prevents working class solidarity. I think this is the essential tragic theme of the film.
Similarly, it effectively demonstrates the way that poor people often identify with the rich rather than with other members of the working class, once again foreclosing solidarity.
Finally, it does a great job dramatizing how the poor continue to hold out hope that they can be rich, either through marriage or hard work:
This is what makes the son's fantasy at the end that he will one day buy the house and free his father so poignant and tragic.
I think it is precisely because it is so effectively dramatizing these dilemmas that the ending refuses catharsis.
An act of violence against a rich person does nothing to change the balance of power. Snowpiercer can only imagine violence as revolutionary because it reduces the complexity of the world to the difference between first class and coach on a train.
Politics aside, I think this makes the film better precisely because it results in a more "open" narrative that cannot answer the problems that it poses.