LAFF: Tilda Swinton, Director Bong Joon-Ho Talk Protest-Theme Appeal at 'Snowpiercer' Premiere
The 20th annual Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off Wednesday night with the premiere of Bong Joon-Ho's highly-anticipated Snowpiercer, as the post-apocalyptic thriller's stars Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Ko Asung and Kang-ho Song joining the director at L.A Live.
Adapted by Bong and Kelly Masterson from the graphic novel Le Transperceneige, the film — set in a future in which a failed experiment to put an end to global warming has resulted in an ice age — focuses on violence and conflict that ensues from inequality. Bong hopes the Swinton-starrer, which mirrors social structures through cars on a train and features an uprising from the poor-filled caboose led by Chris Evans, impacts an American audience with its message of revolution in a class-segregated system.
"I can't imagine that humanity has ever not been interested in that," Swinton told The Hollywood Reporter about the appeal of dystopian films. "It's part of the human condition, fantasizing about what the worst possible scenario could be. This film, it's an allegory. It could in a way have been made in the 14th-century, but at the same time, it's also about the 99 percent. It's about unfairness, so in that sense, it’s absolutely been up to date. I think people in the states will really notice that. A few years ago, it would have felt more made up, but I think there’s something very topical for people to hang on to. It’s not just a fairy story."
Swinton said her makeover for playing prime minister Mason was "like playing dress-up," while Alison Pill plays an armed schoolteacher in one of the train's cabins. "The story about this closed-cast system on this train, and the fight to create more equality in this system, is fascinating," said Pill. "The philosophical questions raised — like 'What is your place in the world?' and 'Are you at the back of the train or at the front of the train?' and 'What do you do to keep yourself there?' — are really big questions and, I think, worthy of asking, especially in this country today."
Slated for a June 27 U.S. release, Snowpiercer is Bong's first English-language production, which sold four million tickets in South Korea after only a week in theaters, the shortest time span in South Korean box-office history. Bong told THR that the film keeps audiences engaged for two hours with the concept of surviving inside a moving locomotive.
"I think the movie has another layer, which is, 'What is the real way of revolution?'" said Bong. "Chris Evans' character is about moving forward to the front of the train, whereas the other character is focused on getting outside the train. It’s two different ideas about revolution that are happening simultaneously."
The Weinstein Company's RADiUS-TWC's is distributing the film, and RADiUS-TWC's Tom Quinn and Jason Janego agreed that they were very open to supporting the director's latest sci-fi adventure, having worked with him in the past. "It deals with something that in the worst-case scenario this is something that actually could possibly happen," said Janego, co-president of RADiUS-TWC. "I know it sounds crazy, but this planet lived through an ice age once before. Who knows if it’s going to happen once again, and if it did what, would people actually do? Maybe someone would build a train that could actually go around the world repeatedly. Who knows? That’s what draws people to this kind of film."
LAFF 2014 runs June 11-19 at L.A. Live.