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Snowpiercer is the Netflix post apocalyptic, dystopian drama that began in May 2020.
Snowpiercer is set in 2026, seven years after the world is frozen over and the last remaining survivors of humanity have taken shelter on a perpetually moving train. The train was designed by the eccentric billionaire Mr Wilford, who is played by Sean Bean and it consists of 1,001 carriages all of which are separated by an imposed class system. The constant movement of the train provides energy and warmth for the passengers but despite its luxury promise, there is a strict social hierarchy and resources are reserved for those in higher classes. Snowpiercer is a show about survival both physically after the apocalypse but also survival in terms of class warfare, politics and social injustice.
1. Snowpiercer Is Based On A French Graphic Novel
The story of Snowpiercer started life as a French Graphic Novel published in 1982 named Le Transperceneige. It was written by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette and has since been expanded by other writers. An English translation was released by Titan Comics in 2014.
2. There Is A Snowpiercer Film Directed By Bong Joon-ho
Snowpiercer was turned into a film by the Oscar-winning, South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite 2019). Snowpiercer, the film was released in 2013 and starred Chris Evans as Curtis Everett, the leader of the revolution. Ed Harris played Mr. Wilford but Dustin Hoffman was considered for the role. Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Song Kang-ho and Octavia Spencer all starred.
3. Snowpiercer Was In “Development Hell” For Three Years
Snowpiercer was in development with the channel TNT for over three years. It faced numerous issues with production delays which arose from creative differences between the channel and the creators. It remained in creative purgatory until around May 2019 when it was announced that the series would air on TBS instead of TNT in 2020. At this time it had already been renewed for a second season but in September 2019 the plan to change networks was reversed.
Bong Joon-Ho was listed as an Executive Producer on the Snowpiercer TV series alongside Marty Adelstein (Prison Break, Tru Calling) and Josh Friedman (Avatar 2, Locke & Key, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Friedman served as the showrunner with TNT and Scott Derrickson (The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) would direct the pilot.
In 2018, Friedman was removed from the project by TNT due to creative differences with the network. Derickson refused to return for re-shoots on the pilot due to creative differences with Friedman’s replacement Graham Manson. In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Scott Derrickson said that Friedman’s “72-page Snowpiercer TV pilot script…[was] the best [he had] ever read” and that “the feature-length pilot [he] made from that script may be [his] best work.” James Hawes (Dr Who, Penny Dreadful, Black Mirror) joined Snowpiercer in July 2018 as Director to oversee the re-shoots but according to a Variety article, most of the original pilot’s footage was omitted.
4. Snowpiercer Has Been Renewed For 4 Seasons
Most of the production for Snowpiercer Season Two was completed ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shutdowns of studios in the United States. The second season premiered on the 25th of January 2021 and ahead of this a third season was already secured. The third season premiered on the 24th of January 2022 and it was already renewed for a fourth season in July 2021.
5. Snowpiercer The TV Show Was To Follow The 2013 Film’s Continuity
The script for Snowpiercer the TV series was set to be a reboot of the 2013 film and follow the same continuity. The story ends up expanding the world established by both the film and the 1982 graphic novel. Daveed Diggs, who plays Andre Layton in the show, claimed in an interview with IGN that a benefit of using TV as a medium was the ability to expand and explore storylines in much more depth than a film would allow.
6. Daveed Diggs Was First To Be Cast On Snowpiercer
Daveed Diggs was the first actor to be cast for his role Andre Layton in Snowpiercer in 2017. Jennifer Connelly and Mickey Sumner were cast in their roles the following month. It is interesting to note that Diggs’ character Andre Layton is called by his surname Layton whereas Jennifer Connelly’s character Melanie Cavill is always referred to by her first name.
13 of the original actors to appear in the first pilot of Snowpiercer went on to star in the second version of the pilot however many of them were re-cast as different characters.
7. Snowpiercer Was Filmed In British Columbia
Snowpiercer began filming reshoots of the original pilot in August 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The production also filmed in Langley, British Columbia.
8. Snowpiercer’s Train Took Nearly 3 Days To Design
Snowpiercer’s production designer Barry Robison discussed in an interview with Architectural Digest how he bought the 1,001 carriage locomotive to life. Despite the train appearing in the 2013 film, Robison gave the TV version his own identity. He drew the train out on a “very, very long piece of paper” which took him around three days to complete. A design team in Vancouver were tasked with constructing 20 out of the 1,001 carriages of various sizes across four sound stages. The channel TNT had stipulated that the train should be kept as convincing as possible and not to stray too far into Science Fiction. The construction of each of the carriages to reflect different social classes took less than six weeks to finish. The design was approved by the Series Producer and Bong Joon-Ho.
9. Snowpiercer’s Bug Bars Were Given Out At Comic Con
You may remember that passengers on Snowpiercer were given bars made from ground up insects as part of their food rations. To promote the first season of Snowpiercer at San Diego Comic Con, Insect Protein Bars were created mimicking those from the show. The bars were available throughout the weekend in the exhibition hall via special vending machines where fans would have to enter their email address to receive one.
10. How Does Snowpiercer The Train Keep Moving?
The train, Snowpiercer, has to keep moving in order to keep its inhabitants alive. As the world beyond the train is too cold for human life, the train uses an “Eternal Engine” which is depicted in the blueprints during the opening credits. If Snowpiercer stopped for more than 13 minutes, everyone on board would freeze to death.
Snowpiercer departed from Chicago which is often referred to as “mile zero” and it took less than six months to get back to its original starting position. This is referred to as “one revolution”.
11. Are The Snowpiercer Carriages The Same Size?
Initial criticism of Snowpiercer discussed the unrealistic and oversized interiors of some of the carriages, mainly the “Night Car”. Critics argued that the train seemed to be suffering from a TARDIS effect; the inside is bigger than the outside would have you believe. However, some eagle eyed viewers have pointed out that you can see during some of the exterior shots of the train that the Carriages differ in size. Presumably the larger carriages would be reserved for First Class passengers therefore just another device to show class division at play.
12. The Snowpiercer TV Series Predates The Snowpiercer Film
The network TNT have released a timeline of the apocalypse in Snowpiercer. Snowpiercer, the TV series, is set seven years after the big freeze wiped out the inhabitants of Earth. However, the 2013 film version takes place 17 years after the apocalypse which means that the TV series actually predates the film by 10 years despite it using the film as a basis for continuity.
13. It Cost $400 Million To Be In Snowpiercer’s First Class
Snowpiercer consists of three explicit classes, “The Tail” right at the back and “The Engine” right at the front. The passengers who travel in “the tail” forced their way onto the train as it was departing Chicago and were allowed to stay in exchange for working on the train. There is believed to be about 400 passengers living in The Tail.
Third Class passengers did not pay for their tickets either so also have to work. Whereas First Class passengers did pay to board and live on the train. One First Class passenger mentioned that they paid US$400 million to be on board. The Engine is reserved for the engineers and Mr Wilford himself.
Third Class is where the agricultural section is housed and it is said to span around 150 carriages long.
14. The Snowpiercer Train Must Be Longer Than 10 Miles
One mathematical Snowpiercer fan has worked out on IMDB that the train has a total length of 10 miles/16 km. This was calculated using the figure of 1,001 total carriages and the assumption that the majority of the carriages were the same length around 15m long. They also suggested that this figure seemed quite short in comparison to the standard size of train carriages in the USA which are around 25m as of 2020. They also suggest that 10 miles might be an estimate by passengers in “The Tail” of the train.
15. The Episodes Are Named After Lines In The Script
Each episode of Snowpiercer is named after a line in the script from the episode's opening narrative.
16. Snowpiercer Does Not Travel Through The UK
The route Snowpiercer takes around the world suggests that there is a connection between the continents, potentially frozen oceans. Viewers can see a world map created by Wilford Industries on display in the hospitality rooms and in the opening sequence of each episode. The route depicted shows the train travelling around the major coastlines of most continents but Northern Europe including Great Britain and Scandinavia as well as Greenland are missed out.
16. How Cold Is The World Outside Of Snowpiercer?
Throughout the episodes of Snowpiercer, the temperature outside has been shown as around -120°C which is about -184°F.
17. Guns Were Not Allowed On The Train
For members of the public, guns were confiscated when boarding Snowpiercer However members of First Class managed to have their personal security guards secretly carry their guns on board the train. The police and army substitutes on Snowpiercer are just armed with batons and blades.
18. There Are Some Major Differences Between Snowpiercer Adaptations
As discussed above, Snowpiercer the TV show happened seven years after the initial apocalyptic event whereas Snowpiercer, the film, is set 17 years after.
Tilda Swinton’s film character, Minister Mason, is actually separated into two characters in the Snowpiercer TV series i.e. Ruth and Melanie. Melanie is the voice of the train whereas Ruth is very hands-on and visits many areas of the train itself.
Unlike the film version of Snowpiercer, Mr Wilford is not on the train and hasn’t been since it departed Chicago originally at mile zero. Melanie is actually leading the train and pretends that Mr Wilford is there until her lie is exposed in Season One. Melanie claims that she left Mr Wilford behind during departure and that she had designed Both the train and its engine.
In the TV series there is more than one train. The Season One finale introduces a second train to the story called “Big Alice” which has significantly bigger carriages than Snowpiercer. Mr Wilford is on board this second train.
19. Snowpiercer Has A “Brave New World” Connection
Members of the crew on Snowpiercer make a “W” gesture across the chest when they mention Mr Wilford. This makes audiences think of a religious symbol such as when some Christians make a cross on their chest. Equally this may remind audience members of the 1932 novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley in which characters make a “T” gesture across their chests and use the name Henry T. Ford in similar religious parallels. It is interesting to note how much the name Mr Wilford is similar to that of Henry T. Ford.
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