Bong Joon-ho’s apocalyptic thriller, Snowpiercer, has been breaking records in its Korean homeland. Joon-ho held the previous record in Korea when The Host became their biggest film of all time, and now Snowpiercer was surpassed that in just a few days! In just six days, the film has achieved a whopping $21.4 million thanks to 3.76 million admissions, cementing Snowpiercer was Korea’s newest biggest ever film.
Reviews by critics from Twitch, Variety, Screen Daily and The Hollywood Reporter are all praising the films brilliance, and with such a strong cast of familiar faces, the film is expected to do massive business whenever it finally gets a release around the rest of the world. However, the film is being released by The Weinstein Company, and suddenly this has caused a problem.
Known in the business as Harvey ‘Scissorhands’ Weinstein, cutting films to ‘dumb them down’ for an English speaking audience is something Weinstein makes a habit of. Just recently he ordered twenty minutes of cuts to martial arts epic, The Grandmaster, and he has now ordered Snowpiercer director Bon Joon-ho to do the same for its North American, UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa release.
According to film critic and programmer Tony Rayns, Weinstein ordered the films running time of 126 minutes to be reduced by twenty minutes, and he said that the reasons were simple: “TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa … and Oklahoma.'”
WTF???? Rayns went on, clearly angry Rayns next statement is quite offensive, and was probably said in the heat of the moment due to such a baffling and ludicrous decision: “Leaving aside the issue of what Weinstein thinks of its audience, it seems to say the least anomalous that the rest of the English-speaking world has to be dragged down to the presumed level of American mid-west hicks”
So, while that last bit could be offensive, you can surely sympathize with Rayns’ anger? I mean, who is Harvey Weinstein to tell us what we can and cannot understand? And who is he to say that we simply won’t get it, and that the film needs to be dumbed down for us to actually enjoy it.
Rayns attended the July 29th premiere of Snowpiercer in Seoul, and spoke with its director after the film. He learnt that Weinstein wants the twenty minutes of cuts to come from character development, effectively turning a dark, sci-fi thriller into a simple action film. What is even worse, is that he wants to add voiceovers at the beginning and end of the film, clearly to make things easier to understand!
This is total madness, and surely Weinstein understands the sort of audience that will be watching this film, and said audience do not need everything spelled out for them. This is total, utter madness, but there just might be a light at the end of the tunnel, for some of us anyway.
Sadly the US will almost definitely be getting the cut version, and will have to wait for a directors cut to be released on DVD & Blu-ray. Rayns said that here in the UK the proposed cuts will be protested, and hopefully will not happen. He hopes that Australia will do the same.
Snowpiercer is written and directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Memories of Murder)
The cast includes Song Kang-ho, Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Alison Pill, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Ewen Bremner, Octavia Spencer and Luke Pasqualino. Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Thirst, Stoker) produces.
It’s been announced that the film is due to open on 1st August 2013 in South Korea, but no UK or US release date has been announced yet.
Snowpiercer is set in a future where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews.