Snowpiercer opened in South Korea earlier this month to rave reviews and box-office breaking sales. But the 126 minute film, based on popular bande dessinée Le Transperceneige and starring Chris Evans, is to be cut by a whopping 20 minutes for the eventual English language release – removing the intelligence and leaving a simplified action film in its wake.

snowpiercer_swinton_evansI’ve talked at length before here on The Beat about both Snowpiercer and Le Transperceneige, as it really looked set to the be surprise hit of the year. A dystopian future tale, set upon a perpetually circuiting train that houses the remnants of the human race, where class tensions arise and revolution is in the air.

The original comic, by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, is utterly incredible although sadly an English-translated edition is not yet available. In a market often slow to recognise the wonderful works in the European market, this perhaps explains why a film starring Captain America, Tilda Swinton and John Hurt flew under many radars.

The distribution rights for North America, UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were picked up a while back by The Weinstein Company. Harvey Weinstein of course is also known as “Harvey Scissorhands” for his penchant for slicing international films to bits in order to remove complexities that he thinks Americans just can’t handle. Snowpiercer is merely the latest victim, despite gathering very positive reviews and doing well in South Korea.

The film, a Korean-American-French collaboration directed by Joon-ho Bong, is being released in Denmark at the end of August and in France at the end of October in uncut form.


The idea that such a film needs to be dumbed down for English speaking fans is rather bizarre, with Weinstein reportedly asking for ” introductory and closing voice-overs to be added in“. As film critic and programmer Tony Rayns says, “TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa … and Oklahoma.'” Rayns also says that the UK is protesting the cuts and hopes other countries follow suit.

The cuts remove a lot of the character work in order to make the film play like a more traditional action movie, with voiceovers at beginning and end to club viewers over the head with plot explanations.

Chris Evans was careful to remain diplomatic, telling Collider:

“I’ve heard that he’s looking to cut some things down and, you know, it’s tricky… This is the tricky part about making movies.  There’s usually a method to Harvey’s madness.  I just got back from Korea so I wanna go in and see—I’ve gotta see a lot of things and I’d love to have a discussion with him.  It’s one of those things that’s just tricky.”

Would be fans such as myself are left with a difficult conundrum. The film deserves to do well as both the rave reviews and original bande dessinée show. But English-speaking viewers won’t get the chance to see the true film until a director’s cut is hopefully released on dvd and blu-ray. But avoiding it at the cinema will not help the original film either, yet supporting it might give the impression that the cuts were right to make…

So in conclusion, I shall begin my protest. To my warrior keyboard!


Remember to watch the trailer. Oh and go on then, have some more new images:



  1. WOW….Big Harv really doesn’t think much of the intelligence of the everyday middle American…and it’s that coastal elitist attitude from higher ups in all of the major studios is why we constantly get shit like GROWN UPS 2 and SMURFS 2 instead of something truly great, thought out and compelling….we be just to stupid to keep ups with edjumacated folks like Mr. Harvey and his fancy smart people movies.

    I guess I will just skip this movie and get a second shift at my $2.50 an hour job cleaning the gum off the sidewalk at my local IHOP.

    (TRANSLATION: Fuck that fat pig and his bullshit cut of an apparently great film)

  2. I can imagine how big business is doing the ‘tricky’ thing (as Evans calls it) in making sure mainstream audiences will pay to see foreign ideas. Even Shakeapeare had to pander to the crowd, throwing in the odd slapstick episode here and there,
    I would be okay with this if the DVD would contain the uncut version for those who can tolerate that sort of thing.

  3. If it makes you feel any better, assuming this movie lives up to the article’s hype, there’s plenty of people on the net that would add said 20 minutes back in to a cut they edited themselves for extra-legal distribution.

  4. I think it’s a lot more likely he’s cutting the movie to double dip on Blu-Ray “Director’s Cut” sales then anything else.

  5. More showings per screen, more money to be made. I guess I’ll wait on this and Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster, which also got about 20 minutes of cuts.

  6. Then audiences always could try to smart up and not make every Adam Sandler movie a hit, or for that matter, every superherie film a “dumbuster”.

  7. Yeah, this sucks, but make this into a movie that will sell the most tickets and that’ll introduce more people to the comic.
    Especially when they hear that the comic was way better.

    I’m sure the From Hell movie helped move a lot of comics. You never actually hear Moore specifically complain about From Hell. Or League for that matter.

  8. I’ll buy a Korean blu-ray when it comes out. I don’t even want to support Weinstein the Ripper by buying his “director’s cut” disc when it comes out…

  9. Then audiences always could try to smart up and not make every Adam Sandler movie a hit, or for that matter, every superherie film a “dumbuster”.

    I know everyone in the comics/film/game fandom scene likes to get high and mighty about the common man’s film choices, but take a minute to think about it. Movies are expensive, especially for families, and primarily designed to be entertainment. So forgive people for choosing light-hearted fare for two hours instead of some indie director showing miserable characters’ miserable lives.

  10. [At least they didnt do the most common “dumbing down” thing wich is a remake.] Followed by… [Then audiences always could try to smart up and not make every Adam Sandler movie a hit, or for that matter, every superherie film a “dumbuster”.] Hmmm… poorly written retorts like this only gives the Weinstein Company’s position credence. Spellcheck people, spellcheck.

  11. It is indeed sad. I don’t like it. However, Hollywood always counts the money at the end of the day. And I have to admit, the geek / nerd / Internet fans have not come out to support the critically acclaimed darling films like Hollywood would expects. It takes more than a dedicated-shouting-rabid-Hall H crowd to turn a film into a success (by Hollywood’s standards). It’s no wonder when they strip good films down to the lower hanging fruit.

  12. It’s especially silly I think given that a lot of the film is in English (so subtitled for other countries). Every country is going to have subtitles for some bits, but I believe the majority is actually in English. Bah.

    And yes, I’m surprised no publisher leapt at the chance to bring out an English translation of Le transperceneige :/

  13. Shorter run time = more showings; more showings = more money; more money = break even/profit; break even/profit = more films

    This is common with ol’ Harvey. It’s why he’s still in buisness – he’s shrewd. The only person, I can think of, whose films he lets run long is Quentin Tarantino.

    does anybody remember what he did to Rumble in the Bronx? He murdered Shaolin Soccer.

  14. “I think it’s a lot more likely he’s cutting the movie to double dip on Blu-Ray “Director’s Cut” sales then anything else.”

    That’s the weird thing. Weinstein doesn’t do a lot of double-dipping. He will on the Tarantino titles, but even those titles have fewer releases than, say, RESIDENT EVIL or THE PRINCESS BRIDE.
    When TWC releases a title on DVD/BR, you won’t see another release soon if ever.
    So, yeah, this is REALLY sleazy.

  15. Harvey Weinstein has a long history or reediting — and usually shortening — the films he distributes, especially if they’re foreign films. In the case of Cinema Paradiso, it turned a flop into a hit. Other times it hasn’t been so successful. Peter Biskind’s book, “Down and Dirty Pictures,” has a lot about this.

    Let’s wait and see the picture before we declare it to be “dumbed down.”

  16. Let’s wait and see the picture before we declare it to be “dumbed down.”

    “TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa … and Oklahoma.'”

    I don’t really think there’s any other way of interpreting that honestly, especially given the cutting of character development and addition of voiceovers to explain plot in a film that was already mostly in English. Add the rave reviews the film has garnered thus far from all over the globe, and it’s not a great piece of news.

  17. With all this talk of Ben Affleck, where is Bartlby and Loki when you need them? For all the so called liberal Hollywood complaining about the dumbing down of America, they sure are complacent with it. With supposedly intelectual liberals like this, who needs conservative idiots?. Asshats lke big bad Harv are dragging this country into the mental crapper.

  18. jacob lyon goddard :
    How many of the people who watch this movie will know it is based on a comic book? Out of those how many of those will care enough to check out the comic? That is not to mention the fact that the comic is apparently not available in english.

    It is much much easier to make a good movie, than hoping people will check out the original material after seeing a mediocre film.

  19. The short trailer has already been released wildly in France theaters since the beginning of August.
    Surpringly, it doesn’t mention anywhere Chris Evans, Tilda Switon or John Hurt, probably to not disturb french fans of Korean movies.

  20. I know it may not be cool to say this, and I have not read the graphic novel, but Snowpiercer is an absolutely idiotic name regardless of what it is attached to.

  21. They are gutting it because the movie SUCKS. We saw it at a screening and it was laughable bad. There is ZERO in this movie that even a retarded child would have a hard time understanding. Tilda’s character is AWFUL. The core of the story is implausible. The rest of it just poor people in the back fight their way to the front. Lead by Chris Evans. Only for a non-shocking reveal once you get to the engine car.

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