The Lighting of Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer has the unique opportunity to throw the audience into multiple environments as the director pleases. The first quarter of the movie is shot in the tail of the train, where everything is dark, dingy, and grimy, but once we exit that car, the rest of the train is random and encompasses a variety of atmospheres. We venture to a lounge, aquarium, restaurant, pool, sauna, classroom, and party room. (I won’t even touch the fact that one would have to travel through A: a sauna, or B: a meat locker in order to even reach the classroom.) Each car we travel into has its own unique atmosphere, and most only have a brief moment to set their tone before we move on. Because of this, lighting and sound play a huge part in setting the atmosphere throughout the film.

As I mentioned, the tail of the train is consistently portrayed in a dark light, with all the colors being grey and black. The first time we see true colors are in the greenhouse car. Lighting plays another important role in the sauna room. The low yellow glow of the whole scene adds tension and mystery as our protagonist and his party are hunted. Another memorable moment highlighted by lighting is when we enter the engine room with Wilfred. His room is, arguably, the brightest car in the whole train. The engine glows bright blue behind him the entire time, and the walls and floor are covered in lights. The director uses lighting to portray social status throughout the train. With the exception of the sauna, which utilized lighting for a specific tone, the brightness of the cars increases as we move towards the climactic engine room.

How is sound used throughout the film to set tone? Are there notable, repeated camera tactics that are used to achieve a similar effect?


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