Snow piercer and the Antihero

Bong Joon Ho’s 2013 Snowpiercer is a film about morals. Grey areas and questionable motives fill the film. In fact, some people would even argue the film does not have a ‘good guy.’ This poses an interesting question; how can a film, especially an action film, function without a good guy?

During an AMA on Reddit, Bong Joon Ho was asked about comedy making its way into his films with a serious tone. He answered,

“I think that in life, comedy and drama and terrifying moments are all mixed together, don’t you agree? That’s how life is, so it’s not like I deliberately or consciously calculates these types of contrasts, it happens naturally.”

In reality, there are not simply good guys and bad guys. Everyone on Earth has their own merits and their own flaws. Bong Joon Ho can see that fact, and perhaps his perspective on life explains why there is no clearly defined good guy in Snowpiercer.

So if Snowpiercer does not have a good guy, then who is the audience supposed to root for? The answer is the protagonist, Curtis. Chris Evans plays a convincing post-conventional antihero in the film. An antihero is a character who does the wrong things for the right reasons. When Curtis fights and kills, he kills for the good of everyone in the back of the train. And, in the climax of the film, he sacrifices his arm to save Timmy, and seconds later sacrifices his life.

Curtis is a morally questionable character, but that does not stop the audience from relating to him. Everyone has their own personal struggles and regrets to fight against in life. Is it possibly easier to connect to Curtis as compared to other action heroes? And in the most recent film in the class, Magnolia, did you find yourself sympathizing with the characters despite their awful pasts?

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