I just finished watching Snowpiercer last night, and I have to say - it was a remarkable movie.
Today, I was so intrigued by the acting choices that Chris Evans made for one of the final monologues of the movie, that I looked it up on youtube to see if I could watch it without setting up Netflix. I was disappointed that I only found the tail end of the monologue, but I watched it regardless.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
In this monologue, Chris Evans’ character, Curtis, is finally at his breaking point. He’s managed to traverse the entire length of the train and is standing in front of the final gate to the engine. If he controls the engine, he controls the train, and everyone will be safe again. All of the people who travelled with him are now dead, except for two addicts who are assisting him with opening the gates.
Except now, they refuse to open the final gate for him, and he breaks down as he tells them exactly what it is he’s fighting for.
Throughout the movie, you see glimpses of Curtis’ persona and character arc that you wonder about, but don’t know more on. Curtis continually insists he’s not a leader, and doesn’t deserve to be. He makes comments such as “You can’t be a leader with two arms”, which at the time seems to be a reference to the upperclass forcing the lower class to have an arm frozen off and then knocked from their body any time there is the slightest bit of dissension amongst the ranks.
He tells his second in command, Edgar, that he shouldn’t follow him, and he eventually makes the decision to leave Edgar to die as he chases after the perceived figurehead of the upperclass instead.
You see him being physically disgusted by the fact that the protein blocks they’ve been given to eat are actually made out of bugs, and he insists that no one knows about this fact.
Curtis drives forwards with an intense ambition, desperate to get to the front of the train, and while the horrors are obvious in his current station, it hasn’t become truly clear why he’s reluctant to be the leader everyone insists he is.
Now, in this final monologue, his character crouches before the final gate, and he pleads with the one person who can open it for him. He asks the man if he’s ever been to the ‘tail’ of the train, after he’s called a derogatory term in reference to him living in the tail.
In these final few moments of this movie, Curtis goes on to describe a new kind of horror.
The people in the tail were never able to enjoy the feeling of safety and security from the iceage that they had boarded the train to avoid. As soon as the the train began to leave, they found that they were locked in an iron box, and had no food or space to survive.
Curtis continues in his chilling monologue, describing how in a month - they started to eat the weak. Then, while his addict companion listens in horror, he continues. “You know what I hate about myself?” Curtis asks, “I know what people taste like. I know that babies taste best.” He goes on to say that there was a woman who tried to hide her baby, and he killed her. He went to kill her child too, when an old man stepped in the way and asked Curtis for the knife. With the knife in hand, the old man cut off his own arm and gave it to Curtis, saying that if he’s so hungry he can eat that.
Then, slowly, everyone around him began to do the same. They cut off an arm, a leg, anything they could, and they started to survive. Curtis tried to do so, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t manage to saw through the bone on his arm, and only had a scar as proof of his failure.
Eventually the front of the train began to provide the protein (bug) blocks and the tail survived. The baby lived, and became Edgar. The Old Man helped Curtis with the mission, and he died earlier in the movie as their resistance was met with extreme force.
Curtis tells his companion that he needs to get to the front of the train, because for seventeen years he’s lived with that, and the man who put them all in that position to begin with is just beyond that gate. He needs to get through, and all of Curtis’ motivations that led up to that point have now been made thoroughly clear.
To me, Chris Evans truly showed the horror and guilt that that scene was meant to encapsulate. He was so thoroughly disgusted with himself, that he couldn’t manage to ever move passed those first few months on the train. He couldn’t manage to ever be more than the man who was so desperate to live that he chose to eat babies and slaughter their mothers just to taste them. He was a broken, distraught, twisted, man who was finally fraying to pieces.
When I went to watch this on youtube, I was once again floored by the complexity of this moment.
Then I read the comments below, and found that I was so disgusted with the viewing audience, that I probably should never read youtube comments again.
Almost every comment was laughing about how ridiculous the line “babies taste best” was, and how hilarious it was in the movie. They applauded themselves on laughing themselves silly while watching the film, and how it was so over the top.
To be perfectly frank, I had to wonder if we were even watching the same movie. There on screen was a man who was so emotionally devastated and at the end of his line, that he could only cry before a stranger and beg him for help. There was a man who in being pressured to be a leader, lost every person who he cared about and whose sole reason for still being alive had been killed only moments before. There was a man, who at seventeen was trapped in an iron box with people who were starving so much that they began to eat each other, and who was forced to live with that guilt after he realized the type of monster he became.
There was a man who from the beginning, knew that he was not redeemable, and constantly insisted that he shouldn’t be a leader because he was self aware enough to know that he had crossed lines that should never have been crossed.
The youtube audience mocked him viciously, complaining that he was horrified to discover he had eaten bugs when he’d been willing to eat children.
But what this audience failed to see, was the fact that Curtis’ horror came from the ever more obvious understanding that when the tail had been eating themselves in order to survive - the front had given them bugs to live off of. They had given them cockroaches to feed off of. That this was all they were worth in the eyes of the train that controlled their lives: human flesh and cockroaches.
They were treated like animals, because they behaved like animals, and Curtis was terrified in that moment that should they refuse to eat those blocks - they would return to being animals. He was already planning on marching to the front of the train and getting supplies to the back. No one did need to know that they advanced from eating human to eating cockroaches. They didn’t need to have that on them as well.
He was disgusted, because in his eyes - it was no better.
Frankly, I’m disappointed that there were so many viewers who laughed and mocked this poignant scene. It didn’t deserve people laughing about how “babies taste best”. The whole scene was devoted to how Curtis was so thoroughly disgusted with himself that he wanted everything to be over and for this train to be restored to order. He was literally losing his mind, and had just lost everything that was ever important to him.
Lazy viewers make me furious.