Netflix’s Snowpiercer: everything you need to know about Bong Joon Ho’s dystopian TV series

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This Netflix show has been a long time in the making, with Tomorrow Studios first acquiring the rights back in 2015. Here’s what you need to know…

Updated on 19 May 2020: Netflix has been working hard to keep us entertained during the coronavirus lockdown. Very hard. Extraordinarily hard, actually, when you consider the fact the streaming platform has served up some of 2020’s most talked-about TV shows (Unorthodox and Tiger King, for example) over the past few weeks alone.

Thankfully, it seems Netflix has no intention of stopping this steady stream of content any time soon. Later this month, White Lines – already being hailed as the hit of the summer – will be dropping. And, on top of that, we have an extra-special treat from Bong Joon Ho.

As movie buffs will no doubt recall, Bong won big at the Oscars with Parasite – a well-deserved success which prompted film fans worldwide to check out all the other films in his back catalog. 

Among them, of course, is dystopian thriller, Snowpiercer

That’s right: Bong has teamed forces with Netflix to transform his 2013 smash-hit into a spine-tingling TV series. And the trailer, which dropped this week, looks absolutely phenomenal.

Check it out:

“Seven years ago, the world ended,” says main character Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs), as we see shots of a huge train rushing through a desolate wasteland. “Now the train is all that’s left.”

Painting a grim picture of how the apocalypse came about, he continues: “First, the weather changed. In the final days of the freeze, the rich retreated to an ark. This is Snowpiercer. 

“This how we survive. There are those who have, and those who suffer.”

And those who have, judging by Jennifer Connelly’s big speech about restoring order, are keen to make those who do not have suffer even more than they already do.

As reported on 13 May 2020: With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about the new Netflix drama.

What’s the plot of Netflix’s Snowpiercer?

As mentioned, the show is set seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland. All remaining life lives aboard the massive Snowpiercer.

Stretching 1,001 cars long, the super-train circles the globe on an endless, furious loop. Inside, the remnants of humanity have been divided into classes: the rich elites are upfront, while the impoverished “tailies” seethe in the back.

What will happen, though, when those who have been subjected to oppression their entire lives decide to resist, rise up, and revolt? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.

“Class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival are questioned in this riveting television adaptation,” promises Netflix’s press release.

Is there a trailer for Netflix’s Snowpiercer?

Other than the trailer you’ve already seen, you mean? Yes, of course: the original teaser trailer begins with Diggs’ Andre Layton, and Connelly’s Melanie Cavill speaking in unison.

“It’s been 2,805 days since departure,” they explain. “It’s -119 degree Celsius outside.”

It’s at this point, though, that their messaging becomes very different. Melanie, you see, is a member of the elite. Andre is a tail-end passenger. Their experiences aboard Snowpiercer, then, are very different.

“This is where we live,” she says. “Life isn’t always easy aboard Snowpiercer. It may not be fair. But it’s all we’ve got.”

Andre, meanwhile, explains: “This is how we survive. Life has never been easy aboard Snowpiercer. It’s not right. But it’s all we’ve got.”

Check it out:

Who makes up the cast of Netflix’s Snowpiercer?

As well as Connelly and Diggs, the series also stars Alison Wright (The Accountant), Mickey Sumner (American Made), Katie McGuinness (Dirty Filthy Love), Susan Park (Ghostbusters), Lena Hall (All My Children), Annalise Basso (Bedtime Stories), Sam Otto (Jellyfish), Sheila Vand (Argo), Roberto Urbina (Narcos), and Sasha Frolova (The Interestings).

What has Jennifer Connelly said about her role in Netflix’s Snowpiercer?

“[The show] is talking about limited resources and social injustices and hierarchies and power and wealth,” Connelly recently told Empire

“I thought that it was a really great platform to talk about some relevant issues in a way that is, I think, still entertaining and fun. It’s really exciting.”

Why did the original Snowpiercer film spark controversy?

The 2013 Korean-English film of the same name, which starred Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, sparked controversy in the film industry when Harvey Weinstein – whose company owned the US distribution rights – ordered Bong to cut 20 minutes from the film and heavily rewrite it. 

The director refused, leading The Weinstein Company to screen it in only eight cinemas. And, sure, a director’s cut was released in 2014, but there’s a reason Bong and his team (Park Chan-wook, Lee Tae-hun and Dooho Choi) are working as executive producers on this star-studded TV adaptation.

And the Netflix show?

Well, it’s complicated. TNT first acquired the rights in 2015 and attached Josh Friedman as the scriptwriter. However, in 2018, it was announced that Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson would be replacing Friedman as showrunner. 

Rewrites on the pilot begin shortly afterward, prompting Friedman to tweet that he was “removed” from Snowpiercer for not being “compliant.”

You can find out more about the show’s wild five-year journey to release here.

A still from futuristic action thriller Snowpiercer
Best new TV this week: Snowpiercer on Netflix

How many episodes are there in Netflix’s Snowpiercer?

It’s not exactly a mini-series, but it won’t take up too many hours of your weekend if you intend to binge-watch: there are just 10 episodes.

When will Snowpiercer be available to stream on Netflix?

The show is airing in the United States,on American network TNT from 17 May.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to move across the pond to see it: the show will be added to Netflix for fans in the UK and elsewhere in the world on Monday 25 May.

You can find out more about the show, as well as all the new TV and films coming to Netflix in May 2020, here.

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Images: Netflix

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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