Good news for fans of auteur theory: According to Bong Joon-Ho, the director of Snowpiercer, his original cut of the film tested better for American audiences than producer Harvey Weinstein’s edit, with 20 minutes missing, did. That kind of ruins Weinstein’s argument that American audiences just wouldn’t get the film without his giving it a good butchering first, but unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like anything is resolved.
According to Bong Joon-Ho, Weinstein still thinks American attention spans wouldn’t endure the full version. “They want a more speedy tempo,” he says. “They think of ‘Snowpiercer’ as an R-rated movie, so the violence and those kinds of matters are not a big issue. But it’s all a matter of duration, speed and tempo.”
We’ve covered the back and forth on Weinstein’s edits a few times now (don’t get lost in the rabbit hole of clicking on all those links) and if Weinstein used the barometer of public opinion to make a final decision on the cuts it certainly seems like he would have thrown in the towel by now. Still, an egomaniacal producer wanting to put his personal touch on a film is a tale as old as Hollywood itself, so it’s not a terrible surprise that he doesn’t seem to have budged yet.
It does sound like Bong Joon-Ho is at least having some say in the process, though. In an interview on the subject, he said:
So we already have one fixed American version with 20 minutes cut out but that’s not the final version, we are still going through the process. I’m not that kind of young, innocent film school student who is saying ‘Nobody can touch my movie!!’ I’m not like that, I can negotiate, but I really hope to protect and keep my vision. The unique tone and mood of the movie and I don’t want to destroy the details of the characters. So it’s still going on.
In other words, the negotiations aren’t over yet. Let’s hope that the final U.S. release of Snowpiercer ends up respecting Bong Joon-Ho’s original vision, and also respecting the intelligence of American moviegoers.