By now, we’ve covered the battle between Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-Ho and producer Harvey Weinstein over the U.S. release of the movie quite extensively. The fight has struck a chord with movie fans not only because Bong Joon-Ho is an accomplished director with a track record of putting out excellent films without Hollywood’s interference, but also because it seems like a textbook example of Hollywood dumbing down films for American audiences who are maybe a little bit tired of having their intelligence underestimated.
And of course, “Hollywood” in this case is a stand-in for Harvey Weinstein in particular and the rest of The Weinstein Co. Weinstein has a reputation for ruthlessly cutting movies, earning himself the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands,” so his wish to do so with Snowpiercer is not particularly surprising. What is surprising is the lengths to which he’s going to make sure that his vision for the film is the one that English-speaking audiences end up seeing.
In particular, it appears that The Weinstein Co. has kept Snowpiercer off the festival circuit, where it could have earned the sort accolades and attention that would certainly help get the word out there about the film and boost its attendance in theaters. The only festival at which the film will be playing in the near future is the Berlin Film Festival, which will be showing Bong Joon-Ho’s original cut despite The Weinstein Co.’s wishes.
All in all, it seems like the only publicity the Weinsteins want for Snowpiercer at the moment is bad publicity, because without that festival buzz we’re left to continue discussing the attempts to butcher the film. There is one interesting note on Weinstein’s edit, though, which is that in addition to trimming 25 minutes off its running time he wanted to insert a voiceover written by Sandman author Neil Gaiman. Whether or not that ends up happening is up in the air, and a voiceover certainly wouldn’t help the notion that the film is being dumbed down, but Gaiman’s involvement would at least be more promising than the voiceover being written by someone less skilled.
With a legal kerfuffle over the U.S. release going on between The Weinstein Co. and Korean distributor CJ Entertainment, it’s unknown at this point when Snowpiercer will finally make it to U.S. shores for eagerly-awaiting fans of Bong Joon-Ho’s work. Until that happens, maybe tide yourselves over by watching some of his earlier films such as The Host or Mother. If you haven’t seen them yet, it will help you understand what all the fuss is about.