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Aldo Juarez

Professor Prior

Sociology 1

19 May 2017

Snowpiercer Sociological Analysis

I have chosen the movie Snowpiercer directed by Bong Joon-ho for my video/DVD

project. The movie takes place in a dystopian future where life came to an end on Earth

everywhere except in a Supertrain that travels around the globe. There was an ice age due to

scientists creating an experiment to try and counteract the effects of global warming but instead

provided the end of life. The train continued with society and kept social classes in their beliefs.

For instance, the lower-class class stayed all the way in the back of the train in small confined

areas while the rich feasted in the front of the train every day. The lower-class were fed Protein

Blocks which were made of insects. As time went by, the main character Curtis (Chris Evans)

planned a revolution with a coalition of another man named Gillian and consisted of all the

lower-class people. Their plan was to move up the train, kill the leader, and change the way

society runs. Curtis wants equality since all the inequality has caused the people he knows to

suffer and at times die. Since Curtis knows that there is no peaceful way in getting what his

people want, he resorts to violence by fighting and killing soldiers or anyone who tries to stop his


After viewing the film, I analyzed it using the sociological perspectives from three very

important sociologists whose names are Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx.

Starting off with Auguste Comte who is considered the father of sociology, I believe he would
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start analyzing the film by looking for key symbols. He would use his Law of Three Stages,

identify key players in the revolution, as well as figure what the train symbolizes in the new

society. He would then figure how the train is a symbol of a new world with a new order. He

would start his focus on Gilliam because he was the one who inspired Curtis to plan the

revolution. He inspired spiritualism into Curtis so that he would fulfill the riot that was

inevitable. He would notice how there was daily contact between Gilliam and Curtis and how

they used food to symbolize the train. After learning how Gilliam inspired Curtis, he would

move on to analyze Curtis and his behavior. Curtis had been living in the back of the train for 17

years. During those years, Curtis has resorted to cannibalism at one point and has been forced to

see the poor executed just so that the train population got reduced. Comte would notice how

Curtis has gone through resocialization but has grown tired of living in poverty along with the

rest in his section of the train. For society in the train to continue functioning, the society must

reach the last stage of the three laws which is The Positive Stage. In the positive stage, Comte

believes that social reorganization must happen in order to terminate any crisis. This would

happen if either Curtis accepted living his life in the back of the train or social change was made

to keep peace at last.

If Emile Durkheim were to analyze this film, he would use the functionalist approach. He

would focus on the macro scale of society and would identify how the train is the body, how

Wilford (the creator of the train) is the heart and brain, and how people inside are the functioning

organs. He would talk about how one without the other would cause society to fail as a whole.

For instance, if Wilford died, no one would know how to keep the train functioning, so everyone

would die as soon as the train stopped. Vice versa, if the lower-class of the train stopped working

or providing for the upper-classes, they would eventually die off as well since they are not suited
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to work. Each person is obliged to contribute and perform their assigned functions to maintain a

stable society in a world with new norms. He then would also analyze peoples beliefs and

lifestyle from each section of the train to predict how their thoughts and emotions can continue

complying with the whole system, or lead to an instability. After analyzing peoples beliefs,

Durkheim would be able to notice that the trains society as a whole, is an outgroup. Since not

everyone on the train is equal, the lower-class feels like they dont belong, therefore find it hard

to continue living in their conditions. In the end, Durkheim would notice how the lower-class has

rising plans of a revolution, predicting the fall of the train society because cooperation would not

be possible.

Lastly, Karl Marx would also view the train society at the macro level using the conflict

perspective. He would identify the social classes in the train as the back being lower-class and

the front being upper-class. He would notice how the upper-classs life consists of parties every

day as well as using hallucinogenic drugs for pleasure. Looking at how society runs in the train,

he would then explain that the rich upper-class imposes harsh conditions and sanctions to the

lower-class to continue their reign. An example of the harsh conditions is how the lower-class is

only fed enough to keep them alive. The upper-class also uses mass murder to keep the

population in control. Taking into consideration these factors, Marx would imply how tension

and struggles between the classes would only lead to a revolution. Marx would then agree with

Curtis and his revolution because Marx believes that a revolution is necessary to bring down

those in power. He would classify the train society as a dysfunctional society and state how

chaos was needed to bring down the old order and input a new society with equality.

The paradigm most represented in the film I chose is without a doubt the conflict

paradigm. Since Earth is not habitable anymore, the living survivors were forced through
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resocialization and to adjust living on a train with a secondary group. Their previous lives and

identities changed because they were forced into social classes without having a say. That said,

since the lower-class was forced to suffer every day, their belief was that the only way to not be

suppressed anymore is to cause conflict and chaos. That would lead to new order while

integrating their beliefs of having life their way. Most of their beliefs relate to Marxs views on

how the economic conflict between social classes causes supersession of the lower-classes. It can

be seen since the beginning of the movie, where severe inequality between the three classes takes

place. Everything done by the upper-class is to ensure that they gain all the benefit and stay in

power for as long as the train is running. Only the middle-class and upper-class children can go

to school and are fed nutritious meals whereas the lower-class people are fed the protein bars and

forced to work. This eventually leads to a revolution by the lower-class in order to re-establish a

new order with equal opportunities for everyone. Without the revolution, the struggles between

the classes would continue to exist.