"Class Struggles and Survival: Comparing Snowpiercer Across Different Mediums

16 July 2023
The Snowpiercer television show, starring Jennifer Connelly, takes the post-apocalyptic setting of the train and expands on the narrative with its own unique storylines and character dynamics. It explores the lives of the lower-class passengers in the tail section and their struggles against the oppressive ruling class. The show delves into themes of power, justice, and the consequences of social inequality.

Le Transperceneige, the French graphic novel series, introduces readers to the original source material of Snowpiercer. The novels, consisting of three volumes, provide a gritty and visually stunning portrayal of the train and its passengers. Through its graphic illustrations and immersive storytelling, the graphic novel series delves into the dark realities of life aboard the train, emphasizing the stark divide between the classes and the sacrifices made for survival.

jennifer connelly snowpiercer
Jennifer Connelly as Melanie Cavill.
Snowpiercer, the film directed by Bong Joon-ho, gained international recognition for its visually striking cinematography and compelling narrative. Starring Chris Evans as Curtis Everett, the film follows the lower-class passengers as they stage a revolt against the oppressive elite. The film maintains the gritty atmosphere and thought-provoking themes present in the graphic novel while adding its own visual and narrative flair.

The thesis statement of this essay is to explore the similarities between the television show version of Snowpiercer, the French graphic novel series Le Transperceneige, and the film adaptation directed by Bong Joon-ho. By examining these different mediums, we can gain insights into the shared themes, characters, and social commentaries that make Snowpiercer a captivating and impactful franchise.

Background Information

Snowpiercer is set in a future where a failed climate change experiment has plunged the world into a new ice age. The remnants of humanity survive aboard the Snowpiercer, a colossal train that endlessly circles the globe. In the television show, the audience is introduced to the struggles of characters like Layton Well, a former detective from the tail section who becomes a key figure in the revolution, and Melanie Cavill, the mysterious voice of the train's announcements who harbors secrets of her own.

The original graphic novel and film explore themes of class struggle, social inequality, environmentalism, and the human condition. In the graphic novel, readers witness the harsh living conditions in the tail section and the brutal treatment of the lower-class passengers. The film adaptation brings these themes to life with powerful performances, such as Tilda Swinton's portrayal of Minister Mason, a cruel and eccentric representative of the ruling class.

Key characters in the Snowpiercer franchise undergo similar journeys across the different mediums. Curtis Everett, the determined leader of the revolt, is driven by a desire for justice and equality in all versions. Wilford, the enigmatic creator and ruler of the train, serves as a symbol of power and control. In the television show, the characters of Ruth Wardell, played by Alison Wright, and LJ Folger, played by Annalise Basso, provide additional layers to the narrative with their complex roles in the social hierarchy.

Similarities in Storyline and Setting

The central premise of a post-apocalyptic world on a perpetually moving train is a shared element in all three versions of Snowpiercer. The television show, graphic novel, and film emphasize the confinement and isolation of the train as the last refuge for humanity. The train itself becomes a character, representing the fragile ecosystem of society and the challenges faced by its inhabitants.

Class divisions and social hierarchy are prevalent in all three versions, highlighting the stark contrast between the front and tail sections of the train. The opulence and decadence of the ruling class are depicted through luxurious settings and extravagant costumes, while the tail section is characterized by its dilapidated conditions and desperate struggle for survival. These class divisions fuel tension and conflict, ultimately leading to rebellion.

The challenges faced by the characters in their respective struggles for survival are universal across the adaptations. They encounter physical obstacles such as armed guards, locked doors, and treacherous environmental conditions. Psychological dilemmas arise as characters grapple with the moral implications of their actions and the choices they make in the pursuit of justice and freedom.

chris evans john hurt snowpiercer

Character Portrayals

The portrayal of key characters in the television show, graphic novel, and film remains consistent in their core characteristics. Andre Layton portrayed by Daveed Diggs in the television show, exhibits determination, intelligence, and charisma in all adaptations. His journey from a resident of the tail section to a revolutionary leader is depicted with varying nuances, highlighting his internal struggles and growth.

Character development and motivations are central to the Snowpiercer franchise. The graphic novel series allows for more extensive exploration of the characters' backstories and inner conflicts. For example, in the graphic novel, Namgoong Minsu, a security specialist from the tail section, is driven by his addiction to the industrial waste used as a drug. In the film, his motivations are tied to his daughter Yona's survival and his desire to escape the train.

The performances of the actors, including Jennifer Connelly, Chris Evans, and Tilda Swinton, contribute to the nuanced and compelling portrayal of the characters in the adaptations. Their talents bring depth, emotion, and complexity to the characters, making them relatable and memorable to the audience.

Themes and Symbolism

Recurring themes such as class struggle, environmentalism, and humanity's capacity for cruelty are central to the Snowpiercer franchise in all its mediums. The television show, graphic novel, and film delve into these themes with their own unique approaches, offering different perspectives and interpretations.

In all versions, class struggle is a prominent theme. The stark divide between the ruling class and the oppressed masses serves as a commentary on social inequality and the abuse of power. Environmentalism is another significant theme explored in the franchise. The reliance on a perpetual motion engine and the consequences of climate change are integral to the survival of the train and its passengers.

Symbolism and metaphors play a crucial role in the television show, graphic novel, and film. The train itself serves as a metaphor for society, with each section representing a different social class and the struggle for power and resources. Visual motifs, such as the recurring use of darkness and light, reflect the dichotomy between hope and despair, revealing the complexities of the human condition.

Adaptation Choices and Departures

The television show and film adaptation of Snowpiercer make certain changes from the source material to suit the medium and enhance the storytelling experience. In the television show, new characters and subplots are introduced to further explore the complexities of the train's society. This includes the character of LJ Folger, whose role contributes to the examination of the privileged class and their sense of entitlement.

Creative liberties taken by the show's creators and director result in departures from the original material. These choices allow for fresh interpretations and perspectives on the Snowpiercer universe. For example, the television show expands on the role of Melanie Cavill, portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, and delves into her backstory, adding depth to her character and exploring her motivations.

The impact of these changes on the overall narrative and audience reception varies. Some viewers appreciate the expanded world-building and character development in the television show, while others may prefer the concise and visually impactful storytelling of the film. These changes contribute to the evolution of the Snowpiercer franchise, allowing it to be experienced and appreciated in different ways.

snowpiercer train

Critical Reception and Cultural Impact of Snowpiercer

The critical reception of the television show, graphic novel, and film provides insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each adaptation. The television show has been praised for its complex storytelling, rich character development, and its ability to delve into relevant social issues. The film adaptation has been celebrated for its visual prowess, thought-provoking themes, and compelling performances. The graphic novel series has gained recognition for its immersive illustrations, captivating narrative, and its influence on subsequent adaptations.

Snowpiercer has made a significant cultural impact in all its forms. It has garnered a dedicated fanbase that engages in discussions about the social commentary, ethical dilemmas, and moral complexities presented in the franchise. The Snowpiercer universe has inspired fan theories, fan art, and fan fiction, further enriching the cultural impact and the ongoing legacy of the franchise.


In conclusion, the television show, French graphic novel, and film adaptation of Snowpiercer share numerous similarities in their storyline, themes, and character portrayals. They explore the complex dynamics of a post-apocalyptic world confined to a perpetually moving train. The franchise's enduring appeal and relevance lie in its examination of class struggle, social inequality, environmentalism, and the human condition.

Snowpiercer's significance as a multi-media franchise is evident in its ability to captivate and engage audiences across different mediums. The adaptations offer unique perspectives and interpretations while maintaining the core essence of the original source material. The lasting appeal of Snowpiercer rests in its ability to provoke thought, spark discussions, and shed light on the pressing issues of our own society.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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