Don Verdean is a man of faith who has devoted his life to biblical archaeology, scouring the globe in search of artifacts that back up the teachings of Jesus Christ. Now, traveling from town to town, he and his devoted assistant, Carol, spread the gospel by peddling books and DVDs out of his shabby RV while his Holy Land contacts, Boaz and Shem, do the digging from afar. When evangelical preacher Tony Lazarus offers to bankroll Don’s modest roadside operation, the escalating pressure to find increasingly significant relics leads Don and his team down a less-than-righteous path. With more than just the word of God on the line, Don finds himself in the midst of a spiteful feud between two opposing congregations, leaving him to question what is truly important in life. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Film Festival]
When Bong Joon-ho first opened Jean-Marc Rochette’s comic ‘Snowpiercer’ in a Seoul bookshop, he supposedly devoured all three volumes on the spot. Eight years later, the French comic has been made into the most lavish Korean film of all time, a parable on the final days of humankind. Seolguk-yeolcha describes an impending ice age caused by human hand, whose last survivors are left circling the earth in a nonstop express train. The rich are in the front carriages and the poor – from whose perspective the story is told – at the back.
If you walk along a moving train from back to front, you end up travelling faster than the train itself relative to the Earth. This is the dynamic force upon which Bong’s film thrives: there’s only one direction in which this revolt can go and it’ll be doomed to failure if its speed doesn’t exceed the reaction. With its impressive cast, breath-taking artificial landscapes, fantastic make-up, over-the-top décor, fresh, witty dialogue and a healthy portion of humour, Bong Joon-ho gives back to cinema what the Lumière brothers themselves already used to impress their audiences: the sheer force of the machine. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]