The director behind the original Snowpiercer (the Chris Evans movie, not the upcoming 2020 series) admitted to having so many creative clashes with now-infamous producer Harvey Weinstein that he resorted to complete lies in order to avoid certain cuts. According to director Bong Joon-ho, the Hollywood mogul needed a very personal excuse to keep a bizarre scene involving a fish being gutted on-screen.
Based on a French graphic novel from the 1980s, Snowpiercer follows the survivors of a climate apocalypse that has frozen the Earth who band together aboard the massive, titular train. As Snowpiercer circles the globe indefinitely, the lower-class population at the back of the train start a revolution, led by Evans' character, against the elites living in luxury at the front. Gritty, atmospheric, and claustrophobic, Snowpiercer - and Bong, its director - received high critical praise when it released in 2013. Whether it would have been viewed the same under Weinstein's vision, though, is a different question.
As Bong tells Vulture in a recent interview, "Harvey Scissorhands" (as he was known) "took such pride in his edit of the film." The two men butted heads constantly, and compromise was seemingly out of the question. According to Vulture, Weinstein demanded certain changes of Bong, including cutting 25 minutes, adding more action and more of Evans. In particular, Bong notes a request from Weinstein that 25 minutes of dialog be removed, an edit the Korean filmmaker noted would have made the final film "incoherent."
But "the fish bit" is where Bong chose to draw the line. When Weinstein expressed his hatred of the scene, in which a character guts a fish to intimidate the other passengers, Bong simply blurted out the first thing he could think of. "I said, 'Harvey, this shot means something to me. My father was a fisherman.’" Weinstein relented, saying, "Family is the most important. You have the shot.” But, Bong explained, “It was a fucking lie. My father was not a fisherman.”
Given what we know now about Weinstein's domineering, controlling personality, it's hardly surprising that the independent Bong came into conflict with him. The product we got in the end, though, is agreed by most audiences to be worth the battle. Snowpiercer is something of a beautiful oddity in the cramped post-apocalypse genre - a film with a very stylized, almost Indie touch from its director, yet possessing blockbuster appeal from its budget and star power. What's more, it's a movie focusing on a class revolution led by none other than Captain America himself - an intersection of politics and pop culture that seems deeply relevant in 2019. Maybe that's why the Snowpiercer TV adaptation, starring Jennifer Connelly and set to premiere next year, is on so many people's radar.