Mister Wilford Is Dead

I recently started to watch Snowpiercer on Netflix. I don’t know how I missed it so far, because it’s one of the most thought-provoking series I watched lately. Granted, sometimes the acting isn’t as great as the script, although Jennyfer Connelly does a great job, but even with those minor glitches I enjoy it a lot. I’m still in season one, probably episode 5 or 6.

The plot is simple, yet fascinating: climate change hit humanity hard, but not how you’d expected, and instead of oceans burning, now the world is completely frozen. Life on Earth basically stopped, or disappeared, and there is only one artifact still holding humans on it: a continuously moving, never stopping super-train, called Snowpiercer. Most of the passengers got tickets on this ark, and even helped it being built by its mythical inventor, mister Wilford. There is a very small number of people who just got on the train by forcing their way in, and they are now confined at the end of it, in the lasts of the 1001 cars long super train.

Every day, mister Wilford, through the voice of his main stewardess (Jennifer Connelly) gives encouragements, updates, and, overall, keeps the world moving forward.

Except mister Wilford is dead, as you soon find out even from episode two. His image is maintained by Jennifer Connelly and two engineers steering the train day and night. But for 7 years, the entire train is convinced there is a demi god called Wilford (some even perform cross-like signs, imitating the letter W, when they speak his name) that will eternally provide for them.

And this is where I’d like to stop, and take a different route. The plot of the movie thickens and I don’t want to give spoilers.

But I do want to talk about the “mister Wilford” myth.

I think we’re all living in some sort of a “mister Wilford” world, with authority figures lingering around, maintaining (or even enforcing) some level of order in the never ending chaos that surrounds us.

At the personal level, we still maintain images of people to whom we are strongly attached. Being them family, friends or former lovers. The ties that we formed during the interaction have solidified, and we carry around a frozen image, a snapshot of their existence. But that mental image is no longer linked to an actual being. Those persons evolved into something different. Their life changed and their likes and dislikes shifted as they aged. Their physical appearance melted into a completely different individual, most of the time.

At the social level, we are still maintaining a set of behavioral rules tied to authority figures. During the last decades, these authority figures evolved into organizations. Like mainstream media (“it’s on TV, it must be true”), governments (“it’s for your own good”) and other groups. In the early beginnings, there must have been something true presented on the TV, and some governments members did care about their constituents. But things changed. Those images are now just maintained at a mythical level, with somebody else doing something else behind those curtains, more often than not opposed to the initial mission of these organizations.

I don’t know how the actual plot unfolds in Snowpiercer (and don’t try to give me spoilers, as I will delete them without reading them).

But I do know that we must always ask ourselves who is that person that claims to talk to us. Does he or she talks in his or her name, or in someone else’s name?

And if it’s in someone else’s name, try and make sure that person, or group, or ideal, in the name the person speaks, is still alive and haven’t been hijacked while we were not paying attention.

Like mister Wilford.

Image source: IMDB.

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