In 1921, the famous American journalist Walter Lippmann said that the art of democracy requires what he called the manufacture of consent. This phrase is an Orwellian euphemism for thought control. The idea is that in a state such as the . where the government can’t control the people by force, it had better control what they think. The Soviet Union is at the opposite end of the spectrum from us in its domestic freedoms. It’s essentially a country run by the bludgeon. It’s very easy to determine what propaganda is in the USSR: what the state produces is propaganda.
The claustrophobic tension of “Train to Busan” is amplified after a brilliantly staged sequence in a train station in which our surviving travelers learn that the entire country has gone brain-hungry. They discover that the undead can’t quite figure out door handles and are mostly blind, so tunnels and lines of sight become essential. Sang-ho also keeps up his social commentary, giving us characters who want to do anything to survive, and others who will do what it takes to save others. Early in the film, Seok-woo tells his daughter, “At a time like this, only watch out for yourself,” but he learns that this isn’t the advice we should live by or pass down to our children. Without spoiling anything, the survivors of “Train to Busan” are only so lucky because of the sacrifice of others. And the film is thematically stronger than your average zombie flick in the way it captures how panic can make monsters of us all, and it is our responsibility to overcome that base instinct in times of crisis.