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A young girl is caught up in the 1980 Gwangju massacre, where Korean soldiers killed hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters who opposed the country's takeover by the military the year before. Flashbacks show the girl seeing her mother shot to death in the massacre. The film spurred the Korean public to demand the truth behind the incident, and their government eventually opened previously classified files on the massacre. Written by
Look, I neither need nor want to see a child raped in this film.
Moreover, that aforementioned rape scene is completely useless, because it definitely does not contribute to the story, and is totally OUT OF CONTEXT for what affects the SUBJECT MATTER of the film. Those scenes should have been deleted!!
The Gwangju Massacre, in which hundreds (up to thousands in some accounts) of the citizens were brutalized and killed by the paratroopers sent down by the military dictator Chun Doo Hwan, finally became the subject of a mainstream commercial , but has haunted the Korean cinema for close to 30 years in a variety of forms, constituting an essential background for understanding such diverse group of works as Jang Seon-woo's A Petal, Director Park, instead of depicting the events themselves or telling the stories of those who have experienced the massacre at first hand, decided to construct a love-triangle story around 2007's Gwangju-city-organized ceremony in commemoration of the Massacre, a re-enactment performance, a street demonstration and a shamanistic ritual rolled into one. In the film, however, the historical "reality" of 1980, which the viewers only access through highly symbolic performance art during the ceremony, the "fictional" reality of the movie's characters, and the documentary "reality" of the 2007 ceremony participated by the actors are allowed to overlap with one another, reaching for the violent climax in which key characters must literally re-live the gut-wrenching horror of the May 18th. As a Brechtian device to call attention to the essentially un-notable nature of the Massacre, this layered approach is at least intriguing. Alas, the actual outcome is likely to induce boredom and confusion rather than shock and understanding on the part of the viewers.
Director intents appear to be honorable, but the movie itself simply does not communicate them in a legible way, generating a heartburn-like sense of frustration instead of emotional resonance. Still, even though the viewing experience is not altogether satisfactory, A Petal deserves a place in Korean cinematic history as a local production that delves into one of the worst political tragedies in postwar Korean history, along with its impressive documentary-like footage.
The main set-piece of A Petal is an astounding sequence involving the incineration of thousands of dead bodies lining on the outskirts.
A grueling experience right to the end, as we again witness an innocent Korean family slaughtered in a frenzied attack by Korean soldiers. The lone survivor - a young girl - walks the darkened, empty streets of Gwangju. In a silent, backwards glance her eyes ask the question - why?
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