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The struggles of an artist. Jang Seung-up (1843-1897), also called Owon, focusing on the years 1882 to 1897, when Korea was in political upheaval, caught between China and Japan, the conservative dynasty dying, and peasant revolt at hand. Jang, born poor, has genius; a merchant, Kim, becomes his patron, finding him a teacher. Jang must convince others that a commoner can have talent, then move beyond his ability to copy old masters and find his own style. He's bedeviled by a temper and alcohol, arguments with patrons as he seeks commissions, and relationships with kisaeng, particularly Mae-hyang, that start and stop. It's the life of a restless spirit producing great art. Written by
Not sure why the other comment on this film was so negative, but I loved this movie. I am a student of Asian art with a particular love of Korean art, culture and history. I thought this movie borough a very controversial and interesting character to life. Jang Seung-up is one of the (maybe the most) famous Korean artist and continues to be revered as a master. Given the tumult of the time in which he painted and his own conflicted nature, it is amazing that he produced so much work, in so many styles and with such skill. This movie honors his talent while taking a direct look at his erratic and somewhat self-destructive personality. The cinematography in MY opinion was beautiful, many of the outdoor panoramic shots looked like Korean landscape paintings (which I found a lovely conceit rather than "overly arty") and I think that Choi Min-sik portrayed Jang Seun-up with a necessary intensity and unpredictability. I would highly recommend this film to art lovers and movie lovers alike.
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