Beautifully shot tale of the rift between romance and duty
A BROAD BELLFLOWER is a surprisingly well made North Korean movie that comes across as a mix of propaganda and romance. The storyline is a very simple and traditional one, but the film-makers are content to paint an evocative picture of pastoral life, where the poor make a good life for themselves out in the countryside and hard work is the key to success.
The main thrust of the storyline involves a guy who falls in love with one of two sisters. He plans to take her away from their simple life to find work in the city, where they can become rich and make a success of their life. She resists him, torn between love and duty, and the emphasis of the film is on her struggle.
As somebody who'd never watched a North Korean film before, I was surprised by this movie's exemplary production values. The cinematography is exceptional and this is a visual treat of a film that makes the country look beautiful in the extreme. The acting is strong throughout and none of the performances feel false or put on. Yes, there's propaganda throughout, with the moral message that you should put your ambitions aside and conform to what society expects of you, but then I expected that before watching so it didn't bother me. A BROAD BELLFLOWER is a film worth tracking down for its rarity alone.
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