Lee wrote the lead character specifically for Jeong-hie Yun, a major star of Korean cinema from the 1960s and 1970s. Yun later expressed satisfaction with how the role differed from what she typically played in the past: "I've always had the desire to show people different aspects of my acting and (Lee) provided me with every opportunity to do just that." Prior to Poetry, the last film Yun appeared in was Manmubang ("Two Flags") from 1994. See more »
What a wonderful film! To give my personal answer to one interviewer's question "Do you regard cinema, too, to be a dying form?" to the director Lee Chang-Dong. I believe (and deeply hope) that as long as films like Poetry are being made cinema will continue to flourish because it is important. It will continue to exist as long as humans exist because they are about being human. I was struck by how masterfully two sides of our humanness were presented in the film. On the one hand, it is about our search for beauty, as beauty can only be experienced if something of our own potential beauty responds to the beauty around us. There is something spiritual in this as Beauty and Truth are essentially one. On the other hand, there is the human predicament. That includes the pro and cons of the fact that we always have the choice to decide if we act ethically or not. That means if we actually say Yes to what is intrinsically our positive potential, or we say No and harm others, our environment and as a kind of end result, ourselves. What for me links the two is impermanence. Old age, illness and suicide as it is shown in the film. "Everything that is born will have to die" goes a very old Buddhist saying, and that happens no matter if we like it or not. At the same time, would we experience beauty if everything was to exist forever? Is it not because a beautiful flower grows out of a very simple looking seed in spring and then withers away after some weeks that it can become so precious to us? Without impermanence there is, one could say, by definition no beauty. Both are somehow the two sides of the same metaphorical coin. The same is true about this film. It still lingers on in my heart and mind weeks after I saw it. Very much like a true and wonderful poem, for example Rainer Maria Rilke's First Duino Elegy. It is is just about that, the wonder and horror of beauty.
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