On a fishing boat at sea, a 60-year old man has been raising a girl since she was a baby. It is agreed that they will get married on her 17th birthday, and she is 16 now. They live a quiet and secluded life, renting the boat to day fishermen and practicing strange divination rites. Their life changes when a teenage student comes aboard...
At South Korea's border with the North, troops guard the coast. Each bullies those ranking beneath him; tensions are high. PFC Kang and his friend Private Kim are on patrol when drinking ... See full summary »
Romances end in blood and the frail hopes of individuals are torn apart in a vile karmic continuity of colonialism, civil war and occupation. After surviving Japanese colonization, Korea ... See full summary »
What exactly is this? A movie? A documentary? A video diary? If you are looking for entertainment, then this is definitely not it. As with most of his work, Kim Ki-Duk is not into mass market Hollywood style.
Watching this piece is like an inspection of a self-portrait of Rembrandt or van Gogh. The artist goes into seclusion. He takes a long hard look in the mirror, preens himself, then strips away his id bit by bit. He examines the parts in minutiae, bewildered. He wails as he could not make any sense of it. He creates an alter ego, a shadow. He cross examines himself; playing both the cool detachment as well as the devil's advocate. In between, he consoles himself by singing the Korean folk song Arirang as a wolf would bray at the full moon. During his lucid moments, he is the calm director / editor in post-production. He checks each take critically, wondering how he can put it back together into a singular entity again. Bit by bit, splice by splice, over three years, he came out with this "movie".
Like any self-portrait, this "movie" does not show Kim Ki-duk, the entire person. It is just a fleeting capture of the artist at that moment; as a Picasso in his Blue Period is not a summation of Picasso the person.
A portrait has no meaning, relevance, if you have not seen any of the artist's endeavours. But once you have been touched by their struggle, curiosity will be pipped. Why did he do the things he does? Where did he gets it? How did he do it?
After many soul searching encounters with the numerous self- portraits of Rembrandt and van Gogh, I now look forward to another Arirang moment with Kim Ki-duk. It may not be pleasant but I am sure it will be an experience.
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