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Over the course of one year, this film follows the life of an ordinary Pyongyang family whose daughter was chosen to take part in one of the famous Korean "Spartakiads". The ritualized explosions of color and joy contrast sharply with pale everyday reality, which is not particularly terrible, but rather quite surreal, like a typical life as seen "through the looking glass".Written by
A Peak Inside the Secret Orwellian World of North Korea
Under the Sun was well-received at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. It is a surreal film which was filmed by a Russian director who was given extraordinary access to film a family in Pyongyang, North Korea. Of course the entire film was scripted by the government and the director and his crew were monitored by government minders. The product is a picture of the family eating dinner, the young girl in class, the parents at work and everybody following the script. The young girl gets to join the children's union, a group that bears a striking resemblance to Hitler Youth. It is like a scene out of George Orwell that would fit well in Leni Riefenstahl propaganda film. Oddly, perhaps by accident or carelessness, the North Korean minders sometimes allowed the film crew to film some scenes where they are given instructions on what they want done in the next scene. The overall picture is eerie and it is difficult to tell whether the people just obey out of habit or out of fear. Are they complete automatons in most bizarre regime in the world? Do they even understand that there is alternative reality or have they been completely brainwashed to believe that they live in some sort of workers' paradise? While a little repetitive at times, Under the Sun is fascinating and rare chance to see inside the most isolated and repressive country on Earth. Recommended if you can deal with this sort of material.
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