Wednesday, 9 April 2014

introduction to Korean cinema

when i say i like something, i mean it. which is why i have taken my love of all things Korean to another obsessive level and enrolled in a lecture series about Korean cinema.

i love activities which are
1. free
2. cultural / artsy fartsy
3. offers free food

this ticked all the boxes. they even provided notebooks and pens! and the lecturer actually attends the Busan Film Festival every year ((dies from envy.

so i just flicked through the notes i took yesterday (Humble beginnings: From Colonisation to the 'Golden Age' of South Korean Movies) and betcha didn't know

1. the first Korean movies were directed by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea.
we watched clips of these, and it was quite amusing hearing Korean interspersed with Japanese and seeing the Japanese subtitles on the right side of the screen. it's mostly propaganda and has scenes of the Rising Sun being raised and Koreans pledging allegiance to the Emperor.

but on the bright side the first few generations of directors were all trained in Japan, and knew their shit. possibly also why the entertainment system in both countries are so similar.

2. majority of old Korean movies were destroyed during the war(s) and what we have now is actually from China.
this is because the Japanese-produced Korean movies were sent to Manchuria where Korean troops were fighting on behalf of the Japanese.

3. the archive of old films has been further 'edited' by the South Korean government.
this happens when actors defect to North Korea. they just chop a good 20 minutes away from a 90 minute movie. hard to imagine, but once North Korea was probably more prosperous than the South.

4. 'The Hand of Fate' (1954)
the year dad was born! this film marked the first (blink-and-you'll-miss) onscreen kiss and featured a lady smoker! lecturer says there's a 'thing about Korean women and cigarettes' and I must agree.

i had a couple of female Korean housemates who smoked but hid (?) their cigarettes in the bathroom/kitchen. once i borrowed a lighter from one, and she seemed shocked. a few minutes later she asked me how i knew she smoked. (er, i can still see your packet behind your shower gel?)

5. after the propaganda movies came liberalization movies (post WWII) and when the Americans were in South Korea, there were many movies about Westernization, decadence, female sexuality.

i actually think South Korean movies are very open. and i also just realized that for every Korean movie that i watch, i have seen at least one of the actors in another film before. it's scary.

next movie on my personal list is Secretly, greatly which lecturer says did really well at the Korean box office last year.

plus Kim Soo Hyun is cute - so is everybody else in the trailer, not counting Scarface. actually it's kind of amazing how the actors preserve their youth so well! and it's almost unnatural how beautiful they all are.

apparently there is a 15-year gap but who can tell?

here is the link to Han Hyung Mo's Madame Freedom (1956)

(i haven't watched the full movie, but it's about multiple people having affairs, but i do remember a lovely waltz playing - either Skater's Waltz, Blue Danube.. or something else.)

and here is Shin Sang Ok's A Flower In Hell (1958)

(about 2 brothers romantically involved with the same prostitute - wah. an interesting fact is the prostitute is played by the director's wife, who acted in like 70+ of his movies for free, as part of her wifely duties. i don't know about this..)

i think i need to hit on my fellow classmates so i have somebody to nerd with.

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