July 25, 2007

Kim Ki Duk

Cinefan screened one of Korean director Kim Ki Duk's initial films Bird Cage Inn. The auditorium was packed considering the man behind the film that was about to be screened. Kim Ki Duk has had a phenomenal rise in the world of cinema and is often considered to be one of the most interesting filmmaker operating out of Asia today. To say that his films have a very strong impact on your mind would be stating the obvious; his films have a strange haunting quality that lingers on your mind long after you have finished the film. He has a knack for picking up very basic ideas and adding layers to them; he once saiud that most of his ideas originate from 'hatered'.

Kim Ki Duk's breakthrough film, The Isle, was also the first film of the director that I saw. The film had a very simple premise- a mute girl works as a helper in a fishing resort way out in the Korean wilderness. She sells food, bait and some times herself to the tourists. In the course of the film she falls in love with a man after saving him with a fishing hook when he tries to commit suicide. The stark images, the rare dialogue and great production design were a few of the things that set The Isle apart.

The style of The Isle would became the directors trademark- little dialogue, striking images, interesting sequences and most importantly high original concepts. The other important films in his repertoire are Bad Guy, Address Unknown, Samaritan Girl but the two films that really stand out Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring and 3-Iron. The former is about the various stages in a humans life as well as the basic emotions that we live through. It deals with solitude, love, innocence, corruption and most importantly redemption. Kim Ki Duk uses a Buddhist monk's life as a metaphor; this monk lives on a floating house and it's through his eyes that we see the journey of a human life. The film has some stunning cinematography and lots of metaphors, the staple of any Kim Ki Duk film.

3-Iron has a young drifter who breaks into strangers' houses - and lives - while owners are away. He spends time by living it up and repaying their unknown hospitality by doing laundry or small repairs. The man bumps into a beautiful woman who's suffers at the hands of an abusive husband and a loveless marriage. The man is caught and jailed but when he comes back the women couldn't be happier. The film has a very metaphysical quality about it and meanders between the brilliant and the bizarre but is still beautiful.

Coming back to Bird Cage Inn, the running time seems too long and the long silences somehow don't convince. The film is about a family that takes in a prostitute and how her being there threatens to destroy the family. But more often than not things that break us are the very things that bind us as well but somehow the basic message is played for too long. There are almost 8 major characters and each has their moment so you can imagine the effect on the story. One can see many future Kim Ki Duk references and characters taking shape in Bird Cage Inn but that's not enough to enjoy the film. For some one who has seen better fare from Kim Ki Duk, Bird Cage Inn is only important for anthropological reasons.

Image Courtsey: www.horosheekino.ru

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