Monday, July 21, 2008

Hwal (The Bow)

This 2005 film by Korean Kim Ki-duk, a director some of us remember from the amazingly beautiful film Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring, is truly beautiful to watch even when has a hard to digest story about an older man in love with a young teenager girl, but Kim Ki-duk that also wrote the screenplay, does a splendid job that while dealing with the difficult story essence he presents it more as a story of dedication than a story of sexual desire.

Tells about a sixty something man that has been raising a girl since she was very young and their agreement that they will marry on her 17th birthday. They live a quiet and secluded life on a fishing boat in the middle of a nowhere sea, accessible only by a smaller boat that brings fishermen to do deep sea fishing, which is the only mean of their subsistence. Their everyday life is musically harmonious and peaceful only disturbed by the unsuccessful advances that some fishermen do to the girl. But everything changes when a fisherman teenage son arrives.

This is truly art cinema as has almost no dialogue and the two main characters do not utter a word in the entire film; also, it has the most magic abstract realism with a very magic, non-melodramatic and unexpected ending that is truly the most perfect way to end such a mundane story presented so beautifully. Cinematography and production values are of the highest quality with amazing views of a solitary ship in a vast, tranquil and endless sea.

Seems that Kim Ki-duk fans or purists do not particularly appreciate this work, but the movie has truly high artistic values no matter what Ki-duk has done before and after this movie. Still, this is not a movie that will make you feel a lot of emotions even when the two main roles are performed with exquisite expression and total silence, as the movie looks and feels like serene contemplation from afar and does not intent to engage you into feeling whatever the characters are feeling.

The movie has some wins and accolades from awards and fests from around the globe and is absolutely not for all audiences, you have to really enjoy art or art house cinema. I enjoyed the movie a lot mainly because the beautiful visual poetry, the most incredibly music extracted from a bow with a little drum alike added, and a common story told so different and magically.


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