[ENTERTAINMENT]Dusting off the local celluloid classicsToday's filmmakers are adept at delivering what movie audiences want, like "sassy" girls vomiting in subways and gangsters with nasty weapons. But in the early days of moviemaking, the plots weren't so sensational; the story lines were often tragic and contained profound sentiments. Looking back on those old movies stirs nostalgia and an appreciation for the pioneering works.
In the decades following the making of the first local moving picture in 1919, an elite group of stylish directors and actors was born, who still remain pop icons. Their old celluloid creations are hard even for Koreans to find now. But this spring, thanks to the nonprofit Korean Film Archive at the Seoul Arts Center, non-Korean speakers will be able to watch six of Korea's most important old films with English subtitles.
Last year, the film preservation organization added English subtitles to and screened newer films, like "Joint Security Area," and had good turnouts.
The classics to be shown this year are: "Madame Freedom" ("Jayu Buin," 1956) on Saturday; "Gilsotteum" (1985) on March 23; "Heavenly Homecoming" ("Byeoldeuleui Gohyang," 1974) on April 13; "A Coachman" ("Mabu," 1961) on April 20; "Old Man Making a Jar" ("Dokjitneun Neulgeuni," 1969) on May 18; and "Eunuch" ("Naesi," 1968) on on June 15. All screenings take place at 2 p.m.
"Madame Freedom," directed by Han Hyeong-mo, is about a woman possessed with a wild streak who has a meek husband. The husband, a professor, lets his wife go out every night, hoping she'll grow out of it. Meanwhile, he sparks up a relationship with one of his students.
"Gilsotteum," directed by Im Gwon-taek, stars the Korean equivalents of Sean Connery and Elizabeth Taylor, Shin Seong-il and Kim Ji-mi. The film tells the story of a married couple who are separated during the Korean War only to be reunited 33 years later ?though they both went on to remarry. The director Im lets the heartrending story unfold in an deftly dispassionate way.
"A Coachman," which won an award at the Berlin International Film Festival, depicts the hard road lived by a widower in the Joseon Dynasty era. "Old Man Making a Jar," based on the Hwang Sun-won novel, is about a woman who leaves her husband for a younger man, but winds up destitute and rues her youthful folly.
"Heavenly Homecoming" is the most well known of the bunch. It follows a woman who falls into an emotional abyss after being abandoned by her first love. The actors, like Shin Seong-il, recite their lines in such a macho way that Koreans still impersonate them.
After each movie, a question and answer session will be conducted in English led by Cho Won-kyung, who was a film critic in the United States and now teaches at Yonsei and Ewha universities.
The Korean Film Archive screening room is in the Seoul Arts Center in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. To get there, take subway line No. 3, get off at the Nambu Bus Terminal station and take exit 4 or 5. Follow the signs and it's a 10 minute walk, or shuttle buses run from just outside the station. For more information, call 02-763-9485 or 02-732-5611 (English).
by Chun Su-jin