[FOUNTAIN]We really can’t escape timeDirector Choi Dong-hun’s movie “War of Flowers” has become a huge hit, attracting more than 7 million viewers. It is the second- highest grossing film among movies rated suitable for audiences 18 and older. The success of “War of Flowers” stems from its originality, an excellent cast and highly charged direction. The movie boasts an outstanding sense of pace. Mr. Choi said, “I do not belong to the MTV generation, but I like fast-paced movies. While Korean movies generally have 1,200 cuts, I shot ‘War of Flowers’ with 2,600 cuts.”
The “fast pace” is a must in modern cinema. Long takes are sometimes considered a symbol of boring art house films. While an audience in the 1940s could tolerate watching a long take that could last up to eight minutes without getting bored, that same eight minutes could be an eternity to modern movie goers.
American media expert Todd Gitlin wrote in “Media Unlimited” that a constant speed-up is a condition of modernity, and the most widespread and most important acceleration in the modern age is the rush of images. That’s why modern movies indulge in fast pace. The sign of a blockbuster hit or an entertaining movie is that time flies during the movie. If you keep checking your watch for time, it must be a boring movie that fails to grab your attention.
Some filmmakers stood up against this disparity between the time in films and the time in reality. The Nouvelle Vague filmmakers in 1960s France made a quasi-documentary that contained a tedious routine. When a character in such a film grew sick of the boredom and let out a shriek, the audience screamed as well and ran out of the theater.
In this context, modern films can be considered as “an effort to forget about real time.” We often say that a movie is for killing time. The essence of a movie as an entertainment is that the viewers “kill” the excess time at hand. However, time is a strange thing. The development of modern civilization and scientific technology has been a struggle to free mankind from physical labor and grant people more free time. The moderns save time by consuming instant food and riding high-speed trains. Sangmyeong University professor Park Chung-ja wrote, “When a modern purchases a product, he is buying the time inherent inside. He gains the time the producer puts into making the product and the extra free time that the product offers.”
We spend much free time watching movies and TV shows that let us forget about time. Does it mean liberation from time? Ms. Park calls it “an outrageous irony.”
*The writer is a culture and sports desk writer
of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yang Sung-hee