Director finds hidden jewels of film music

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Director finds hidden jewels of film music

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Actress-turned-director Bang Eun-jin has released a compilation album consisting of 95 songs from 60 Korean films. The songs on the album are low key and melodic and are enjoyable enough to stand on their own. By Oh Sang-min

Music from a film sometimes leaves a stronger impression than the movie itself. The song “Gabriel’s Oboe,” from the 1986 British film “The Mission” is recognizable whether one has seen the movie or not. The song, by Italian composer Ennio Morricone, starts with the resonant sound of the oboe and continues with a rich orchestral melody. Since the film’s premiere, the song has been played around the world.

Filmmaker Bang Eun-jin is hoping to introduce listeners to the Korean equivalents of Gabriel’s Oboe with a new compilation album. She paired up with composer Cho Sung-woo and together the two selected 95 songs from 60 Korean films for the album called “Bang Eun-jin Meets Korean Film Scores.”

“Some movies have beautiful scores but producers don’t even think about releasing a soundtrack because they don’t have the money,” Bang said in a recent interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily. With the album, she hopes to bring this music to the public.

The project came about when Bang’s coworkers suggested she release an album to celebrate her third year as a radio D.J.

Bang hosts the midnight radio show “Journey to Night,” which specializes in music from film, every day on Traffic Broadcasting Service (95.1 Mhz).

Her coworkers also suggested that she collaborate with Cho, who has created music for films like “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK” (2006) and “Duelist” (2005).

“Working with Cho Sung-woo was great,” Bang said. “He’s such a film music expert. He gave me a list of 300 songs and together we narrowed it down.”

When selecting the songs, she said she and Cho tried to “find the diamonds in the rough, regardless of [the film’s] success and quality.”

The compilation album, which comes as a four-CD set, was released earlier this month and a percentage of the proceeds will be used to build a dedicated theater for independent film.

“It’s impossible to imagine a film without music, because it soothes your soul,” she said.

Bang is just one of a handful of female Korean directors. She got into the business as an actress in 1989, but her big break came with her role in the 1995 film “301, 302.” In the movie, she plays a woman who copes with her stress by cooking and feeding all types of delicacies to a woman next door who suffers from an eating disorder. It was her first leading role but she received three best actress awards for her work.

The film also changed Bang’s career. During the making of 301, 302, Bang involved herself in every aspect of filmmaking. It was the first time she had been behind the scenes, but it wouldn’t be her last.

“It was the first movie in which I had a leading role, so I participated in every part of the film, even in creating subtitles,” Bang recalled. “I thought I could learn more about acting if I studied more about film production.”

In the years that followed, Bang continued to act but she slowly became more involved in production. After working behind the scenes on several short films, she made her first feature film, “Princess Aurora” (2005), the story of a female serial killer.

Although some doubted she could make the transition from actress to director, she received support from directors Im Kwon-taek, Lee Chang-dong and Park Chul-su. However, Bang said it was Lee, who recently received the Best Screenplay award from the Cannes Film Festival for “Poetry,” who served as her mentor.

When Princess Aurora opened, it received rave reviews from both critics and moviegoers.

Bang is currently preparing to release her second film, which she described as a “Joseon Dynasty version of ‘Sex and the City.’”

To create the score, she worked with renowned composer Lee Byung-woo, who composed the music for hit films like “Mother” (2009) and “Haeundae” (2009).


By Sung So-young [so@joongang.co.kr]
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