A different perspective on love
What is it like to live with one person for 80 years? How about loving someone constantly and consistently for 80 years? I’ll have been married for 20 years next year, and 80 years is too long a time to even fathom.
Documentary “My Love, Don’t Cross That River” has now garnered more than one million viewers, an unusual success for an independent film. The movie is about the love between an old couple who has lived together for 76 years. The seniors dress in matching traditional outfits, tease each other and make jokes like a young couple. When they part, the audience can’t help crying. The film has become a landmark in movie history as it thrived among commercial blockbusters. It is loved not only by older audiences but also young Koreans, and has expanded the boundaries of documentaries.
While some call it a senior version of a romantic fantasy about eternal love, this movie is not so simple. It is not about the greatness of love. It addresses the attitude of people in love. The 89-year-old wife constantly says, “Beautiful!” She is impressed by birds, wild plants and her 98-year-old husband wearing flowers behind his ear. She also likes to say, “Poor thing.” She pities a stray dog and adopts him. When her husband passes away, she says with tears, “My poor love.” She is not the kind of person to say cliched things like, “You left me all alone.”
The documentary shows that the essence of love is not the object of affection, but the attitude of the person in love. We often say that we can’t find someone to love, or that someone is not worth loving. But true love comes from the mind-set to care and love one another, or from the attitude of love itself. And love begins from having sympathy and feelings for all the things in the world.
Director Jin Mo-young said, “The couple has been caring for each other as a habit for 76 years. Their actions evoked love and affection from each other.” In the movie, the husband says, “I’ve never complained about her food in my life. If something tastes good, I’d eat more. If I don’t like something, I’d just eat little.” This considerate gesture is the very qualification of love.
As the film becomes a box office success, an art cinema chain expanded its screenings, but Jin asked the theater to keep them limited. “I realized that my film was actually undermining the diversity of diversity theaters.” It was the choice of an independent filmmaker who has been criticizing the vices of having monopolies over screens. If you are in love, you should learn from this old couple, whether it is a person or a movie that you love.
*The author is a culture and sports news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 20, Page 39
by YANG SUNG-HEE