Monday, February 20, 2006

Film Analysis

Trembling on my feet after landing on Edinburgh Airport I just visited the Film & TV Department of the Edinburgh College of Art. Noe Mendelle (Head of this Department) showed us a little bit of 'Angelmakers', a documentary directed by our Dutch post-degree student Astrid Bussink.

This was to introduce me and seven more attendants to what Film & TV would be in the Second Year at the College.

Mainly storytelling and visualizing these stories, either in fiction or documentary. Also learning about the context and buildup of film. And to a degree, learning about TV.

However..... in August some 150 applications will compete for the 12 seats in Second Year. Of these 12 seats, 10 will be given to Home (i.e. Scotland) Students, 2 to Overseas students. Taking into account that of these 150 applications, 100 will never pass for an interview, I am still faced with 50 competitors for 2 seats.

It is, a chance of 4 % to become a Second Year Film & TV Student at the College of Art.

But chances don't count, quality does. So does aptitude and ability.

Noe praised us First Year Students lucky that we could sit for an interview at least. Now I am even more aware of the stiff competition and the high mark that I should score to have a chance.. at all.

So, I'll write my BRIEF TWO for Film & Design:

Film analysis of the film Bin~Jip (i.e. empty house) [max 200 words].

As I had never written an analysis of a film before I was glad to find some guidance at Yale Film Studies, Film Analysis Website (see


I. Auteur

French for "author". Used by critics writing for Cahiers du cinema and other journals to indicate the figure, usually the director, who stamped a film with his/her own "personality". In my case this is director Kim Ki-duk.

Courtesy CineKorea (see

Director Kim Ki-duk

A filmography of Kim Ki-duk:

YearKorean TitleInternational TitleSet DesignerActorSet DecoratorProduction DesignerArt DirectorProducerEditorWriterDirector
1996Ag-o(literal English: Crocodile).....................
1997Yasaeng dongmul bohoguyeog(English: Wild Animals).....................
1998Paran daemun(English: The Birdcage Inn) (informal literal English: Blue Gate).....................
1999Seom(English: The Isle)...............
2000Shilje sanghwang(English: Real Fiction).....................
2001Suchwiin bulmyeong(English: Address Unknown).....................
2002Nabbeun namja(English: Bad Guy).....................
2002Hae anseon(English: The Coast Guard)........................
2003Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom(English: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring)...Adult Monk...............
2004Samaria(English: Samaritan Girl)..................
2004Bin~Jip(English: 3-Iron)(literal English: Empty House).....................

A biography of Kim Ki-duk:

Kim Ki-Duk was born in Bonghwa, north of Kyungsang Province. Growing up in a mountainous village, he was a mischievous boy who occasionally broke other children's arms, or show his peers strange electronic gadgets of his own creation. When he turned nine, he moved to Seoul with his parents. He entered an agriculture training school, but he was forced to give up junior high after his older brother was dismissed from school. Going through factories during his adolescent years, he joined the marines when he turned 20.

Kim adapted well to military life, spending five years as a noncommissioned officer. This experience may have served as material for the rich details of brotherhood shared among the men of his films.

After leaving the marines, Kim spent two years at a church for the visually impaired with the intention of becoming a preacher while continuing the painting he started as a child. In 1990, with only a plane ticket in his possession, he left for Paris. He manages to earn a living by organizing ateliers or selling his painting. When Kim arrived in Paris he considered 'production by manual labor the only worthwhile thing in life, while regarding culture as a mere luxury,' but his experiences in the city inspired him with new views.

Upon his return from France, Kim focused on developing a film script for the next six months. He received the good news that two of his scripts had been selected in a contest.

Accordingly Kim's film life began in a manner quite different from the channels other filmmakers took. Free of any institutional education in film, he never served as assistant director or developed film mania. But this is precisely the reason for the freedom he was able to embrace as a filmmaker. His films can be considered as autobiographical writing with a film camera. This is why Kim describes each and every one of his films as a'sequence' within his entire body of work.

The cruelty that has become his trademark was impregnated with the harsh reality that inundated his life of thirty some odd years.

The angry energy overflowing from his earlier works shifts to a careful fantasy seeking co-existence and reconcilation in Birdcage Inn. In this film, Kim attempts to draw in sex as a 'part of life' and transform it into a 'medium for understanding each other.'

His fourth feature, The Isle, serves as a significant turning point for Kim. Once again the views directed at his film were divided into extremes, yet his entrance into competition at Venice, and the international sales scores became an opportunity for Kim to be acknowledged as 'a filmmaker who may not be fully understood but should be accepted as talented.' This film brought the breath-taking, piercing images appearing occasionally in his earlier works to the surface, earning him a reputation as 'a filmmaker who contemplates through images,' an expression never used since Yoo Hyun-Mok, the master of Korean cinema during the golden days of the 1960s.

An Italian journalist commenting on The Isle which stated that "the distinction between loving or not loving someone has become meaningless." In this film Kim returns to the sadomasochistic relationship between man and woman. He explains that such change "isn't planned but something that just jumps out with the immediate response from one's sensory and nervous systems."

In fact, his films seem to follow this course. The characters in his films continued to betray and disappoint the audience by shifting between good and evil, beauty and ugliness. Likewise, instead of defining them as good or bad, we as an audience are urged to suspect the boundaries of class, gender, normality and abnormality, order and disorder, the center and the margins themselves.

In his fifth feature, Real Fiction, Kim explores the boundaries between the conscious and the unconscious, reality and fantasy.

Kim Ki-duk's films are often defined as 'grotesque.' This word, which had lately become a fad in Korea, is now the significant key word representing the fall of mental stability and its various cultural expressions.

To Kim, his life, his films and cruelty are intertwined with each other. The cruel reality he expresses may be feared by the audience and abhorred by the critics, yet if the energy that inundates his films should be acknowledged as dark and wrongful, it cannot just be a matter of his films. Rather it must be seen as his attempt to address the cruelty of our lives and of the world we live in.

He takes us to that reality, into the direction of self-reform. Such modest effort for Kim is a starting point, foreseeing the revolution of the world. Like Antonin Artaud, who at the beginning of the 20th century introduced the theater of cruelty as a means to find a cure for himself and others, Kim, whose films are filled with destruction, rape and murder, used bloody terror and sadism not as a means to an end but as a sacrifice for returning humanity to a state before being defiled by a cruel reality.

This is the reason why Kim responds to the hateful criticism directed at him by saying, "Have you ever really seen the lives I present through my films? Have you ever truly looked into the desperate messages contained in my work?" He adds that filmmaking to him is " a process to change his own misunderstandings into an understanding." Through film, he has finally begun to experience the beauty and warmth the world has to give. He explains that filmmaking to him is repeating the process of "kidnapping those of the mainstream into my own space, then introducing myself as a human being also asking them to shake my hand so that they will be able to forgive my threatening position."

British film critic Tony Rayns, who knows Kim Ki-Duk all too well, describes him as an interesting person. His sensitivity, stubbornness and aggressiveness often make it difficult for others to communicate with him. However he is capable of becoming an angel with his innocent and soft expression when he is aware that he is being loved and understood.

Kim relies on his inherent sensitivity, direct observation and personal experience. Now finally receiving local and international attention, it seems that he is going through an unsetting tug-of-war between 'the gaze from outside' and his 'inner-self.' For those who are willing to give advice to Kim Ki-Duk in the name of life or art, the most important point is focusing not on the aesthetic exterior of an object, but on the inner fire that may be easily destroyed yet is rigorously burning with life. This is precisely the reason why Kim Ki-Duck is often compared to another master of the golden age of Korean cinema, Kim Ki-Young.

What Kim Ki-Duck truly longs for is a gentle touch that will soothe his ragged inner world, yet keep his spirit intact. Sincere criticism along with encouragement from the heart is also a necessity.

This enigmatic filmmaker is adding to his filmography with incredible energy and at an amazing pace, but it is yet to be seen whether he will continue the diabolic desire and aesthetics that disappeared with Kim Ki-Young.

Kim So-Hee (Film Critic,

II. Diegesis

The diegesis includes objects, events, spaces and the characters that inhabit them, including things, actions, and attitudes not explicitly presented in the film but inferred by the audience. That audience constructs a diegetic world from the material presented in a narrative film.


1 comment:

Doerak said...

What a world down there on the Academy! A chance to get into the 2nd year of Film/TV is just like a dream but sometimes dreams can change in reality; so keep that in mind and try the best. Don't cry 'Argentina' and think of the best way to fulfil the ideas!