Monday, 10 January 2011

Mother: The Korean Blow Up?

I loved the Korean film, Mother by Joon-ho Bong,with its provocative sense of ambiguity and uncertainty. The film is about a mother and her hunt for the real killer of a girl whose murder the mother's son has been convicted of. 

Especially interesting from a photographic point of view is the role that mobile phone photography plays in the film. In the film (and South Korea in general), mobile phones that have been adapted so they don't bleep when pictures are taken are called 'pervert phones'. The murdered girl had one of these phones and on this phone the mother suspects she will find a picture of the real killer - but the mother is not the only one looking for the phone.

So the film is a contemporary Korean version of  Blow-Up, but with a few subplots and ambiguities besides. There is a separation angle to the film, there is gross injustice and an obsessive mother-and-son relationship that ties in with  the dangers of both remembering and forgetting - in that sense, the film mirrors  Hindi cinema themes of separation, loss and redemption through suffering. In all those Hindi separation films, the symbolic separation is from Pakistan. I wonder if in Mother, the separation, the lost soul of the film is a symbolic North Korea. I don't know, but watch Mother - the best film I've seen since A Prophet.

An interview with Joon-ho Bong, where you'll find out that people dance on buses in South Korea and they do in Turkey too.

1 comment:

Sean said...

I saw this over Christmas (it was either this or some film with that American James Stuart...) and the pivotal role that the phone plays is interesting. While the film was not perfect, it is worth watching for the beauty of the closing scene alone...

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