15 June 2014 | ratzzila
The Essence of Emasculation
You have to love Asian cinema. It never holds back on any topic no matter how insane. Here we have an entire film about a father and son who are basically neutered by the woman of the household out of revenge for adultery. The rest of the film is about the agony of men dealing with life bereft of their penises, and how they try to get their penises back. Keep in mind this film has no dialog whatsoever which is not an unnatural as you might think, but it is still quite odd and seems a bit unbelievable at times. Perhaps there is some connection between speech, the word, and the penis? Yet it also creates a kind of emotional intensity that sets the film apart. Like Pieta, I wonder what the point is of all the perversity in this film. I suppose if you want to tie it into Freudian psychology, Greek tragedy etc that is one approach. Perhaps it is an absurdist tale about modern nonsense. Perhaps the black comedy satire this film is, somehow helps us come to terms with out repressions in the modern age not to mention our materialism, and hypocrisy. There is a repeating theme in Kim-Ki Duk's films of redemption through religion. The son who is castrated finds redemption in the Buddha. The son pays for the father's 'sins' at the hands of the mother. The mother corrupts her son further through incest to spite the father. In Pieta, the only character at peace with themselves is the one who gives up materialism and seeks the Buddha. I notice a pattern in the films of Kim-Di-Duk. The agent of justice is as 'bad' as those they punish for their transgressions. The ideal of a heroic moralist is lost in this Korean film. Instead everyone continues to fuel the fire of their own personal karmic retribution getting deeper and deeper, never really getting to the end, just deeper. Of course I may see this idea through the western lens of morality, while karma is more of an inherent, impersonal law of cause and effect, that no one controls. It is a force of nature really, assuming our interpretation of it is correct.
But enough theory. The acting is strong in this film. The story line is captivating. This film makes insightful points about human 'nature' such as the intermingling of pain and pleasure, or the amorality of the human animal. The extreme topic of this film may be a bit gratuitous and make you wonder what the point is though. The actors portray their pain and suffering in a believable, compelling way. The dark subject matter makes the film unapproachable by most though. I don't mean dark in some emo, Gothic poser fashion. It is harrowing watching the actors go though their pain. Perhaps that is the point of this film...to watch people suffer and feel sorry for them while being repulsed at the same time.