Starring: Seo Ju-Hee, Lim Yu-Jin, Kim Hye-Na
Director: Song Il-Gon
Studio: SRE Corp
About This DVD
A 17-year-old teenager who flushes her unwanted new-born baby down the toilet in a filthy public bathroom, a twenty-something musical actress who has to have her tongue surgically removed due to cancer, and a married woman in her thirties who gets thrown out of her home for prostituting herself to buy her daughter a piano. What do these women have in common, except for the fact that each seems to be at a difficult impasse in her life? They are the three protagonists of "Flower Island," Korean director Song Il-Gon's debut feature film, which has received much praise and many prizes at international film festivals.
The film follows the stories of three women, each at a different point in her life - Hye-na in her teens, Yoo-jin in her twenties and Ok-nam in her thirties. Thrown together by happenstance, the unlikely threesome goes in search of "Flower Island," an isle off the southern coast of Korea, reputed to heal past wounds and soothe all sorrows. On their journey to the mystical island, they meet several people who help them get there and get a chance to look back on their lives. Once there, they experience a spiritual awakening and undergo the process of quiet healing.
"I thought of this movie as a fairy tale or an allegory. So I needed extreme characters. I wanted to make a fantasy-like fairy-tale, a movie that showed spiritual realism. So I needed characters who were abstract and symbolic representatives of certain types, totally free from mundanity," said Song in an interview with The Korea Times. However, his characters are not simply stiff conceptual symbols; they are living, breathing entities. To create characters that conveyed sincerity, the director talked continuously with the actresses about the characters during the month-long rehearsals. The actresses also received some psychotherapy to find out what memories were binding them, as Yoo-jin does in the movie. "I try to impart an air of reality through the actors and capture an actor becoming one with the character and breathing life into it, on camera," said the 30-year-old filmmaker. Despite the director's wish to spin a fairy tale, he portrays his characters in a realistic, documentary-like way, except for a few fantasy-like, ephemeral snippets that cut into the main story. "When people talk about fantasy, they usually think of something like animation or science fiction. But I think the total opposite. Fantasy is definitely inherent in our lives. It's just hard to see it. It can be the circle of destiny, coincidence or an unbelievable situation. You can express fantasy in a dream-like way, but I think that if you express it in a hyper-realistic way, you can find fantasy in everyday life," Song explained. His pursuit of realism in the film almost amounted to obsessiveness; for the childbirth scene, the actress had to stay almost 18 hours in the bathroom, and it took 50 takes to perfect one scene shot in knee-deep snow to the director's liking, despite the freezing cold weather and resulting frostbites.
His dedication has paid off handsomely. "Flower Island" was awarded a number of prizes at international film festivals; it received the New Currents Award, the FIPRESCI (Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique) Award and the PSB (Pusan System of Broadcasting) Audience Award at this year's Pusan International Film Festival. The audience at the 58th Venice International Film Festival chose Song as the Best New Director and the film recently garnered the Grand Prize at Tokyo Film eX 2001. His short films laid the groundwork for his award-winning reputation, with "Liver and Potato" and "The Picnic" receiving critical acclaim. The former won the Grand Prize and Audience Prize at Seoul Short Film Festival, and the latter won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival.
"As this is my first feature film after ten years of studying filmmaking, I thought a lot about the attributes of film and the relationship between film and me. I thought about what films could do and what I could do. I wanted to capture on camera something that you cannot see, something abstract," said Song. He explained that, while making this movie, he was filled with the determination to overthrow the conventions of Korean films and the wish to create a new cinematographic language. "A lot of people want to fit something into a conventional mold, but I want to break them all. I want to try to present new possibilities. I don't want to curb imagination. I think of film as a genre of art, so I think it should show new forms and new stories or remind people of what they already know."
So why did he choose his first feature film as a buddy road movie with women protagonists? "People may wonder why a man would film a story about women; I just wanted to explore the theme of `motherhood.' I think there is a great power latent in it. I believe the cycle of conception and birth makes this world worth living in." "This film is not very considerate; it is not a narrative, but rather a portrait of the characters. I tried to tell a story not through events but through their expressions. I wanted the audience to imagine the experiences of the characters and keep the possibilities infinitely open. I wanted them to look at a character's face and feel what that person is feeling," he explained. In the film, "Flower Island" is a place where people can heal their pain and receive solace. "It can have many meanings, depending on how people look at it. For some, it could be a refuge, and to others, it may be hope, salvation or a utopia. For me, 'Flower Island' represents solace and hope."
|Audio Format:||DD 2.0 Stereo|
|Video Format:||Widescreen 1.85:1 (Anamorphic)|
|Special Features:||Interactive Menu, Scene Selections, Cast & Crew, About the Film, Interview, Production Notes, Highlights, Theatrical Trailer, Other Trailers, Making Film|