Monday, August 21, 2023

The Girl Raised As A Future Daughter-In-Law (South Korea, 1965)

In an unspecified period of time, probably centuries ago, there was a very poor girl called Jeom Soon. She was already a young adult, and would have an arranged marriage with the son of a wealthier family because she lived with her widow mother and they were about to lose their poor house and then the marriage would be a way for her mom to save her house.

And Jeom Soon went, she moved out to the house of her future husband. He was much younger than her and his father was nice, but her future mother-in-law, Lady Park, was terrible, treated her as a maid. Jeom Soon had to do all the heavy work of the household while Lady Park did nothing and she really maltreated and humiliated her future daughter-in-law. However, despite the difference of age, Jeom Soon got along very well with her future husband. Her future husband loved Jeom Soon very much and was very caring with her, which just worsened her situation because when Lady Park realized that, she thought that her daughter-in-law would steal her baby boy from her. And then her husband, the future father-in-law, tried to control the temper of his wife but it didn't work.

One day, Jeom Soon went outside to get some water and then she met by chance a suitor that she had in the past who begged her to leave the house of her in laws, that he would pay her debt with them but she refused even to talk to him. Jeom Soon told him directly that she was engaged to someone else and he was supposed to forget about her. Unfortunately to Jeom Soon, some other women of the neighborhood saw her talking with this guy, and they told Lady Park. Right Afterwards, Lady Park really beat Jeom Soon up with a whip. Some days after this humiliation, the girl got sick. And when Jeom Soon got sick, Lady Park sent her back to her mother because she didn't want to stay with that sick girl who would be unable to do anything in the household. However, Lady Park’s son, even though he was still a child, ended up following his future wife because he loved her very much. He wanted to stay with her. Then Lady Park arrived in Jeom Soon’s house, insulted her mother and took her son out of there by force.

After this event, Jeom Soon’s mother realized that she would be forced to sell her house to pay her debts, and then they would have to find somewhere else to live, maybe even on the streets. Lady Park’s son begged her not to insult Jeom Soon’s mother, but it didn't work out. Therefore, the engagement was over, because after all, Lady Park brought Jeom Soon back home to her mom as if she was a bag of potatoes. And she had a terrible temper, Jeom Soon’s mother realized that her daugther was brutalized there and did not want Jeom Soon to return anymore.

However, Lady Park’s son and his father did not want to accept it because they loved their future wife and daughter-in-law, after all. Thus, in order to change Lady Park’s mind, the son pretended he was sick while his father tried to find a shaman who would tell his wife that it would be better to bring Jeom Soon back home because she would be precious to the family and if she did not do that, her baby boy would pass away very soon. Of course that Lady Park got very scared. It was her only child and she did not want to lose her son. And then she discussed with her husband if it would be better to bring Jeom Soon back or not.

In the meantime, Jeom Soon and her mom sold their house and moved somewhere else. They were totally unaware that Lady Park wanted Jeom Soon back, because both families lived in villages that were relatively distant from each other. At the same time, the Lady Park genuinely regretted her actions and wanted Jeom Soon back, realizing that she was caring with her son, she did all the housework, she was never a bad person, and she tried to please her in every wat. But then, of course, Jeom Soon and her mom had already left home with their belongings. But they left on foot, so it would not be too hard to find them.

At first, while Lady Park tried to find Jeom Soon and her mother, they went to the wrong way, but after a while they got to find the girl and her mom. Then, Lady Park talked to them. Jeom Soon’s mother was extremely insulted of the treatment that Jeom Soon had, because she knew that her daughter was beaten up, humiliated, her work was exploited, and of course that she did not want her daughter to return. However, Jeom Soon only had problems with the mother-in-law, but she missed her father-in-law and her future husband. Despite the big difference of age, there was genuine love and affection between them both.

Thus, when Jeom Soon realized that her in-laws wanted her back, the girl wanted to return. She understood that Lady Park was doing the best she could, then she convinced her mother to let her go. And this is what exactly happened. As Jeom Soon’s mother was ill, she could not leave her mother behind. So, Lady Park invited her mother to live with them too. At first, the mother refused because she thought she would be exploited and treated as a maid too. But the Lady Park convinced her otherwise, claiming that she regretted everything she did, that she had disgraceful attitudes before. Therefore, It would not happen again. Then, Jeom Soon’s mother was convinced to go. After all, both mother and daughter did not have anywhere else to go anyway. So they went to Lady Park’s home.

Furthermore, in the very end of the film we can see that the boy, although still a child, got to follow his mother and take his future wife home. Jeom Soon was very touched by this act. And then they were happily together home. It seems that after all this mess, nothing bad would happen again.

This film provides valuable insight about how life was like in ancient Asia. We do not know exactly the time frame when this plot happened, but we can see how people lived by doing manual work, how they related to each other, the clothes they wore. So it's a really nice time machine. Those old Korean films, they are important to understand the current K-dramas. It's a good cultural experience.

If you don't get to find the films in DVD or online, you can find some writings about them in blogs, in websites. So it's a part of cinema history that is really important to know, but at the same time it's so underrated. It is nice to see how love can happen, even though there are bad circumstances and how poverty can crush people so much, but at the same time we can see that things can have a good and positive outcome.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Rope (USA, 1948)

Two guys strangled to death their old colleague. After the crime they put his body in a trunk and then they organized a kind of a party and invited the parents of the colleague they have just killed, his fiancé and another common colleague they had. One of the guys who committed the crime was really sure about what he wanted to do, but the other guy seemed to have been forced by the other one to kill. It seems that he did not want too much to kill, but the other guy influenced him negatively. Then the guy who seemed to be a kind of leader, and the one who really was certain and proud of his cruelty, also invited to the party a guy who used to be his teacher in the college, the latter played by actor James Stewart.

We can observe that this specific teacher had some weird beliefs that murder must be something committed by a few privileged people, and then the lives of those people who did not matter to society must be eliminated. There were even comparisons with the terrible events that happened in World War II that killed many people and they also thought that some people were superior to others. So, this teacher had this kind of mentality. The criminals invited the teacher to the party because they thought that if the teacher knew about the murder, maybe he would understand why they committed the murder and even applauded them.

The criminals also had an elderly maid and she realized that there was something wrong in the house because she made the dining table, she organized everything, the plates, the glasses and all of a sudden the guys changed their minds and wanted to serve food in a trunk and the table was so well organized and they seemed nervous. The maid quite could not understand that. However, the party began without problems. The parents and the fiancé of the murdered guy arrived and all of them wondered why the guy didn't arrive yet. He was never late. His fiancé was worried. His parents were worried too. But of course that they could not imagine they were having dinner in the trunk with the body of their son, of their loved one, inside that.

Then the teacher arrived and he started to realize more than anyone else that there was something wrong in that house. The guy who was not too willing to kill was extremely nervous. The teacher had been the former teacher of all of those guys, both guys who committed the murder and then of the colleague of them was called, and then he saw that they were weird but it was just a suspicion. After a while, the maid told him that she also thought that the guys were weird but the teacher had no proof of his suspicion. After a while, the parents of the murdered guy decided to leave the party because they were too worried with his son. The teacher left too. But when the teacher was leaving, the maid instead of giving him his hat, she gave him, by mistake, the hat of the guy who was murdered. And the teacher knew that because of the initials of the murdered guy inside the hat. Then he had some sort of evidence that something was actually wrong. After a while, he returned to the apartment pretending to have forgotten his cigarette case and then he started to make questions. He pretended that he wanted to have a drink, to talk and after a while that guy who wasn't too willing to kill was completely nervous and ended up confessing the murder.

The other guy who was the leader and thought that murder was supposed to be committed by a superior few also confessed the murder to the teacher and the teacher, instead of finding that wonderful, got horrified and even more shocked when he realized it was his theories that influenced they to do that and he said to the guys that he was extremely ashamed of his theories for the first time in his life, that he wasn't aware of the harm that they could cause, and then he made a sort of speech that is very interesting, that who are we to decide who is superior, who is inferior? We are not God and all lives have value and everyone deserves to live, to be happy, to work, to make their dreams come true. After this moment of tension, in order to call the attention of the police, the teacher shot by the window. At that moment, both guys, especially the one who was the leader, were coldly waiting for the police to arrive. It must be pointed out that it is not shown what will happen with the characters afterwards, but it is implied that they were arrested and punished for their crime.

It is a very interesting film, especially because it was made a few years after the end of World War II when this kind of racist and eugenic ideologies were in vogue in some groups. It is a good analysis of the perversity of human mind. The criminals were so cruel that they used the rope with which they killed the guy to tie the books they gave to the father of the guy they had just murdered. And they showed no remorse. We must also keep in mind that the other guy who was too nervous, he did not exactly show any remorse. He was nervous in fear of being caught. He was not exactly regretting what he did. He was just a little bit more fearful and more influenced by the other guy. But it was not remorse for the life he had just taken. Another point that stands out is that the murders did not call their other colleague to the party because they found the guy nice or anything. It is because the fiance of the murdered guy used to be his girlfriend before she started dating the murdered guy. Thus, the criminals kind of wanted the woman to cheat on her recently deceased fiance with her former boyfriend, which was something really sick. This film is famous for its long shots. It's one of the most experimental films by Alfred Hitchcock, and in a short period of time, the narration is shown in a very smooth way, and there's nothing lacking in the suspense. The long shots give an extra effect of the tension, because we feel as if we were by the side of all characters. So we do not feel as if we are watching, we feel as if we were there seeing everything happening. Nearly all the scenes took place inside the apartment, except for the initial scene of the film, which took place on the street. It is a remarkable example of how perverse some people can be and how their minds work. It is also important to see the danger of some weird ideologies and how they can be used as an excuse to commit the most terrible acts. It is a film that never gets old.

The Only Son (Japan, 1936)

This film talks about a poor widow and her son. At first the mother couldn't really afford the son to continue with his education. However, her son had a teacher who really encouraged her to make her son to keep on studying. But to do it, the mother would need to send her son away to Tokyo because they lived in a small city. She would need to send him to Tokyo and pay for his education, which was too much for her because it was a really poor family. However, she realized that the boys of the neighborhood were going to Tokyo to have an education and she didn't want her son to miss an opportunity, so she made all the sacrifices possible, she struggled so her son could have an education in Tokyo. Many years have passed and her son was now 27 years old and then she decided to visit him there by surprise.

And when she arrived in Tokyo, she realized that her son wasn't as successful as she imagined. At first, she was scared, not necessarily with the city, but with the neighborhood where he lived, which was really poor, and she also got to know that her son was married and had a baby son of his own. And of course she was in shock because she imagined that her son would study and be successful. And the son, he was happy to see his mother, of course, but he was extremely sad that his mom saw him in this situation. He would rather her to visit him later when he had a better financial situation.

The son’s wife was a really good person. She treated his mother as it was her own mother. She was very gentle with her. The son treated his mom wonderfully too. He tried to borrow money from other people, so he could take his mom to places. But, of course, that she couldn't disguise the fact that she was disappointed. The son talked to his mom in private and confronted her about it. And he said that he knew that she was very disappointed, that he did everything he could, that he was aware of how much she suffered to pay for his education, that he tried his best to honor all her effort. But Tokyo is a very populated and big city, competition was wild, that he wanted to be more than a night school teacher. Then the mother said that he shouldn't give up so easily, he was still young, his life was just beginning, and he shouldn't act like a coward, that he should keep on trying to improve his situation, he was still young, he had the means.

And then when they talked about the same subject again at night, his wife overheard everything and started crying. And she was feeling very bad that her mother-in-law was in this situation, sad all day long, taking care of her grandson. And then she decided to do something. She sold her kimono and gave the money to her husband so he could afford taking his mother to places, to go out with her so at least she could cheer up a little bit. And they planned to do just that. The entire family would go out, take his mother to no more corners of Tokyo. However, a boy of the neighborhood had an accident with a horse and he needed to go to the hospital.

Then the elderly mother's son took the boy to the hospital and even helped his mother with some pocket money for the expenses because his son didn't have anything serious in the accident but he broke her leg so he would need some care and it would be difficult for her because she was very poor too. After a while, when they left the hospital, the son told the mother that this event ruined all the plans that he had for today. He intended to go out with her, to do things together, but this accident, it destroyed everything. Then the mother told him that she was proud of him because when you very poor, the generosity of other people make you feel so grateful and that she knew how the neighbor felt because she was very poor too and she said that it was much better that her son had helped the neighbor than going out with her that it would be the best memory she would have from her time in Tokyo.

When they were talking about the financial situation of the son, she confessed to him that she had to sell her house to pay for his education and that she was sleeping in the dormitory of her workplace, but that he shouldn't need about her, that she doesn't care about the housing or anything. All she cares about is that he study hard and then improve his financial situation. After the mother left and returned for her city, the son told his wife that he would return to school and try to specialize to give classes to college students, so he would earn more money, because his son, his baby son, wouldn't be a baby forever and he would need money.

We can see in the beginning of the film that the elderly mother returned to her village. And when her friend asked about Tokyo and about her son, she said that Tokyo was beautiful, that her son was well, that he became a great man. So she said good things about her son, that he found a good wife. She really liked his wife very much, but we could see on her face that she was extremely sad because she thought her son would be more successful. The plot of this film is very universal because parents always want their children to have a better situation than they have. They always want the best for their children. And when they realize that their children didn't do as well as they expected of course that they feel sad.

On the other hand, she could recognize that her son was a very nice boy, who had a nice wife, a nice family, who never did anything wrong, never stole from anyone. She also saw that the teacher of her son, who also went to Tokyo, instead of still being a teacher, he was working in a restaurant frying food. So, things were very difficult for his former teacher too. So it wasn't only her son was struggling. And that competition in a big city is indeed very bad. But she had the highest expectations about her son because he was everything she had in life. And unfortunately, it wasn't as she imagined and it's a very touching film, even sad, but it's a plot that never gets old, it's delicate as Ozu's films usually are. It is one of the few Ozu’s films were his sentimentality is openly shown, in contract to most of his films, where it is more covered.