May 14, 2008

My Look in the Distant Future: The Motherland Is a Barren Woman

I like message films. Not because I want a filmmaker's intent to be blatantly obvious but because I get off seeing where and how a polemical artwork betrays its creator. In the North Korean agit-prop flick My Look in the Distant Future (1997), Yui Ung-yong's screenplay is supposed to be about an over-aged slacker whose lust for a revolutionary girl transforms him into a model citizen in the Communist party. In reality, the pseudo-romance is more about how becoming a zealot will rob you of your sexuality. In each stage of this derailed courtship (an offer to dance, a lakeside proposal, then another proposal in a city park), the chaste yet coy ingĂ©nue (Kim Hye-gyong) belittles her petulant suitor (Kim Myong-mun) by letting him know that he’s never done anything worth taking seriously. By the final sunlit moment, when these two go running hand-in-hand through the wheat field, it's hard to imagine this pair taking a roll in the hay. They seem infinitely more likely to pick up a guitar then burst into an oppressive teaching song about solidarity. Love doesn’t stand a chance after martyrdom takes hold. This unintended perversion of patriotism into a neutering device makes what might have felt like a dogmatic romance into an oddly touching portrait of what happens when you lead with your convictions and not with your heart. That’s not a totally bad thing mind you. But wow… being an ideological idealist doesn’t look like much fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment