June 25, 2019

Hurrah! for Freedom: A Fragment of Liberation

Gertrude Stein once said that she enjoyed the beginnings of movies but lost interest once she could figure out the plots. I understand her viewpoint. Somewhat related, I'm a big fan of movies with missing footage. I enjoy being left in mid-air by a truncated flick, films like The Widow and Yangsan Province, historic works which end not where the director planned but where the footage comes to an end. Sometimes, there's something less pat and more real about stories that are inconclusive, accidentally or not. It's as if we'd suddenly turned our heads away from the action then discovered that all of the players had left, thereby leaving us to come up with our own conclusions and narratives. Such is the case with Choi In-kyu's Hurrah! for Freedom which not only ends in the middle of the action but periodically jumps around as if some internal footage had also disappeared.

What we know in Hurrah! for Freedom is that the Korean resistance is committed to rioting as a way to combat Japanese occupation and people from all walks of life are getting involved: mothers, nurses, lovers... At times, Hurrah! for Freedom can recall the Italian Neo-realists with its intense-faced men and low-gloss interiors; other times, the style feels almost French New Wave like the highly stylized cuts that happen between a guard and a hospital patient. Vignettes of a woman breaking up a fight between two boys only to get a mud-ball thrown at her back and a man caressing another man's face in a homoerotic manner pull you in as well. This film may also be known as Viva Freedom, but I couldn't resist Hurrah!

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