Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hanyo / The Housemaid (1960)

KR 1960. PC: Korean Literature Films, Kim Ki-young Productions. EX: Ahn Hwa-young D: Kim Ki-young. SC: Kim Ki-young. DP: Kim Deok-jin – b&w – 1,55:1. AD: Park Seok-in. M: Han Sang-ki. ED: Kim Ki-young. Cast: Lee Eun-sim (Oh Myeong-sook, the housemaid), Joo Jeung-nyu (Dong-shik's wife), Kim Jin-kyu (Dong-shik, music teacher), Um Aing-ran (Cho Gyeong-hee, factory worker), Lak Ok-joo (factory worker), Go Seon-ae. 111 min. Restored in 2008 by the Korean Film Archive and World Cinema Foundation, digital restoration at HFR laboratory (Soul). A KOFA print of the restored version with e-subtitles in English viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Cinema in South Korea), 2 Nov 2010.

My first encounter with Kim Ki-young. It's a wild and crazy film based on nightmare logic. There is the music teacher's family and its house where a housemaid is needed. There is the music teacher's song class at the factory where girls are infatuated with him. "Don't stand so close to me", but although the teacher is firm, and because he is, he becomes the target of a diabolical revenge plot. Kim Ki-young favours powerful camera movement, striking editing, and fervent music. Kim Ki-young's touch is original, and some aspects resemble Roman Polanski and 1950s and 1960s European pulp crime fiction. Perhaps the film is slightly too long. The restoration has been executed from demanding source materials, including reels that had high hand-written subtitles which have been digitally removed, and those strange sections contribute an added surrealistic effect. The print is clean and intact but in our screening there was a problem with contrast (a reflection from the film projector or the subtitling projector).

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