Lee Chang Dong is considered to be one of Korea’s top directors in the reform era. At the age of 43, he really became a director and so far has only 6 cinematographic works including Green Fish (1997), Peppermint Candy (1999), Oasis (2002), Secret Sunshine (2007), Poetry (2010) and most recently a work for the Palme d’Or – Burning (2018). However, those 6 works have never let critics and audiences down. His films are not colorful or stylish, but faithfully portray the dark corners of contemporary Korean society.
Thanks to the simple, delicate story but powerful message, and the great acting of veteran actress Yun Jeong Hie as Mija, Poetry has won many great awards such as Best Screenplay at Cannes Film Festival 2010 , Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director award at the 8th Korea Film Awards.
Poetry opens with a slow flowing stream of water, children playing by a riverbank and shortly thereafter the corpse of a young girl floats. The journey to find the cause of the girl’s death leads to the gentle 60-year-old Mija. She has a special inspiration for poetry but suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and torment when her nephew indirectly causes the death of a young girl at school with the compensation of 5 million won that the Mija family can’t afford it.
The main character in the movie is Mija – an elegant woman, according to the paralyzed old man’s daughter Mija helps. She is always well-dressed, talking in a charming tone with elegant gestures. She is a beauty lover, she wants to be beautiful herself and always searches for beauty in the world around her.
However, beauty doesn’t necessarily have to be glamorous glitter. The beauty in the concept of each person is shown very differently. In a poetry class, when it comes to the best moment in your life that makes you the happiest, someone says it was when their first child was born. Some people are immersed in what they consider to be beautiful, even though it is a sinful love. And although that love brings them pain, it can lead them to death, but for them it is still very beautiful …
The most important thing in life is observation. Man lives by observing all things. Mija started to try and observe everything and write it down in his small notebook. On the first day, she concluded: “Apples to eat, not to see”. She sat for hours observing the tree in front of the house “to see it clearly, to feel it, to understand it and hear what it says”, … But in the end there was nothing. Of course, if just observing is not enough, the artist must be able to let his soul and feelings into poetry. Because Mija hasn’t put her moods and feelings into things, Mija can’t write poems as she wants.
When she heard that her nephew was related to the death of the girl from the same school that Wook attended, she was shocked and heartbroken. Looking at the cockroaches on the roadside, she saw that they were as crimson as blood. Their red color is not a symbol of a girl’s virginity, a “shield” to protect the young girl. When that shield is lost, the protection is no more, all will weaken and lead to death. Mija really conveys her pain through this image.
In the poetry class, the teacher once said to Mija: “Everyone carries a soul of poetry in them, but you are keeping it …”. Upon hearing this, Mija asked: “When will the new poetic inspiration come?” This is repeated over and over again from the beginning to the end of the film and forms a knot until Mija has written a poem.
Poetic inspiration does not come naturally but the poet must find it himself. Because of that, Mija has gone to many places to find poetic inspiration. On Wook’s schoolyard, she sat listening to the birds singing and recording: “Bird singing. What are they singing? ”. Is that also the question in Mija’s heart. She did not understand what Wook thought. She still loves and cares about Wook, but she also feels compassion for the girl who was harmed and her family as well. What Wook did made her fall into a dead end.
According to Wook’s friends’ fathers, Mija made her way to the victim’s house so that she could persuade her mother to agree to the agreement. On the way to where her mother worked, Mija saw that the apricots fell from the ground and recorded in a small book: “The apricots fell on the ground, crushed and crushed to await a new life” . Mija also said these things to her mother. She believed that it was like the poor woman’s daughter’s life. The girl committed suicide and died just waiting for another beautiful and perfect life. The zinnian garden daisies growing around the apricot trees fell to the ground like apology heads for her grandmother and those of her grandchildren and parents in front of the girl’s grave. Mija indeed went and met many images, honestly dropping his mood into it to be able to feel such beautiful things.
When asked about the happiest moment in life, some are childbirth, others are happy in love, others are happy to buy a private house after 20 years in the mines, but Mija is completely different, the feeling of her happiest moment is also very simple and special, she is happiest when she becomes aware of life, when she knows the voice of her sister calling her and recognizes her. so pretty in a beautiful dress. Is there anything as happy as the moment we know how to feel life, if we do not know how to feel life, can all the subsequent happy joys come to us? Even in the way Mija’s questioning and answering questions showed that she was a very delicate person, different from the other students in the class.
Leaving aside everything related to discussing whether Mija’s treatment was right or wrong when handling the situation in that direction. We will only discuss how those events impacted the soul of her artist. Whether in her poetry class, or in her neighborhood, she doesn’t have a friend, even the nephew who plays badminton with her grandmother in front of the yard can leave when his friend calls, the nephew knows he caused What guilt, but not an explanation to her did not feel guilty at all. The distant girl, whom she considered a “best friend”, could not tell the truth about her grandchild’s sins. Perhaps, in this movie, Mija is a lonely old man, a lonely artist, in her poem does not mention grandchildren or daughter, but all in the end haunting her is still a picture. photo of a young girl committing suicide.
After all, the waves of life affect the artists’ works, each artist chooses its own ways to deal with life and instill tone in his works. Mija is a true artist as she lives up to her feelings. The most important thing for an artist is emotions, without emotions we will not create any works. Mija is a passionate artist. In this film, the main character is already an artist to convey the message to the audience, but that character is also the artist in the film, namely a poet with a sensitive soul. Creating an artist’s character to convey the artist’s thoughts as well as the artistic message is an extremely intelligent and accurate way, Mija is an amateur poet who has helped viewers understand more about ” poetry ”in particular and poetry in general.
The beginning of the movie was terrifying contrasting images, on the banks of a river with smooth water, light sunshine, with children playing, then from afar came the body of a young girl floating on top. river surface. That image immediately has a strong impact on the eyesight of the viewer, and at the same time brings them into the emotional circuit of the film quickly.
The director has put the film in a series of contradictory settings between nature and human. The opposite always creates a deeper effect than what the harmony is about. Our main character has a more brilliant appearance than the elderly of the same age, but has a bleak life, no partner, spoiled grandchildren, daughter living away from home, the old man with a catastrophe. having to come to help every week is also contemptuous of her without any respect, his daughter at the grocery store is not very kind when she does not care about her, or her father. The same goes for a son who is friends with Wook, although he is willing to bring a car to pick up the old woman many times, but is not willing to help when she cannot pay 5 million yen. Mija always loves life and wishes for good things, but no one around her loves her and her company. Not having a friend and the fact that the main character is often standing in the middle of nature makes our main character lonely and small.
The film has a deep real value, which is a strong condemnation of the running of sentences and suicide among young people in today’s society in Korea. If Mija feels sorry for the dead girl’s family, the remaining 5 fathers will be very indifferent and consider taking the money as a compensation for their son’s irreparable sins. The film exposes the innocent face and emotionless of people in modern social life. Money represents the level of people and is a tool to solve all problems. Not only are the 5 fathers like that, but the old man with a stroke, too, he has the conditions to pay more tips for Mija, but never once looked at her with respect. He wanted her to help him “get back to life as a man”, and when he gave her 5 million yen, it was still a look of contempt for her and considered her a cheap kind of money without concern. For Mija to make money, to maintain personality and money to be a legitimate sweat, for all the supporting characters around, money is a tool and love is something that is not necessarily a luxury. with them. The nephew, although knowing that the frail old woman is suffering and nurturing him, keeps playing music all night, going to play video games with his friends and eating luxury dishes such as pizza, regardless of what his grandmother went through. The phenomenon of insensitivity in Korean society is an alarming situation and director Lee Chang Dong is one of the people who ring the alarm bell.
Those who come to the poetry writing class with the desire to become amateurs are initially interested and carefully listened to the teacher’s words, but never contemplated whether the teachings were appropriate for them and finished the course. they also have no sense of need to compose a poem to make it worth their study time. Everyone laughed and enjoyed the poem written by a poet about obscene things, but no one thought that poetry writing needed a certain literary aesthetic, only Mija could speak his own mind.
The film was filmed in the cool, sunny summer weather, the trees and birds were fresh, but the people were in decline and lack of emotion. Mija loves flowers, she also understands their meaning, but the doctor in the clinic put a fake flower pot by the doorway without knowing the meaning of the flowers is suffering. Nature contrasts completely with human beings, it is completely worthy when Lee Chang Dong received the award for best director for “Poetry”. The artistic details that he gave to the film are not too fussy, the simple angles that are sometimes deliberately repeated can completely set up an excellent artistic “Poetry”.
The strongest point in Poetry is a simple, subtle but equally powerful story and great acting by veteran actress Yun Jeong Hie. The rhythm of the film is slow, sometimes somewhat bland like a poem without ending, creating a very unique feature for Poetry. The film deserves to be in its correct position, in the hearts of fans forever.