Kim Ki-duk returns with his award winning film
Arirang, the first film he has made in three
years. Kim was quite a prolific filmmaker from
South Korea until a tragic event occured on the set of
his 2008 film Dream, in which an actor nearly died
whilst filming an attempted suicide. The near
death experience of that actor, coupled with the
responsibility Kim felt towards the actor, led to a
creative breakdown of the director married with a
crippling writer's block.
Kim attempts to use the power of film to harness his
creative juices again, by looking back upon his career
whilst in his self-imposed exile and solitude.
Kim was born in 1960 and studied art in Paris before
returning to Korea to begin his career as a
screenwriter, he made his directorial debut with
Crocodile in 1996. Since then he has been lauded
by critics and developed a following on the art house
circuit thanks to films such as Spring, Summer, Fall,
Winter...and Spring (2003) and 3-Iron (2004).
Whilst the documentary form is manipulated into a form
of confessional and Alan Bennett-esque talking head
format as Kim Ki-duk talks to himself, the product
nevertheless serves as a great document about the
commitment and focus auteurs have; it may resemble
much of a rambling man yearning for calmer days when
he had more freedom and less responsibility, yet
sometimes a tragedy has to befall you for you to find
an answer to yourself.
The film may not be as beautiful as some of his
fictional work, and this is harsh to the extreme of
showing us a person who is fraught with self-doubt;
yet we cannot deny the extent to which the director
chooses to show us himself in this naked and honest
persona as he battles his inner demons.
Critics may say that such self-indulgent filmmaking
should be reserved for biographys and not grace the
silver screen; yet we should be thankful that such a
strong Korean cinematic voice as his - along with
compartriots Park Chan-wok, Oldboy and Bong Joon-ho,
The Host and Mother - that was nearly lost has at
least chosen to get behind a camera (and in front of
it) again, however slowly it may appear, he deserves
to not be rushed.
Arirang is released on Friday 8th June by Terracota
Distribution and is on limited release appearing at
the ICA in London for a week run - www.ica.org.uk.