(The Day A Pig Fell Into The Well)
Dir: Hong Sang-soo
115 min., 35mm, 1:1.85, Color
Produktion: Dong-A Export Co. Ltd. Buch: Koo Hyo-seo. Kamera: Cho Dong-kwan. Ausstattung: Cho Yoong-sam. Kostüme: Kwun Jung Hyun. Musik: Ok Kil-sung. Schnitt: Park Gok-ji. Produzent: Lee Woo-seok.
Darsteller: Kim Eui-sung (Hyo-sop), Lee Eung-kyung (Bo-gyung), Cho Eun-sook (Min-jae), Park Jin-sung (Tong-woo).
Uraufführung: 4. Mai 1996, Seoul.
Weltvertrieb: Dong-A Export Co., Ltd., 814-6 Dong-A Bldg., Yeoksam-dong, Kangnam-ku, Seoul, Korea 135-080 Seocho, P.O. Box 166, Tel.: (82-2) 3451 4735, Fax: (82-2) 273 0131.
Sat 15.02. 13:30 Kino 7 im Zoo Palast Sat 15.02. 21:30 Delphi Sun 16.02. 12:30 Arsenal Mon 17.02. 22:15 Akademie der Künste
Seoul, Korea 1996. Hyo-sop, a novelist of little promise, loves Bo-gyung, a married woman. Min-jae, a box-office girl at a movie theatre, loves Hyo-sop. She works at other odd jobs to support Hyo-sop, whom she considers to be a great writer. Bo-gyung is married to Tong-woo but loves Hyo-sop whom she accepts as a novelist of little promise. Tong-woo works for a water-purifier company and appears successful. He is suspicious of his wife's fidelity.
The film follows each of the four characters and their everyday lives full of the mundane and the banal.
I am not a story-teller. A so-called story has its characters fixed, at least to some degree. I, on the other hand, stress the attitudes of the characters. Given a situation, characters assume various attitudes and those combined with my own, make my film. This, I think, is also the theme of my film.
Director Hong Sang-soo asked four script-writers to write a day in the life of each of the four characters in the film. Acting as detectives, each writer imagined following a character through Seoul. Hong then brought together the separate stories and wove them into a tight and cohesive narrative structure that is the film.
When shooting, director Hong improvised 90 % of the dialogue with his cast. The result is a film that is almost pure in its realism but expert in narrative development.
The well in which the pig drowns is an apt metaphor for the city of Seoul in 1996. Since the early 1960s, the capital city of Korea and its residents have been stifled by three decades of military dictatorship. During the 1980s when the major characters of the film with the excecption of Min-jae attended college, violent student demonstrations filled the city's streets and the odor of tear gas was an almost daily fact of life in Seoul. Like the students who stormed through the streets of Paris in 1968 and throughout the United States in the 1960s, these characters belong to that generation of Koreans who believed in social change and dedicated their youth to various social causes rather than to attaining individual fulfillment through material comforts.
With the inauguration of the so-called civilian government at the beginning of the 1990s that coincided with the opening of the 10.000 GNP per capita-era, Seoul began to undergo rapid transformations. As people began to be much more attentive to their own personal well-being, the commonly shared dream of a democratic society proved futile. The individualistic drive, which had been more easily tempered in an earlier era of political repression and economic poverty, has become a peculiarly overwhelming phenomenon in Korean society. Such a marked shift has left the 1980s generation especially disillusioned and displaced. Although their views and actions in the 1980s were widely acknowledged if not respected, these thirty-something activists and intellectuals are now often perceived as an older generation stubbornly clinging on to good-for-no-thing ideologies.
The characters in the film represent a sample of several different types of individuals who have had to live out these tumultuous social conditions. Faced with the sudden realization of the impossibility of their youthful hopes and dreams, they now live from one day to the next in deadeningly routine fashion, guided by only their personal longing and self-interest.
Hyo-sop could have been a student activist in college, who pursued a noble literary career as an earnest and promising young writer. Back in the 1980's the reading public appreciated or at least pretended to be able to discern the real authors from the phony ones, and writers could take some measure of pride in themselves and their work regardless of how many books they could sell. But in the 1990s, Hyo-sop, the writer, must endure various frustrations and humiliations that repeatedly test his sense of self.
Po-gyung also bears witness to the changes in Seoul and its people. Married to a husband she cannot love, she willingly trangresses the traditional Korean morality that places great significance on woman's fidelity and chastity to have an illicit affair with Hyo-sop. Although she does not feel guilty about her adultery, she inexplicably chooses to stay in her cold and loveless marriage.
In its detailed depiction of humdrum everyday affairs that occur in constantly shifting locations, THE DAY A PIG FELL INTO A WELL suggests almost a sociological report on what it is like to be living in Seoul in 1996. Rather than a single story line focused on the one central character, the film proceeds along four different yet interrelated strands. By shooting the film mostly under natural light with the camera positioned on eye-level, the director intended to document on screen the incongruous and shabby surface details of present-day life in Seoul. In thus making the viewer adopt the perspective of one who also physically inhabits these urban situations, the film reflects an unsettling vision of everyday life in Seoul as the familiar and routine take on an increasingly unfamiliar and terrifying edge.
THE DAY A PIG FELL INTO A WELL is a work of art that shatters former conventions and expectations of Korean cinema. The film subverts genre and establishes a new style and method of filmmaking for Korean cinema. The film offers no judgement and preaches no explicit morals. The exploration of real human emotions and dilemmas is itself, however, a questioning of life and the self and morality.
Acclaimed by some Seoul critics as the first best feature ever made by a Korean director, Hong Sang-soo's film has no obvious roots in earlier Korean cinema. It opens as a series of apparently unconnected sketches of individuals in present-day Seoul, and reveals only gradually how these lives are, in fact, inter-connected. The acting is 100% naturalistic, and the shooting and cutting style is cooly modernist. If it had been made in Taiwan, you'd have guessed that Edward Yang had something to do with it. (..)
It all adds up to a spot-section of urban society in 1996: the feelings, frustrations, angers, passions and fears of young, middle-class adults. It's often wryly funny, and it's always devastatingly accurate. Tony Rayns
Hong Sang-soo was born in Seoul in 1961 and studied film at Chungang University in Seoul and the California College of Arts and Crafts. He also studied experimental filmmaking at the School of Art Institute in Chicago.
Upon returning to Korea, Hong worked in television and directed Writers and their Bestsellers for the Seoul Broadcasting Station (SBS), which won the Korean Broadcast Award for best commissioned work. Hong currently teaches film at Hanyang University, Seoul.
THE DAY A PIG FELL INTO A WELL is Hong Sang-soo's first feature film. He has started working on the script for his second feature film.
© 1997 by International Forum of New Cinema. All rights reserved.