‘Ode to My Father’ is an important reminder that sentimental, manipulative mainstream cinema isn’t just our thing

Posted on June 7, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/korean-film-ode-to-my-father-is-an-important-reminder-that-manipulative-mainstream-cinema-just-isnt-our-thing-6772451.html

You should watch Ode to My Father, the 2014 South Korean melodrama which is the basis of the Salman Khan-starrer, Bharat. When we talk about films from other countries, there’s usually a strain of “Look, even <insert name of country> makes such great films. But we keep making masala movies.” Well, Ode to My Father is a timely reminder that the foreign films at the major festivals are only one side of the coin. Not every South Korean filmmaker is a Park Chan-wook, a Lee Chang-dong, a Kim Ki-duk, a Bong Joon-ho. Some of them, like (Ode to My Father director) Yoon Je-kyoon, are just their versions of Ali Abbas Zafar, detested by critics but embraced wholeheartedly by audiences. The Korean culture critic Chin Jung-kwon called Ode to My Father “a low-class tearjerker”. It’s currently the fourth highest-grossing film in South Korean cinema history.

You should watch Ode to My Father because it will give you pause the next time you accuse our mainstream cinema of being too sentimental, or emotionally manipulative. Take the opening stretch, which details the separation of a family during the Korean War: as a boy, the protagonist lets go of his sister’s hand, and loses both the sister and their father, who goes looking for her. This drama plays out against the backdrop of the Hungnam Evacuation of 1950, where thousands of commoners in what would come to be called North Korea are whisked away to the south by the US Navy. Look at the background score. As the boy, the protagonist, walks towards the sea, we hear a mournful cello, and when the camera whips around and shows us the American ships, the percussion shatters our ears. Every step of the way, we are being instructed how to feel. (“Like in our movies,” I might add.)

Continued at the link above.

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