Chunhyang | Chicago Reader

Chunhyang

A lyrically dazzling work by South Korean filmmaker Im Kwon-taek, whose visual imagination, deft storytelling, and sumptuous period detail transform familiar material into high art. Set in the late 18th century, the film traces the unbreakable love between the son of a provincial governor and the title character, whose mother is a dignified prostitute. After the young man accompanies his father to Seoul, Chunhyang spurns the advances of the brutal new governor, and he orders his guards to attack and imprison her. The movie is framed by the beautifully sung narration of a pansori (a traditional Korean storyteller) accompanied by drums, and the musical numbers throughout—about longing, regret, and ambition—allow an intimate, graceful shading of character that plays well against the movie's grand scale. Chunhyang succeeds on many levels—as a mood piece, as a formal achievement, and as a blistering critique on the subjugation of women. In Korean with subtitles. 120 min.

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