Friday, October 25, 2013

The Other Side of the Mountain (2012) KAFFNY 2013

A collaboration between North Korea and America has resulted in a throwback romance of the sort they don't make any more. Seriously this film feels as if it belongs to the 1950's or 60's rather than 2012.  It's also an intriguing look at the Korean War from the Northern perspective.

Memory tale story follows tells the story of Il Gyu Ri, a South Korean citizen who had been pulled off the streets by the government and forcible conscripted into the army. This was in the days just before the war and the Southern government wanted to be sure it had a proper army. During a battle in North Korea he is separated from his unit and sees the atrocities that had been committed.  He walks away from the army, eventually being taken in by a nurse and her father after he is injured. The pair falls in love, but he is forced to go south, promising to return soon. Circumstance keeps them apart as he is thrown in prison and is forced to move to Denmark. If he can ever manage to get back to the love of his life or will it to be too late?

As I said at the top this is a complete change of mind set film seeming to come from another time all together,its very much a film that you will have to meet head on and take on it's own terms. If you can manage to meet it half way I think you'll have a good time, I know I did.

The film is very much an old school romance of the story of separated lovers. Actually a majority of the film is the romance with the last say 35 minutes being the pair trying to get back together. This is the sort of thing that old Hollywood would have done (I kept casting it and recasting it with stars of the 1950's). It very much reminded me of some Japanese film from the 1950's that I had seen many many years ago that had the same sort of lost lovers in  a similar Technicolor world.

There are some things that clearly were forced upon the production, the propaganda and the out of place musical numbers being chief among them. Yes there are a couple of songs in the film, including a final one with everyone standing on a hill singing about the day the countries will be unified. The propaganda is rampant with the South Korean army being portrayed in a bad light (the evil men who grabbed our hero) and the South Korea in general having the run down look we in the West assume is the North.

I liked the film a great deal.

I have to thank the programmers at The Korean American Film Festival New York for putting this film forward. I say this because this is a film that I never would have seen had it not been for the festival.

Definitely recommended when the film plays tomorrow night to close out the festival.

Details and tickets can be found here.

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