This spring I had the pleasure of doing a private lesson with a professor at my university. Her goal is to teach Korean culture through movies in English at our university. Every week she would recommend a movie to me and the next week we would get together to discuss it. She recommended some really great films, but my favorite one was probably Poetry.
, the famous Gwangju native Yoon Jong Hee
, plays a grandmother and house cleaner struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and with a grandson who is trying to forget about his involvement in a classmate’s suicide. Meanwhile, she is in enrolled in a poetry writing class. In the fast-paced Korean culture, she slows down and searches for poetic inspiration in what seems like an escape from her reality or maybe as a symptom of the onset of her disease. Watching Yoon look for poetry make for some of the movie’s most endearing scenes.
The real discovery for me with this film was the writer and director, Lee Chang-dong. He’s from Daegu and has had an amazing career of which I was mostly unaware. He began as a novelist, moved to film and served as the Minister of Culture.
Lee’s films takes on Korea’s culture in a way that challenges some of the norms and accentuates some of it’s beauty. Korea is a complicated place and Lee has the gift of seeing it through the eyes of both a native son and an outsider. His films are filled with compelling scenes and beautiful frames.
|Poetry is available on iTunes with subtitles.
I highly recommend this to people who want to catch a glimpse of Korean society and also to people that just love movies. This one is a winner.