Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bergman and Kim-Ki-Duk

In the past few days we saw a couple of movies: Bergman’s “Fanny and Alexander” and Kim-Ki-Duk’s “Address Unknown”. They share many different characteristics. They are products of highly famous Film Directors. They are beautifully shot. They are both able to either make you cry, shy away, or get mad. My case is the latter one. I think both films also share another central characteristic: they lost their sense of their own limits after the first forty minutes. I call this last feature “arrogance”, and I will not defend this practice here for matters of space.

Suffice it to say that both movies are boundless. Bergman’s is a fairly recent piece where he never, ever, stops making use of the same resources. Take Bergmann’s thesis that human beings are all actors, since they are all Personas, and we already know (thanks to him) that Personas are actors. This is an interesting claim of Bergmann’s, not an original claim of his, though, but an interesting one. It was good enough for him to make “Persona”. But why does he keep bringing it up once again? In “Fanny and Alexander” he takes a bit more than three hours (with a film-made intermission, I must say) to let you know that we are all Hamlet, or not. The same thing goes on and on, anguish, courage, control, and desperateness. Now we even have a bishop explicitly claiming that he has one mask only, that he cannot take off. Interesting claim, as I said, but we do not need three hours of the same thing over and over again. For two reasons: we are not stupid, and we get fed up. That’s how this boundlessness becomes arrogance. When the director does not realize where is the limit to what he can say, and even worse, he does not even realize there is a limit.

Kim-Ki-Duk’s is fairly similar. Unlike Bergman’s we are not dealing with Personas, nor actors, but misery: boundless misery. From the very first shot until the very last one, Kim-Ki-Duk is not shy to deliver “exactly the same miserable content”. The movie starts with a kid carving out a toy gun from an empty wooden box. He adds a metal cylinder, a few straps, and gun pellet. He then goes on to try his toy by shooting at an empty can placed above his sister’s head. The shot goes wrong and hits her eye. For the rest of the movie (except for a few very miserable moments) the girl looses that eye. Nice beginning! The movie ends up with a soldier finding a letter that was lost by someone else. The letter came too late to save a woman and her kid. The woman kills herself by burning the bus where she used to live. What goes in between these two pieces of story just is the same. This is really, “really”, disturbing and in a bad way. As with Bergman, one should say that Kim-Ki-Duk does not even realize there is a limit. Like Bergman and his Persona, Kim-Ki-Duk seems to be screaming every five minutes, while hammering his fist on the table, “Human Life is Miserable!”, “Human Life is Miserable!”, “Human Life is Miserable!”. We heard pretty well the very first time Sir. We were watching the movie. Remember?

And all this, just because I love to watch movies.