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Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Saharial at the Terracotta Festival: Arirang

Finally! I had been hoping to see this along with a Q&A at the London Korean Film Festival last year, but it never materialised much to my disappointment. Kim Ki-duk, despite a rather misogynistic approach on occasion to his female characters on film, is one of the Korean directors whose work I really enjoy. Ever since 3 Iron had a UK release, I have begun to follow his work and whilst I still have a number to see (and buy) I always look forward to a new release.

Arirang poster

Arirang promised to be an interesting work from the start, its production occurring after a hiatus of three years and a near fatal accident on set of his last film, Dream that prompted a personal crisis and an epiphany. This documentary has him looking back over his career and philosophising over life death and the film industry; or, as those who dislike the work would have it, the film is simply a drunk man in a cabin in the mountains.

It’s easy to see why the latter description would fit, as that truly was his location. Shot and starring only himself, it was definitely an unusual piece of work to say the least, but one I really did enjoy for its humour, ideas and what I can see as a new approach.

“That’s what films are. A truth.” He states, but what truth is he showing us in this film, I wonder? Often breaking the fourth wall to just look at the audience we see him at a daily routine, making coffee, answering a mysterious knock on the door, feeding a cat, making an espresso machine, getting drunk and editing his work, singing and talking about feelings of film and growing up on a more personal level. Is it an honest self-portrait or is he a little tongue in cheek. He certainly mixes in the profound with the ridiculous and a lot of what he says is very quotable.

Terracotta Distribution has the luck to be producing the DVD of this film, so I will have more time to mull it over and see if I can get better insight into the work . I can see why it divides audiences but I like that about a film. It generates discussion and debate and one that will continue for some time I think.

Kim Ki-duk (김기덕): Arirang (아리랑) (2011) score-2score-2score-2score-2score-0

Originally posted on Saharial’s blog,

3 thoughts on “Saharial at the Terracotta Festival: Arirang

  1. Kay, I must say you were pretty generous in your rating. I just caught it at the ICA this evening. I’d give it one star. I almost walked out in boredom. The only thing that kept me going was that I knew it was reasonably short.

  2. It is one that divides audiences for sure! Its one you either love or hate, but you have to see it to make that decision. I’m sorry to hear you were bored…

    1. The only thing that was a bit of a brain-teaser was trying to guess which people he shot at the end. I can’t see him making another film in Korea after this one!

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