Seven ways in which Hill of Freedom is different from other Hong Sang-soo films

… and some ways in which it isn’t.

Hill of Freedom (자유의 언덕) is Hong Sang-soo’s 16th feature, and could not have been made by anyother director. The awkwardness of human interaction and conversation, the bonding over alcohol, the fragmentation of the narrative, the aim to rekindle lost love – all are common features of a Hong Sang-soo movie. But yet, Hill of Freedom is not like all the other Hong Sang-soo movies. Here are some not too subtle ways in which it is different.

Hill of Freedom: Wine, not Soju
Hill of Freedom: Wine, not soju
  1. The characters drink predominantly wine rather than soju
  2. Because the dialogue is mainly in English, it’s more accessible to a London Film Festival audience than the average Hong Sang-soo movie. Accordingly, it’s the first Hong Sang-soo film I’ve been to in which the Western audience is laughing.
  3. Unlike In Another Country, when non-native English speakers speak English they actually sound as if they understand what they are saying.
  4. There’s no unsexy sex. In fact, the bedroom scenes – the post-coital or morning-after cuddle and chat – are really rather comfortable.
  5. The fragmented storyline is somehow more approachable than Hong’s other plots. In fact, it almost doesn’t show that the scenes are jumbled like the pages of Mori’s letters. It’s pretty much comprehensible as it is. But the fact that you know that the scenes are jumbled makes you want to go back and see if you can reassemble them in the right order.
  6. I might have missed it (I did – see below), but I don’t think any of the characters worked in the film industry. Mori gets mistaken for an artist because of the way he looks, but that’s as far as it goes.

    and, most of all,

  7. It’s a film I’d re-watch instantly.

Update re #6 above: Israel of Koreaffinity points out (as does alua of Otherwhere – see comment section below) that Yeong-seon’s boyfriend is scriptwriter and producer. So I have to qualify my statement and say that none of the major characters is in the film industry.

Read alua’s rather more professional and considered comments about the movie here.

3 thoughts on “Seven ways in which Hill of Freedom is different from other Hong Sang-soo films

  1. Kase Ryo definitely understood what he was saying, as I told you, he lived in the US for the first seven years of his life.

    I actually thought the bedroom scenes were super-awkward (esp. the kissing)! Like the most awkward scenes of them all. Including the conversation.

    I though the boyfriend was a producer for a play? I may be wrong.

    I’m still wondering about the ring.

    You’re so funny, Philip. (#7!)

  2. Hmm. Well, in comparison to all his other bedroom scenes, these feel normal (maybe I’m just unlucky ^_^). Do give Adam’s essay a read if you have time (linked above).

  3. More professional…. jejeje, not really, but thank you.

    Actually, it is a play the boyfriend produced. The “Book” clip that I linked with my review specifies that. Not sure if there is any other scene that reveals that he also produces films or TV projects, but if he just produces plays, I wouldn’t say he’s in the film industry!

    Adam’s essay looks interesting (just skimmed it), but I’m saving it because it looks like it could spoil the fun if I watch more of Hong Sang-soo’s films (I want to go into them blind).

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