Books Magazine

Kim Jong-Il: Greatest Filmmaker Of Our Time?

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

You know whom I turn to when I want to know about the art of moviemaking?

Well, none other than Kim Jong-il, the late North Korean dictator.

Back in 1973, before he was a tyrannical dictator who tortured his people, disposed of the ones unfortunate to be born handicapped, and routinely threatened nuclear war, “The Dear Leader” wrote a book called On the Art of Cinema. It’s an actual book. With words.

Apparently, he was North Korea’s “culture minister” at the time—a post given to him by his father, the founding prime dictator, Kim Il-Sung. The little guy, Kim-Jong-il, was a movie buff who owned a vault of 15,000 films.

One chapter of his book is titled, “A Film Without Music is Incomplete.”  Riveting stuff, this book. 

With a chapter title like that, does anyone think he ghostwrote The Sot-Weed Factor? Or remember the book from the A Dance To The Music of Time series called “Books Do Furnish A Room.” Terrible.

The Amazon blurb about On The Art of Cinema sounds about as riveting as the book’s title itself:

The cinema is now one of the main objects on which efforts should be concentrated in order to conduct the revolution in art and literature. The cinema occupies an important place in the overall development of art and literature. As such it is a powerful ideological weapon for the revolution and construction. Therefore, concentrating efforts on the cinema, making breakthroughs and following up success in all areas of art and literature is the basic principle that we must adhere to in revolutionizing art and literature.”

I have a hard time believing anyone has actually read this book. From reading the 9 reviews on Amazon, I’m doubting even the reviewers read the book.

Playing off my post last week about one-star Amazon reviews, I thought this was another hilarious review of Kim’s book:

First off, I’m a huge fan of Mr. Jung’s work.

“Let’s Work On Doubling the Output of the Red Harvest Tractor Factory #8!!!!” was a beautiful little film, all four hours of it. Great rainy day treat, if your work militia collectively owns a dvd player.

This book gets a little heavy on theory however, which is a missed opportunity in my opinion. While Jung’s theory on extracting socially realistic acting from kidnapped Japanese soap opera stars was helpful in my latest project, Jung’s technical work is so stunning that this book is merely a footnote to an awesome contribution to world cinema, if by world cinema you mean North Korean cinema.

My guess is that if anyone bought this from Amazon, along with Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the NSA has them on some type of watch list.

I think I’ll pass on Mr. Kim’s riveting book about cinema.

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