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Movie of the Day – The Bow

Posted on the 07 March 2012 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

Kim Ki-duk is one of my favorite Korean Directors out there.  If you are one of the fans of the “art-house” genre of filmmkaing, Kim Ki-duk is by far and away one of the most unique visual and story telling directors around.  I have seen about half of his films before and even talked about 3-Iron a while back, but one of things that seems to grab me about his films is that while they are visually pleasing, he often says so much with so little dialogue.  It is one of things that I admire about him, the fact that his pull you in with a strong emotional connection and they characters never have to say anything.  Visually arresting films and serene, emotional acting are the hallmarks of Kim Ki-duk’s career.

A crusty old man and his teenage bride-to-be find their secluded life at sea turned upside down with the arrival of a mysterious teenage boy in The Isle director Kim Ki-duk’s quiet and contemplative drama. They’ve been together for ten years, and as the girl’s seventeenth birthday draws near so does the union of this unlikely May-December couple. Aside from his young companion, the thing in life that the old man holds dearest to his heart is his bow. Not only is the bow an effective means of warding off would-be suitors who would seek to spirit away his young shipmate, but a shamanistic fortune-telling device and a musical instrument capable of producing enchanting melodies as well. After drifting on the ocean waves together for an entire decade, this couple suddenly finds the waters becoming treacherous not by the wrath of mother nature, but the introduction of a teenage boy whose presence quickly upsets the pending wedding plans. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Kim Ki-duk excels at creating the most picturesque landscapes, beautifully framed settings and a narrative that solely rests on the actors to acts as the convalescence for the emotional story between two secluded souls.  At its heart, The Bow is an elemental story about love and seclusion, the young and old seemingly able to find a common ground and love for one another, not in the physical sense, but with a connection that is more than just being with one another.  The relationship is odd, often a but unsettling when you realize that it is about a man raising this young girl to a certain age in order to marry her.  She doesn’t know anything of the outside world and her life is that of the boat and ocean.  Their relationship is a symbiotic one, not a relationship based on the physicality we typically think of.  The young girl needs The Old Man as he needs her.  They are bound together by fate and rest their worries on the shore, sitting in the boat surrounded by the vastness of the ocean.  It is trust, the purest form of it, that is the bond between the two people.

Movie of the Day – The Bow

Their relationship is shaken, in a way that a stolen glance can lead to something more with the introduction of the young boy from shore.  The ripples in the water and turbulence signal the coming change in their world.  It’s a beautiful metaphor and visual device that shows the changing the dynamic relationship that the young girl goes through with the old man.  I don’t want to dive into the conflict too much, but the use of music, one from the bow that the old man has and the portable music player the young boy has, are used as a means to showcase a world to the young girl that she cold only imagine.  It captivates her and inspires her, but it is the source of both pain and joy.

Kim Ki-duk definitely plays up the visuals of the film.  The mirror like surface of the water reflecting the sky, erasing the barrier between heaven and earth and creating the visual that the boat they reside on is the only place on Earth.  The visuals are enough to keep even the most ADD driven movie goer engaged, but there are problems with the story which is a bit thin for Kim.  I will say that that the acting is superb with very little being said, but the physical acting carries so much emotion that you are compelled to be drawn in.

If you aren’t familiar with Kim Ki-duk’s work, this is going to be a difficult watch.  Not that you won’t be able to follow what happens, but rather his story telling method might be a bit too much and seem more like style over substance.  Frankly, I love the way he can marry the two ideals into one harmonious, art house film.


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