1955. Directed by Park Nam-ok , starring Lee Min-ja, Tackyun, Choi Nam-hyun, Yu Gye-seon, Na Ae-sim , 75 mins.
The Widow belongs to a different world. The fact that Park Nam-ok’s intimate, hand-crafted contribution is now more highly regarded than most films of the mid-1950s – and that despite a lost ending – is due to both the down-to-earth treatment of one contemporary widow’s life and to aspects of a ‘primitive’ style. Park was the first woman director to produce a feature film, and she seems to have managed it at times with a baby on her back.
The widow Min-ja is one of many thousands of Korea War widows. She refuses to follow the Confucian codes and remain ever loyal to her husband’s memory; she meets a young man and she wants him. Neither does she immolate her desires in the role of mother: she parks her daughter in the countryside when the little girl threatens to antagonise the boyfriend. Park Nam-ok’s story resists the pull of melodrama. Her style of shooting can seem uncertain, but consider the scene of Min-ja getting dressed to go out. We watch Min-ja watching herself in the mirror, guided by a director’s female gaze. A rare hint of a way of filming not to be recovered for a long, long time.
Regent Street Cinema, 06 Nov 16 11:30 am
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