ON THE ART OF THE CINEMA
Because On the Art of the Cinema is allegedly based on one very long 1973 speech by future Dear Leader Kim Jung Il, the brevity of the author's biography for the 2001 edition of the book is more than a little incongruous: "Kim Jong Il (1942- ) is leader of North Korea (1994- ). Kim Jong Il succeeded his father, Kim Il Sung, who had ruled North Korea since 1948." Doesn't a world class dictator like Jong Il deserve a lengthier bio or at least an accompanying photo? But then perhaps the original North Korean edition is more elaborate. Or maybe the boring design of the book is intended to reinforce the book's no nonsense spirit of "Juche," North Korea's national ideology of grim self-reliance.
Despite the no frills book design, what impulse buyer could resist this dynamic back-cover tease:
In his preface the author states: "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 successes in all areas of art and literature is the basic principle that we must adhere to in revolutionizing art and literature."On the Art of the Cinema doesn’t really have a unifying thread, it is more or less just an endless series of non-negotiable and frequently convoluted pronouncements. Here are a few random selections:
"The task set before the cinema today is one of contributing to people’s development into true Communists... This historic task requires, above all, a revolutionary transformation of the practice of directing."
Moreover, any reader of On the Art of the Cinema unfortunate enough to have also seen NAMELESS HEROES will be painfully aware that the 'Heroes' filmmakers ignored just about every rule set forth in Jong Il's book. The film is a spectacular mess with its only redeeming quality being the curiosity factor of seeing U.S. Army defectors "acting." Contrary to erroneous citations found on the Internet, Kim Jong Il was not the director of NAMELESS HEROES.
Nowhere is it mentioned in the Dear Leader's cinema arts manifesto that if one does not have the necessary talent for filmmaking, kidnapping is an acceptable solution. But this is exactly what Jong Il did in 1978 when he had the first couple of South Korean film abducted to the hermit kingdom. First he lured the beautiful actress Choi Eun Hee to Hong Kong where she was kidnapped and placed on a ship headed to a North Korean port. Then the tyrant/movie buff had Ms. Hee's ex-husband (the couple had recently divorced), the most respected film director in South Korea, kidnapped when he followed his ex-wife's trail to Hong Kong.
The director, Shin Sang Ok (who, at this point, did not know his wife was in captivity in North Korea), attempted to escape the country by sneaking onto a freight train, but he was soon captured and sent to a prison camp. He won release after four years by apologizing in writing to Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung (Jong Il's father) and was reunited with his ex-wife. Playing cupid in a Mao jacket, Jong Il recommended that the pair re-marry and they wisely obliged the Dear Leader's whim.
Jong Il gave Shin Sang Ok a nice office, artistic freedom and lavish budgets for a number of film projects that were produced, but none stands out more than PULGASARI (1985). Shin Sang Ok produced this North Korean version of Godzilla and it must be seen to be believed. Pulgasari is a metal-eating Communist monster (with a heart of gold) who helps his 14th Century peasant friends defeat their cruel feudal masters. Clips from this extraordinarily odd epic can be seen on the io9 website.
In 1986, after giving their North Korean minders the slip while on a business trip in Vienna, Shin Sang Ok and Choi Eun Hee escaped to the American embassy. They were granted asylum and eventually returned to South Korea. Ok died in 2006 and Hee is still living. Both Ok and Hee wrote books that detail their Kafkaesque time in the hermit kingdom, but neither memoir has been translated into English.
An added bonus to On the Art of the Cinema is a "Notes" section wherein various events and terms used in the book are defined from a uniquely North Korean perspective. For instance, the Korean War is dubbed "The Fatherland Liberation War." It should not surprise anyone that the war is described as one in which the "(North) Korean people inflicted an ignominious defeat upon the U.S. imperialists and their stooges."
As of this posting Kim Jong Il's bizarre film tome rates three stars on Amazon (only half a star less than Syd Field's 'Screenplay'). The Dear Leader's equally insane take on opera, On the Art of the Opera, fares better with five stars.
ON THE ART OF THE CINEMA
By Kim Jong Il
Copyright 2001; Published by University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii
From an April 11, 1973 speech
[ 0 | COMMENTS | - ]
CATEGORY: Film Studies
RELATED TITLES: APOCALYPSE MOVIES: End of the World Cinema
ATOMIC BOMB CINEMA
DEATH ON THE CHEAP: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir!
TECHNORATI TAGS:ATOMIC CULTURE
|© 1999-2008 CONELRAD.COM|
CONELRAD | ATOMIC SECRETS | CONELRAD 100 | ATOMIC MUSIC | MUTATED TV | SITE MAP | ABOUT US