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Breath (Ki-duk Kim) [2007]

Kim Ki-duk’s new film Breath (aka Soom) opened at Cannes this year. Hooray!

Cannes, France- South Korean director Kim Ki-duk cuts to the chase in his riveting movie Breath, a tale of what can result from spousal infidelity, which screened Saturday in competition for the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. What else was to be expected from a director whose movie only took nine days to shoot?

Breath (Soom) depicts what Yeon, played by South Korean actor Zia, does on discovering that her husband is having an affair.

Any other woman in that situation would probably have confronted him, but she heads straight for a high security prison nearby.

There she meets a condemned criminal, Jin, played by Taiwan actor Chang Chen, who has tried to kill himself several times already. She begins a relationship with him not out of spite, but out of love.

The film relies on a minimum of dialogue to tell the story, mostly light airy stills, and employs the frivolities instead in the pictures. Some of the surprises that await both Jin and the cinemagoer when Yeon visits are in yellows, blues and pink flowers.

Speaking to reporters Sat Kim Ki-duk said: "The film highlights the lack of communication in Korean society. I have difficulties with that and I wanted to show a different type of cinematic image and to express the inexpressible even if it seems impossible"

The movie Breath takes a soft, fan-friendly tone, downplaying raw violence characteristic of Kim’s other films. Instead, it shows an underlying theme of hatred, love, jealousy and forgiveness.

The short film shoot compared to nine months for a commercial film that usually costs an average of 3 billion won to 5 billion won (3.2 to 5.4 million dollars) per film.

Kim said earlier he spent only 370 million won, including 100 million from his own pocket.

At present, he preferred to continue on this course and film in Korea, as big budget films offered less freedom especially with Western involvement, he said Saturday.

In reference to Chinese director Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights, which was filmed in the United States and is also running in competition, Kim Ki-duk said: "I would like to know the advantages of that."

Asked about a law limiting the number of film productions which comes into effect in June 2007, Kim Ki-duk said:

“I expect tougher competition in future and the battle will be individual,” adding: "Last year all Korean directors struggled against this and protested last year in Cannes about it."

Most big filmmakers are losing money and there is a painful downsizing underway in the South Korean film industry, as it has overgrown its home base.

Around 10,000 people are employed in the local industry despite a need of just 2,500 staff, experts say. If investors paid 440 billion won into films in 2006, they must have lost at least 100 billion won, they said.

Hopefully, South Korean directors will still be able to produce such enjoyable movies as Breath.

Courtesy of EarthTimes

Time (although good) was a step back on Kim’s career, hopefylly this will return him to form.

I’m glad to report that Kim’s new film is a step up from the melodramatic Time. While not quite up to his best days Kim has mostly abandoned the crowd pleasing elements and put the aim back on silent obsession. The storyline is about a married woman who starts casual meetings with a death row prisoner (Chang Chen) who may or may not be her old boyfriend as she tells people.