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The Classic

Some of you may have read this review already in the Varied Celluloid-Forum, but I decided to post it up here, too. I hope no one puts up resistance . . .

THE CLASSIC (Korea, 2003)

(Watched on the Hong-Kong DVD)

Regie: Jae-young Kwak

Darsteller: Ye-jin Son, In-seong Jo, Seung-woo Cho

Shy Ji-Hae is writing E-Mails for her best friend who fell in love with a director working on the College-Theater. Ji-Hae has set her eyes on the womanizer, too, but will she ever get the chance to confess her true feelings to him? Anyway, one day she discovers secret letters and diaries by her parents and realizes, that they had to endure a fate surprisingly similar to hers. A story on two layers of reality unfolds, one nowadays, the other set in South-Korea in the 50ies, right before the war escalates: Young Jun-Ho, son of a farmer, later student on a military academy, gets acquainted with the beautiful Sang-min, daughter of the local congressman. But they can only meet in secrecy, because Sang-min has already been promised to Tae-su, who happens to be Jun-ho’s best friend, who ends up writing love-letters for his pal, because Tae-su himself seems to be a little dim when it comes to expressing feelings in a letter. Will Ji-Hae rescue for herself what her parents never could achieve? Or, in the end, does it turn out to be all different from what it seemed to be in the beginning?

This extraordinary drama from South-Korea deserves its titel more rightfully than any other. There’s everything in there to keep the audience spellbound and get them to feel for the characters. Sometimes even too much of the emotional stuff, because in the end people tend to start crying a little bit too often and surprising twists occur to fast after another. But besides this, there’s nothing much left to mourn over. Jae-young Kwak, already known for his romantic masterpiece “My sassy Girl”, turns up with nothing more than his whole artillery of proficiency to tell the epic Lovestory with beautiful pictures of landscapes in rural Korea, perfectly chosen settings and witty dialogue. Time and again the kind of spunky and fresh humour, already used in “My sassy Girl”, turns up, but without taking too much influence on the the melodramatic subject of the movie. Already a classic, the “umbrella”-scene and its payoff in the later course of the film: perfect pictures and a rousing melody turn this decleration of love into one of the most beautiful and emphatic rollercoaster of feelings, ever since cinema has been invented. I know, thats something bold to say, but I dare you to experience this special scene for yourself. “The Classic” represents the essence of everything romantic ever filmend, a best-of of all emotions ever shown in movies, and because of that, it sometimes seems to be a little “overburdened”, which may be one of the smaller flaws this movie has. Personal taste will tell you whether this is something you have to meet with feelings of horrified abjection or if it is just the most affecting and touching thing on earth. However, you are not allowed to discuss over cinematography and editing, because in those meticulous composed pictures a surprising sense of perfection becomes tangible. And whoever thinks, he has found a tiny bit of clichè, I’d like to remind him of the words of Ji-Hae, a.k.a. Ye-Jin, spoken right in the beginning of the movie: “Oh my god, thats so clichè . . . but I guess I have to look at it as a Classic”.

The asian companion piece to “Love Story”. Nostalgic values of moral, Love and Sacrifice, wrapped inside a thick carpet of wonderful Violin- and Pianomusic: It’s like a hit on your lacrimal glands with all the subtlety of a sledghehammer, and whoever puts up resistance, ought to be pitied.

8 out of 10 Points.