[Marxism] Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Sep 21 12:53:47 MDT 2011

When I think back on my favorite directors from what I consider 
the golden age of movies, roughly the end of WWII to early 60s, 
there are a few things that they seem to have in common. Firstly 
and most importantly, they are humanists. Although only some share 
my leftist sympathies (Kurosawa, Ray, De Sica), they all sought to 
give meaning to the lives of ordinary human beings through their 
work. Additionally, they were very much engaged with their 
national culture even though none could be described as 
nationalistic. Their films were very much concerned with 
traditions that united their countrymen culturally. This 
frequently meant using dialog that was drawn from the vernacular. 
Finally, they navigated easily between high and low culture. They 
sought the widest audience without watering down their art form. 
In a very real sense, they were following a path that Shakespeare 
had pioneered in Elizabethan England.

Alas, the golden age is no more. These great directors are all 
dead now and Hollywood’s heavy commercial hand has been felt 
across the planet, especially in the age of globalization. There 
is at least one happy exception to this sorry trend, however. For 
people who have been reading my film reviews over the past few 
years, you will know that I regard Korean films among the best in 
the world today. Not only that, they are a welcome throwback to 
the Golden Age with their humanism, their engagement with 
indigenous traditions and culture, and their ability to entertain 
while reaching the greatest heights of artistic achievement.


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