Saturday, February 27, 2010


Korean film
Length: 1 hour 35 minutes
Rating: R

What is it about? Tae-suk posts Chinese take-out menus on people's doors and then comes back to check on them after a while. If the menu is gone, he assumes the owners are home, but if the menu remains, he assumes the owners are on vacation. In the latter case, Tae-suk carefully breaks into the house and lives in it for a few days, using their clothes, beds, TV's, food, and other things. In return, he does their laundry and fixes things around the house. This is how he meets Sun-hwa, a woman married to an abusive husband. This meeting is what the rest of the movie is based on.

Was it a good movie? 3-Iron is an excellent movie full of symbolism and intense interpretive character development. The characters Sun-hwa and Tae-suk don't speak at all during the movie, so how they act is very important since that's all the audience has to go by in order to understand them. If you don't like having to interpret what's going on, you can still enjoy the movie for its basic plot line, but it will be a bit lacking and it won't be as easy to understand what's going on. The character development is exemplary, even with the lack of dialogue from the two main characters. Overall, 3-Iron gives the message that hope and love can overcome all odds, no matter how bad things seem.

Can you explain some of the symbolism? (WARNING: this portion contains some spoilers!) First and foremost is the giant symbol of golf. In Japan, as in many other places, golfing is a significant status symbol. That being said, the reason this sport is used over all the others is because whoever is seen playing it is the one who has the "status" of being in control of Sun-hwa.

Another major symbol is nude or partially nude women in pictures and statues. Notice that the picture of Sun-hwa seen in the third place they break into together has her positioned so that none of her body except for her legs and arms is really showing. This physically shows that she is not willing to let just anyone into her life, since she has been so badly abused by her husband. She is using her own self as a barrier to keep others at a distance until she determines whether or not they are "safe" to let into her life (this is directly reflected in the scene when she hides and watches Tae-suk when he has broken into her house).

The final major symbol in this movie is the scale. When we first see the scale, Tae-suk weighs himself at 110 pounds. He takes the scale apart and fixes it to weigh him at 65 pounds. Sun-hwa weighs 47 pounds after this adjustment. The second time we see the scale, Sun-hwa weighs herself at 56 pounds. She then takes the scale apart and fixes it, but she does not reweigh herself this time. The last time we see the scale, both Tae-suk and Sun-hwa are on it and the weigh nothing. The significance of this is that when Tae-suk first enters Sun-hwa's life, he makes it much simpler and less stressful. They both weigh less emotionally. Sun-hwa weighs herself later in the movie and she is heavier than the last time. This is because she cannot be with Tae-suk, so she fixes the scale. We do not know if her weight actually changes directly afterwards, but we can assume that she fixes it in anticipation of Tae-suk returning for her. When they weigh nothing, it is because they are now able to be together forever, leaving them with no more pain or stresses to weigh them down.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Don't Be Scared of Foreign Films!

Do you ever wonder what you're missing when you watch a foreign film? Sometimes it seems like you're looking too deep, and sometimes you feel like you're not interpreting anything deeper at all. Neither way is wrong. You can't look too deep, and not all foreign films are made to be interpreted. If you see something that you think can be interpreted, it probably can, so forget the question of "How do I know if I'm supposed to interpret that?". Instead, "How do I interpret that?" is a far more reasonable question. Here are some pointers on symbolism, motifs, and everything else:

1. If you notice something, especially objects, more than once in the film, it probably means something.

2. If there is special attention given to an inanimate object, there's usually a reason.

3. The way characters speak is important. It gives you insight into their motives and their actions.

4. Characters' professions, especially if they are more of a background character, can help you piece other parts of the story together. When those characters speak, many times you can apply whatever they're saying to something deeper, usually a forewarning.

5. If a character makes reference to an older story/play/movie or uses a quote from one of them, it means something.

6. Short or sudden cut scenes are not just there to throw you off track. If you think that cut scene was wierd or unnecessary, look a little deeper. Though the reason for it changes with every movie, it can usually reveal something about the character.

7. Most importantly, it can sometimes be difficult to catch everything the first time you watch a foreign film. You may get the overall idea of the movie the first time, but each subsequent time you watch it you can pick up more and more symbolism and depth. Think of it like an overstocked store: the first time you walk the aisles, you see what's on the surface and sometimes get a glimpse of things stashed behind the front items. The more times you walk the aisles and look closer at the inventory, the more you will see behind the obvious items.

These are just a few ways to interpret foreign films, and not all of them will be used in a single film. They are just general guidelines to help you begin your journey into the foreign film world. The interpretations you'll find on this lens are mine, and they just scratch the surface. If you have any interpretations of your own, feel free to write them in the guestbook!