Directors: Shin Sang-ok, Chong Gon Jo
With: Chang Son Hui, Ham Gi Sop, Jong-uk Ri
A free ticket for a film is a rare treat. But it all rests on the question of which film?
Chapter Arts Centre in June last year held a cult film season and having missed the Cult Cinema module in university, I was keen to attend. The free film I speak of was for the North Korean film Pulgasari. Although I had never heard of it, I was fascinated by the pre-production of the film that was discussed in Chapter’s brochure.
The ‘‘great leader’’ Kim Jong-il was such a film fanatic, he had the South Korean film-maker Shin Sang-ok kidnapped to make their own take on Godzilla and thus Pulgasari was born! But the interest surrounding the making of the film exceeds the actual film content. This is a curious B movie, which though not awful, is pretty bad. Having brought a friend along to see this (and one of his friends I had never met before) I thought to myself, 'This is an odd film to bring people to see.'
Cult film buffs would gladly show you when the executioner’s sword holder falls off, as his laughter strangely echoes for no apparent reason. Or that the boulders rolling down a hill are clearly fake, as they fall with as much weight as candy-floss. Another visible gaff is the fact that when the huge lizard is seen with a crowd, they are clearly in front of a screen projecting the lizard.
The costumes are impressive and the shots of the Forbidden City being destroyed are also ambitious. The acting at times was over the top, yet it was Ami played by leading lady Chang Son Hui, who added much needed feminism and humanity to such an absurd and masculine story. The soundtrack is half decent and quite haunting. The film itself is at times absorbing and others just plain silly but deals with a lot of suffering. Much ambiguity remains over whether the iron–eating lizard was the workers savoir or eventual downfall, or both.
A bizarre and baffling experience.