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Posted on April 21st, 2012, by

The film Oldboy was released in 2003 and at once shocked the audience with its intricate plot, wonderful play of actors and talented shooting. In general South Korean cinematography is considered the most creative. Having watched Oldboy and compared it with American thrillers, which are so popular nowadays, you understand the difference of Eastern and Western mentalities, views on the sense of life, on such feelings as vengeance, love, sympathy. The director of the film Park Chan-wook based it on a Japanese manga, the second part of The Vengeance Trilogy.

Analyzing the movie it is necessary to discuss its plot which makes the essence of the film and attracts attention of the audience, the effects used in the film which highlight the main events in the movie and the details of shooting which add to the whole impression of the movie. Oldboy tells the story of a Korean businessman Oh Dae-su who led a calm and quite happy life with his wife and three-year-old daughter until suddenly he was captured and locked in a shabby hotel room, where he spent fifteen years. Neither he, nor the viewers know the reason of his imprisonment and the person who did it. Certainly these fifteen years had enormous influence on Oh Dae-su’s state of mind and his attitude to life. Not having seen a living soul for fifteen years, cut off from the outer world, from his family, Dae-su experiences different states. Several times he attempts to commit a suicide, but his unknown enemy does not let him do it, gassing him. He tries to escape but also fails to do it. In order to show the difficulty of being locked, the Park Chan-wook vividly shows Dae-su’s hallucinations. Oh is condemned to being within four walls. He has only television as a means to learn at least something about the world around him.

Fifteen years in solitude is an immense burden for a person as people are social creatures, but when these fifteen years are spent in ignorance of the reason of the confinement and of the destiny of your relatives, this term becomes a trial. When Dae-su learns that his wife is killed, he is suspected in this murder and his daughter is given to foster parents, he makes a firm decision to escape and digs a tunnel. The moment when his hand is feeling the drops of rain is very touching. It strikes with simplicity and significance. However, when Oh almost achieves his aim, he is suddenly set free by the person who kept him. We see him coming out of a big suitcase in the middle of a green lawn.

The landscape highlights the contrast between the grey walls of his room and the vividness of the world. Dae-su is helpless and unconfident. In order to emphasize his shock with his sudden release the director includes a scene when Oh comes to a restaurant and orders “something alive”ť, because literally and figuratively he wants to feel the taste of life. He eats a live octopus and it shocks the audience, but it is a very strong device to show Dae-su’s feelings.

Soon Dae-su he meets Mi-do a sushi chef who sympathizes with Oh and helps him. Mi-do and Oh Dae-su become very close morally and physically. They fall in love with each other and Mi-do helps Oh to fulfill the terms of the agreement reached by Oh and his kidnapper. We learn that Oh and the person who kept him, Woo-jin, are old boys, and in order to save Mi-do’s life Oh must find out why Woo-jin captured him. Thus, at the end of the film we get to know that the main reason of Woo-jin’s act was vengeance to Dae-su. This strong feeling of revenge urged him on such a considered and planned crime. Dae-su’s meeting with Mi-do was planned by Woo-jin as Mi-do appears to be Oh’s daughter. Thus, Woo-jin revenges for revealing the secret of his love affair with his sister by Dae-su when going to school. As a result of spreading a rumor, Woo-jin’s sister committed a suicide in which Woo-jin assisted her.

Having learnt about it, Dae-su begs Woo-jin to keep this secret form Mi-do and cuts his own tongue as the proof of his silence.

The end of Oldboy is ambiguous and can be interpreted up to the viewer’s wish. Dae-su asks a hypnotist to make him forget this horrible truth. After the process Mi-do comes to Dae-su and says that loves him.  Dae-su only smiles in response but we cannot say firmly whether this smile is bitter or happy. The audience is left with many questions: how much time has passed since the leave of hypnotist? has Dae-su forgotten the truth? will he continue his relations with Mi-do? Such end makes the strongest impression on the audience as during the whole film viewers are on the stretch, they wait for an outcome, but instead they are left with a number of questions. They are left with their own thoughts about the purpose of such vengeance and its place in a person’s life.

To sum up, the movie is strong and impressive due to the intricate plot which is complemented with a captivating arrangement of events and particular episodes. The flashback in the very beginning in the film attracts our attention to Dae-su’s story. The very first scene in which Dae-su holds a self-murderer by his tie refers us to the situation of Dae-su himself. After fifteen years of imprisonment he has no place in the world. Such episodes as eating of a live octopus, a hand feeling the raindrops, the express in Mi-do’s imagination contribute much to the whole impression of the movie. The main advantage of Oldboy is that it puts many questions but does not give answers to them. It is a thriller with a philosophical aim ”“ to show the strength of vengeance and its ruinous force, which destroys human life but does not bring anything but satisfaction, which al in all is unnecessary. The success and strength of the movie is proved by many awards, among which Grand Prix of Cannes Film Festival Jury to Park Chan-wook.

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