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Veteran Directs First Love Story

2007/04/12 Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

"Beyond the Years" is the 100th movie by maestro director Im Kwon-taek, and the film surely lives up to the milestone.

In the film, the 69-year-old director successfully captures the characters' delicate emotions and the changing times against beautiful backdrops of the four seasons. More importantly, his moderate interpretation on life and love seems to show the wisdom he's gained from his own life and long career as a director.

The film is a follow-up to the director's 1993 film "Seopyeonje", which tells the story of pansori singers, who sing Korean traditional music, and portrayed their grief and sorrow through their art. But "Beyond the Years" takes on a new direction, shedding light on the pathetic love story between two musicians.

In the film, Song-hwa (by Oh Jung-hae) and Dong-ho (Cho Jae-hyun) are orphans raised by a middle-aged man named Yong-taek, who adopts them in hopes to start a family of his own.

Yong-taek, an unsuccessful pansori singer, attempts to realize his dream of becoming a renowned singer through his two adopted children. He trains Song-hwa as a pansori singer and Dong-ho as a "gosu", or traditional drum player.

The two children grow up as sister and brother but feel a connection deeper than sibling adoration, which they hide for many years.

But the old man's dream starts to fall apart when Dong-ho leaves the family because he cannot take living in poverty any longer.

Dong-ho joins a traveling performance troupe and starts a new relationship with a female singer. But he finds himself longing for the love of his sister.

After years pass, he happens to learn that his sister has become blind and his father had died.

He wants to meet his poor sister, though fate only allows them a short reunion and he knows they can never be together.

The two continue to have short-lived reunions and long separations. Dong-ho's life is a continuous journey in search of his sister's heart. Though time changes it can never change the affection he has toward his true love.

Although the main focus of the film is not on the traditional music of the pansori, the film's score includes many well-known songs, which allows the audience to understand the delicate emotions that each character hides. The songs heard throughout the film coincide with the change of characters' emotions.

Song-hwa sings part of the traditional song "Chunghyangga" during a scene in which she meets her brother for the first time at an old rich man's birthday party. The song's lyrics match with the agony of a woman longing for her lover.

The indirect conveyance of complicated emotions and moderation is expressed beautifully in the film.

But the question is, how many will find the charm at a time when people are used to McDonalds' hamburgers and casual meetings. Im fans will be expecting more from his 101st and 102nd film.

Three and half stars

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