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November 08, 2005

Spider Forest

Geomi Sup
Song Il-gon - 2004
Universal (Korea) Region 0 DVD

First, a shout out to Filmbrain, who wrote about Spider Forest in his own blog, and has been a great source for reading up on Korean Cinema. I have been doing some exploration on my own, but he has clued me in on some films and filmmakers I might otherwise have overlooked.

I may be exaggerating a bit, but for me, Spider Forest comes close to what one would get if Alain Resnais made a ghost story set in Korea. More than anything, this is a film about memory, about the real and imagined past. The narrative is similar to Je t'aime, je t'aime and Providence. Because of the circular construction of the narrative, the storyline remains unresolved, as if to suggest that there could be multiple variations of the main character's dreams and memories.

The main character, Min, is a documentary filmmaker. After being found nearly dead after being hit by an SUV, a police detective attempts to piece together the events that led to Min's hospitalization. Both documentary filmmaker and police detective have jobs based on the collecting and communicating facts. The conclusion of Spider Forest is that facts are subjective and subject to contradiction by other, possibly subjective, facts. Relationships are frequently tentative, based on shifting needs and outside influences. Even if people do not undermine others for possible individual advantage, several of the characters undermine themselves in big and small ways, such as Min's reliance on his faulty memory, or the detective forgetting to turn off his cell phone, which rings the French Can-Can song, moments before a bust.

The mood of Spider Forest graduates to an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss. On a very basic level, the film is a mystery and horror thriller. More important though is the question of how we remember people and how we may want them to remember us. The legend of the forest is that the many spiders are the souls of the forgotten deceased. As in the films of Resnais, memory can be both a self-constructed prison and a means of liberation.

More on Song can be found in Senses of Cinema.

Posted by peter at November 8, 2005 07:36 AM


Nice review, and thanks for the mention. I really like the Resnais comparison, especially as it relates to memory. I hadn't picked up on that.

Posted by: Filmbrain at November 9, 2005 04:33 PM