A Coachman (Mabu) (1961)|
Director : Kang Dae-Jin
Production Company : Hwa Seong Films Co., Ltd
Date of Rate : 1961-02-15
Running Time : 95 min.
Opening Theater : Kukje Theater
Genre : Melodrama
Screenplay(Adaptation) : Lim Hee-Jae
Producer : Lee Hwa-Ryong
Executive Producer : Park Hee-Baek
Director of PhotoGraphy : Lee Mun-Baek
Gaffer : Yoon Yeong-Seon
Music : Lee In-Kwon
Art Director : Seo Pan-Su
Editor : Kim Hee-Su
Sound/Recording : Han Yang
Kim Seung-Ho,Shin Young-Kyun,Hwang Jeong-Sun,Cho Mi-Ryeong
Widower Chun-sam (Kim Seung-ho) is a coachman who drives carts for a living. He lives with his four children: eldest son Su-eop (Shin Young-kyun), who is studying for the civil service examination; his mute elder daughter (Cho Mi-ryeong), who is married but is constantly run out by her husband; his younger son, whose only talent is to get into fights; and his youngest daughter Ok-hui (Um Aing-ran), who is discontented with her family's poverty and dreams of improving her lot in life. Suwon-daek (Hwang Jung-seun), a maid in the household of a horse owner (Joo Seon-tae), helps out Chun-sam both financially and emotionally, and the two share deep feelings for each other. Chun-sam and his family suffer a host of misfortunes: his eldest son fails his exam time and again; his elder daughter, pushed to desperation by her husband's abuse, tries to commit suicide by throwing herself in the river; his youngest daughter falls prey to a con artist; and even Chun-sam himself gets his leg broken when he is hit by his boss's car. With Chun-sam incapacitated, Su-eop takes up his father's work in his place. When the boss tries to sell the horse a creature Chun-sam has come to regard as his second self Suwon-daek secretly buys the horse with her life savings and presents it to Chun-sam. On the day Su-eop finally passes his examination, Chun-sam and Suwon-daek become engaged to be married, and the whole family walks along the snow-covered street together with renewed hope.
"A family romance set on the threshold between the pre-modern and modern eras"
A representative film in the genre of family melodrama, A Coachman depicts the suffering and despair experienced by the lower classes during the transition from the pre-modern to the modern era, through the story of a working man and his family. As implied by his profession, coachman Chun-sam is a character who navigates the modern period with a pre-modern identity and mindset. His pre-modern outlook is best exemplified by his treatment of his elder daughter: by refusing to take her in despite her husband's physical abuse, Chun-sam effectively drives her to suicide. Coachmen are obsolete in modern society. Chun-sam's existence is perpetually threatened by characters like his creditors and his boss, who embody the modern social order. His children are similarly subjected to various hardships, the main reason for which is the mere fact that they are "the children of a coachman. "Failing to secure a social footing in the modern order, Chun-sam and his children are driven to despair. However, A Coachman does not end with their desperation; instead, it concludes with the eldest son passing his civil service examination, thus suggesting hope for the future. Su-eop's success in the examination is tantamount to a guarantee of safety in a social order that offers great challenges for those who strive to incorporate themselves into it (Yi Hyo-in); it serves as a springboard for Chun-sam's family to enter the modern era. What is interesting is the way the film patches up the clash between the modern and the pre-modern: A Coachman advocates reconciliation rather than confrontation between generations as the means of surmouting this historical conflict. Through the son, the father overcomes the pain of transition and re-affirms his patriarchal authority. On the other hand, the fact that the movie's conclusion, in which all conflicts are resolved through Su-eop's success in the civil service examination, reveals no doubts or misgivings about modernity offers a glimpse into the distinctive emotional makeup of the early 1960s. Thanks to Chun-sam's job as a coachman, the sociocultural landscape of the time, in which modern and pre-modern elements coexisted, receives detailed treatment in scenes that depict the changing modes of transportation or the various sights of Seoul. The streets of Seoul, vividly captured by the camera, even recall the Neorealist films of Italy. The movie also showcases Kim Seung-ho's excellent performance.
Director Bio: Kang Dae-jin (1933-1987)
Born in 1933. After graduating from the Department of Theatre and Film at Sorabol University of Arts, he worked as an assistant director under director Shin Sang-ok for 3 years. He made his directorial debut early, at the age of 27, with the comedy, Like father, like son (Bujeonjajeon) (1959). After his debut, he concentrated on making melodramas or teenage movies. Of those, his early movies that center around the lives of the working-class people such as A Coachman (Mabu) (1961), Mr. Park (Bakseobang) (1960), and Fishermen (Eobudeul) (1961), make up the most important part of his oeuvre. His other significant works include Times of Love and Hatred (Sarang-gwa Mi-um-ui Sewol) (1962), Don't Break Damaged Reeds (Sang-han Galdaereul Kkeokjimara) (1962), The Stepmother (Sae-eomma) (1963), and Sorrowful Youth (Cheongchun Geukjang) (1967). He passed away in April of 1987, at the age of 54.