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Mother and a Guest (Sarangbang sonnimgwa eomeoni) (1961)

Director : Shin Sang-Okk
Production Company : Shin Films Co., Ltd
Date of Rate : 1961-08-26
Running Time : 103 min.
Opening Theater : Myeong Bo Theater
Genre : Literary Art

Staff :
Writer : Joo Yo-Seob
Screenplay(Adaptation) : Lim Hee-Jae
Producer : Shin Sang-Okk
Executive Producer : Hwang Nam
Director of PhotoGraphy : Choi Su-Young
Gaffer : Lee Kyu-Chang
Music : Jeong Yun-Ju
Art Director : Kang Seong-Beom
Editor : Yang Seong-Ran
Sound/Recording : Lee Kyeong-Sun

Cast(Actor/Actress) :
Kim Jin-Kyu, Choi Eun-Hee, Han Eun-Jin, Do Keum-Bong, Jeon Young-Seon

Synopsis

Ok-hui (Jeon Young-seon) lives with her grandmother (Han Eun-jin), her mother (Choi Eun-hee), and the maid (Do Kum-bong). People refer to their house as the "Widow House" because all three adult women who live there are widows. One day, a teacher named Mr. Han (Kim Jin-kyu), who is a friend of Ok-hui's uncle, moves into the house as a lodger. Never having known her late father, six-year-old Ok-hui takes to Mr. Han as if he were her real father. Ok-hui's mother and Mr. Han develop feelings for each other unbeknownst to prying eyes, and Ok-hui shuttles back and forth between them as their messenger of love. Mr. Han sends Ok-hui's mother a letter confessing his love for her, but she rejects him out of concern for her mother-in-law and Ok-hui, and Mr. Han departs for Seoul.

Notes

"A film that created the stereotype for the traditional Korean woman"
Adapted from Joo Yo-seob's short story of the same title, Mother and a Guest is a representative example of the Korean literary film. Through Ok-hui's innocent and childlike perspective, the movie portrays the deep, furtive love between a man and a woman with touching lyricism. In adapting Joo Yo-seob's short story for the big screen, director Shin Sang-ok inserted characters and incidents that are absent from the original, yet managed to expand its imagery and sentiment without altering the simple tale. The result is a "feature film that feels like a short story." The movie takes particular care in presenting the love between Ok-hui's mother and Mr. Han obliquely through Ok-hui's gaze, to the extent that there are few if any moments when the two share the same screen or exchange direct conversation. Mother and a Guest does not so much follow a plot as flow on the current of atmospheres and emotions. There are no notable incidents, nor can one trace a clear synopsis. Nonetheless, the film never loses its cinematic suspense or density a fact that testifies to the extraordinary dexterity of director Shin Sang-ok in calibrating emotions. Shin makes effective use of piano music and various props, including flowers, to connote the inner feelings of Ok-hui's mother and Mr. Han. For instance, the former's internal state, churning with a love that cannot be expressed, is conveyed through passionate piano music. If the scene toward the end of the film in which Mr. Han pulls Ok-hui's mother into his arms for the first and last time delivers a powerful impact, this is surely because the emotional pitch has already been elevated through such painstaking devices. The veiled but ardent feelings shared by the main couple are even more effectively communicated through contrast with the uninhibited love between the maid and the egg merchant. Unlike Ok-hui's mother and Mr. Han, who never even exchange a real conversation, the maid and the egg seller indulge copiously in their love and sexual desire. The charming ingenuity of child actor Jeon Young-seon's performance as Ok-hui also became a topic of interest among audiences at the time.

Director Bio: Shin Sang-ok (1926-2006)

Shin Sang-ok, who was an icon of Korean cinema during the 1960s, is one of the most significant producer-directors in Korean film history. After graduating from Gyeongseong Middle School and Tokyo Art School, he worked under director Choi In-kyu as an assistant director and in 1952, made his directorial debut with The Evil Night (Ag-ya). He became recognized as one of the greatest Korean producer-directors of his era with the stunning success of Seong Chun-hyang (Seong Chun-hyang) (1961) and ran Shin Film Studios, once called "Half the Korean Movie Industry." But his close relationship with the political regime which was the basis for the founding and success of Shin Film Studios began to fade, and with the government's cancellation of his license, he lost Shin Film Studios where he produced his movies and which he valued more than his life. In 1978, he was kidnapped to North Korea along with his wife Choi Eun-hui and produced films such as Salt (Sogeum) there. The two dramatically escaped North Korea in 1986 and after residing in the United States, moved to South Korea where director Shin Sang-ok taught students and prepared to undertake Genghis Khan, which he thought would be the pinnacle of his lifetime of film. But he passed away on April 11th, 2006, without being able to bring his plans to fruition. In all, he directed 75 movies and produced 250 movies.