Black Hair (Geomeun meori) (1964)|
Director : Lee Man-Hee
Production Company : Korea Films Co., Ltd
Date of Rate : 1964-07-31
Opening Theater : Kukdo Theater
Genre : Martial art and melodrama
Screenplay(Adaptation) : Han Wu-Jeong
Producer : Ahn Tae-Shik
Executive Producer : Kim Jin-Mo
Director of PhotoGraphy : Seo Jeong-Min
Gaffer : Jang Ki-Jong
Music : Jeon Jeong-Keun
Art Director : Hong Seong-Chil
Editor : Kim Hee-Su
Moon Jeong-Suk, Lee Dae-Yeob, DokKo Seong, Lee Hae-Ryong
"Black Hair" Yeon-sil (Moon Jeong-suk) is the lover of crime boss Dong-il (Jang Dong-he). She pays off one of the boss's henchmen, Man-ho (Chae Rang), with whom she once had an affair; Man-ho is an opium addict, and he has been blackmailing Yeon-sil by threatening to disclose their past relations. When Dong-il finds out, he has one of his men severely disfigure Yeon-sil's face then casts her out, according to the rules of the organization. With nowhere to turn, Yeon-sil becomes a prostitute, but any money she earns is apt to be taken away by Man-ho. One day, she meets a wholesome taxi driver (Lee Dae-yub), who allows her to stay at his house. She goes to meet Dong-il, buthis men, fearing that their boss might be weakend by his feelings for his former lover, decide to kill her off and force her into a car. The taxi driver, who happens to be following them, rescues Yeon-sil just as she is about to be killed, and helps her to get plastic surgery on her face. Meanwhile, Dong-il is unable to forget Yeon-sil. He goes against the rules of the organization by meeting Yeon-sil again and spending the night with her. He confesses his actions to his men and orders them to punish him for violating the rules. As Dong-il and his men are fighting to the death, the taxi driver appears on the scene and demands the beleaguered boss to hand over Yeon-sil.
"Perhaps the most 'noiristic' film in the history of Korean cinema"
Captivatingly recreating the world of gangsters with its dark alleyways and secret hideouts, Black Hair may well be described as the most "noiristic" of Korean movies. The community of gangsters, their dubious codes of conduct, the pronounced fatality of the characters' situations, the overly dim lighting and sets that center around basements, the red light district glittering after the rain none of the film's elements, whether formal or substantial, reflects the actual sights and sounds of Korean society. In this respect, Black Hair is a unique film that resembles neither its contemporaries nor its antecedents. The character of Dong-ila crime boss whose Oedipus-like fate is to confine and punish himself with self-made rules is an archetype in Lee Man-hee's films. This type of character recurs consistently in later films by the director.
- Among those credited as the co-writers of the screenplay, "Chu Nam" is Lee Man-hee's nom de plume and "Han Gyeong-hyeon" is the real name of screenwriter Han Wu-jeong.
- According to screenwriter Han Wu-jeong, the titular character in Black Hair was modeled after a real-life prostitute with a disfiguring scar on her face.
Director Bio: Lee Man-hee (1931-1975)
Director Lee Man-hee was born in Hawangsimni-dong Seoul, in 1931, the youngest of 8 children. He participated in the Korean War deciphering enemy codes and duringthe years between 1956 and 1961, he worked as an assistant director under the directors Ahn Jong-hwa, Park Gu and Kim Myeong-je. He made his directorial debut in 1961 with Kaleidoscope (Jumadeung) with the support of Kim Seung-ho, one of the most famous actors of the era. Afterward, he proved that he could make movies that were commercially successful with Call 112(112reul Dollyeora) (1962). He opened a new age of Korean noir and horror with Black Hair (Geomeun Meori) (1964) and The Devil's Stairway (Mauigyedan) (1964). He also opened up new possibilities in Korean art films with Full Autumn (Manchu) (1966)and continued on this stylistic path with Homebound (Gwiro) (1967) and Holiday (Hyuil). With the decline of the Korean movie industry in the 1970s, he received fewer and fewer opportunities to make movies and this coincided with a deterioration of his health and financial situation. He died of liver cirrhosis as he was finishing his film, A Road to Sampo (Sampoganeun gil) (1975).