The March of Fools (Babodeul-ui haengjin) (1975)|
Director : Ha Kil-Jong
Production Company : Hwa Chun Trading Co., Ltd
Date of Rate : 1975-05-13
Date of Theatrical Release : 1975-05-31
Running Time : 117 min.
Opening Theater : Kukdo Theater
Genre : Melodrama
Writer : Choi In-Ho
Screenplay(Adaptation) : Choi In-Ho
Producer : Park Jong-Chan
Executive Producer : Lee Eun-Bong, Kim Jae-Wung
Director of PhotoGraphy : Jeong Il-Seong
Gaffer : Sohn Young-Cheol
Music : Kang Keun-Shik
Art Director : Kim Yu-Jun
Set Decorator : Kim Ho-Kil
Editor : Hyeon Dong-Chun
Sound/Recording : Lee Jae-Wung
Yoon Mun-Seob, Ha Jae-Young, Lee Young-Ok, Kim Young-Suk, Kim Sang-Bae
Byeong-tae (Yoon Mun-seob), a philosophy major at Y University, goes to a group blind date and meets Young-ja (Lee Young-ok), who studies French literature at H University. The young men and women of the 1970s, who have grown up under the influence of a rapid influx of Western culture, agonize over college issues, family conflicts, and their future paths in life. But such struggles are self-derisive, and they can see no tomorrow waiting for them. Between Byeong-tae and Young-ja, there is no promise of love, of any kind. They simply meet, and exchange meaningless conversation. Meanwhile, Yeong-cheol (Ha Jae-young), who always rides a bike and declares every time he drinks that he will set off in search of a whale, has feelings for another girl he met on the blind date, named Sun-ja (Kim Young-suk). But Sun-ja rejects Yeong-cheol, who stammers, has no prospects, and was even turned down for military duty due to health reasons, and he falls into despair. With nothing to look forward to, Byeong-tae and Yeong-cheol head to the sea. Yeong-cheol, who boasted that he would catch a beautiful whale in the East Sea, commits suicide, and Byeong-tae enlists with the military. Young-ja comes to see him off, even though she said she wouldn't see him any more, and the two of them kiss through the open window of the train that will carry Byeong-tae away.
"A representative film of the 'visual age" which romantically and self-mockingly unfolds through a sensual yet restless camera the lives of young men and women living in the dismal 1970s"
With Song Chang-shik's "Whale Hunting," "Why Do You Call," and "With Each Passing Day" flowing throughout the film, The March of Fools paints a picture of romance and futility. The movie is the work of director Ha Kil-jong, who experienced a free and liberal culture when he studied in the U.S. in the late 1960s. In it, he unspools the gloomy and suffocating reality of Korean society at the time with a self-derisive yet buoyant touch, against the background of Seoul's culturally-vibrant Shinchon area. The hand-held shots and emptily-echoing inner monologues effectively reveal the lighthearted but simultaneously dismal and insecure future of the young protagonists. The film is also meaningful for the glimpse it provides into the 1970s youth culture, which included crackdowns on long hair, heavy drinking, group blind dates, indefinite school hiatuses, campus life, and the military draft.
The perpetually empty-handed Yeong-cheol riding his bike off the cliff across the blue expanse of the East Sea as Song Chang-shik's "Whale Hunting" reverberates in the background; Young-ja hanging onto the train window and kissing Byeong-tae after telling him, "I'll wait till I'm old and grey, so make sure you come back"such scenes became iconic images in the youth culture of the day, and will be remembered throughout Korea's cinematic history. The March of Fools recalls the subsequent life of Ha Kil-jong himself, who died young after experiencing failure after failure at the box office due to coercive censorship. Even to this day, it continues to powerfully evoke the romantic yet nihilistic atmosphere of youth.
- The movie was adapted from Choi In-ho's novel of the same title, which was serialized in Ilgan Sports.
- Some 30 minutes of film were cut during prior censorship, including a fight between Byeong-tae and a Japanese man at a bar, a scene at the police station when the two male protagonists undress a woman, and a scene showing a student demonstration.
Director Bio: Ha Kil-jong (1941~1979)
He was the catalyst for a new revival of Korean cinema when Korean cinema was at a decline in the 1970s. He majored in film directing at UCLA and returned to Korea in 1972 to make his directorial debut with the symbolist film, The Pollen of Flowers (Hwabun). He only made 7 movies before his untimely death. He criticized Korean movies and created a new visual aesthetic through experimentation, struggling to truthfully portray the society of the era. His The March of Fools (Babodeul-ui haengjin) (1975) is a significant work that portrayed the futility and pathos that the youth of the era felt because of the oppressive social climate of the times. His other important works include The Ascension of Han-ne (Hanne-ui seungcheon) (1977), The Home of Stars (Sequel) (Byeoldeul-ui gohyang) (1978), and Byung-tae and Young-ja (Byeongtae-wa Yeongja) (1979).