Renowned director Park Chan-wook, best known for his films Sympathy for Mr. Revenge (2002), Oldboy (2003) and Mistress Revenge (2005), is inspired by the story of Sarah Waters’ historical novel The Fingersmith, surpassing its success. In this article, we will present you with a detailed overview of this famous cinematic work. We’re here with an analysis of The Handmaid.
Maid in Park Chan-wook’s career; From its vibrant visuals and poetic dialogue to its unique use of the Korean language, this is a very original production. Park Chang-wook’s adaptation script, co-written by Jung So-kyung, maintains the structure of the novel; but he places it in a closer context. This is why Victorian Britain replaces Korea under the Japanese colonial government in the 1930s.
In this article, in which we will analyze in detail and consider the film “The Handmaid”, spoilers will also be found. If you haven’t watched the movie yet and are planning to watch it, it’s certainly better to be aware.
Click here to view our article on movie recommendations for the week, which includes a short introduction to the movie.
Film release, crew and film achievements
The Servant is a 2016 romantic drama and thriller film directed by Park Chan Wook and starring Kim Min Hee, Kim Tae Ri, Ha Jung Woo and Jo Jin Woon.
The film, which won the BAFTA award for Best Foreign Language Film and competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival where it premiered, earned over $38 million at the box office despite its nearly $9 million budget. .
Kim Tae Ri was selected from 1,500 candidates prior to filming to play the lead role in the film. The film, ranked in the top 10 by many critics in 2016, is also included in The Guardian’s “Film Festival of the 21st Century”. It entered the “Top 100 Movies of the Century” list at 41st place and was ranked first in the “Classics of Modern South Korean Cinema” list.
Theme and Content of the Handmaid
The film has a three-act structure called the Rashomon effect, in which the different characters in a scene express events from their point of view. In the first episode, the story follows a seasoned Korean con man who assumes the guise of a Japanese aristocrat named Count Fujiwara and begins to put his plans into action.
Using his fake name, Fujiwara plans to seduce Hideko, an heir to a wealthy heritage who lives with a wealthy book collector, Kozuki, who owns an impressive mansion. Although Kozuki plans to marry his niece in the near future, Fujiwara arranges for Tamako, who works with her, to enter the mansion under Soki’s name as Hideko’s maid. Souka’s mission in this mansion is to convince Hideko to marry Fujiwara instead of her uncle.
Meanwhile, Hideko seems to be a naive person who grew up in isolation under her uncle’s strict and oppressive rule. Hideko, who keeps Soki around as if in need and takes Suki’s advice on how to deal with her advances from Fujiwara, who was giving her drawing lessons at the time, seems to feel completely helpless. However, behind Hideko’s naive and helpless appearance, there is much more.
After some time, Suki begins to fall in love with Hideko, whom she is tasked with coaxing. He and Hideko, apart from the marriage that Hideko planned with her uncle; When Suki is believed to be plotting against Fujiwara and Hideko, they begin a passionate affair that must be kept secret. Consisting of many layers, each act representing deceit, mystery and desire, the film gradually reveals the true identities of its characters.
A Few Thoughts on the Maid
The first thing that attracts the attention of the audience is the very stylish and bright atmosphere of the film. The first and second acts of the film, which are set in a rich and magnificent mansion, very successfully combine Japanese and Victorian traditions.
In addition to being a large and isolated building, this mansion is notable for its special arrangement of rooms and extraordinarily characteristic details; It completes the film in every way. These structures are so magnificent that they have a strong psychological effect on the behavior of the characters as well as the perception of the viewer that Soki at one point wonders if young Hideko’s unhealthy mental state is due to the property she is on. . Based on the wealth of an heir who lacks the ability and power to express himself, the film continues to develop from a completely different perspective when things go wrong.
Critics described “The Maid” as Park Chan-wook’s first attempt at portrayal of realism. This is partly true because unlike his previous films; The film lacks vampires, very unusual hypnotic powers, and incredibly neo-liberal private prisons where you can pay big money to imprison your enemies. However, in this new theme, Pak approaches fantasy elements with serious sensibility and sets the focus from here.
The Handmaid is a film that depends on miracles, that is, meeting your desires and pleasures with the same miraculous possibilities as wisdom. In Oldboy, a prisoner goes to jail for 15 years; Just as he evolved into a master fighter with what he learned there, the Handmaid can fall into a similar abstraction from place to place.
On the one hand, portraying sexuality as something that requires cunning and extensive training; on the other hand, he insists that such learning, such carefully acquired skill, cannot be controlled or restrained.
The director widely presents his vision of love and sexuality in the film. However, the film’s scenes dealing with this theme turned out to be rather bland and influenced by mainstream pornography. This was one of the major criticisms of the critics.
What is interesting is the male sexuality presented in the film. Although the erotica between the two women is presented in a very warm way, the sexuality of the film’s male characters is presented in a very cold and grotesque way. Because Park Chan Wook throughout the film presents heteronormative relationships as a tool of oppression. Here is one of the main contrasts created by the film.
Other moments of the film
While reviewing the book the movie is based on, Park Chan Wook decided to expand the context of the book. He intended not only to make a Korean version of the book set during the Japanese occupation, but also to pique his own reader’s curiosity as to where he wanted the plot to go.
For this reason, he modified the book to some extent, which included elements of the soap opera in its original version. Park Chang Wook, with the help of these changes, he introduced into the script of the film not only representatives of different classes, namely servants and aristocrats; He also stated that he wanted to paint a portrait of a society under colonial rule.
maid; it’s just a good example of how costume design can add more layers to a movie’s storytelling. The novel Fingersmith, on which the film was based, was also made into a BBC mini-series, released in 2005.
Instead of results…
The Handmaid is a feature-length film over 150 minutes long. It can be said that it is necessary to publish a book, not an article, in order to fully reveal all the forces and the magnificent atmosphere with which he works in one article. Our analysis article on The Handmaid also offers a look at the film in this context. If you like films that have a strong psychological impact and turn corners, The Handmaid is perfect for you. I hope you enjoyed this work, which is one of the best works of cinema by Park Chang Wook. Hope to see you in other movie reviews…
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