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SAMYONG

South Korea, 1965 (MIFF 1966, Programme 8)

Director: Sang-ok Shin

The story of Samyong, the poor, mute farmer, at the mercy of Kwangsik, the spoilt son of a rich family, is set at the beginning of the century. Conditions prevailing at that time in rural Korea relegated the poor to subservience, and Samyong, conditioned to accept his place in the order of things, puts up with all the indignities and cruelties inflicted upon him. The miserable dumb man has but one source of happiness: his adoration for Kwangsik's wife, and in a poetic scene he even dreams he can talk with her. . .

This is a charming and entertaining film. In its delicate observation of the servant's love for his employer's wife, the director reveals himself a romantic, but he handles the story with honesty and restraint. When the action bursts into violence, audiences may be dismayed by the rigour of the physical cruelties depicted but in the end one is left with a final impression of an oriental folk-tale seen from a distance; wistful in attitude, composed of half-fancy and half-truth.

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