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South Korea, 1996 (MIFF 2002, Beauty within the Beast – Kim Ki-Duk)

Director: Kim Ki-Duk

"The recurrent themes in my films are space and captivity. The woman in Crocodile and the man in The Isle are captives; they're characters who become prisoners through a violence which, ironically, is beautiful." - Kim Ki-Duk

Kim Ki-Duk's debut is an unsettling and unclassifiable piece, revealing a deep fascination with society's disempowered fringes. The Crocodile is a vagrant who trawls the River Han for the bodies of drowned suicide victims, hiding the corpses and extorting money from the bereaved families. His world expands only slightly when he saves a young girl from death at the hands of her boyfriend. Forcing his attentions upon her, he initiates a tortuous relationship - at one point almost blossoming into love when he encourages her to paint his portrait. But, overwhelmed by sadness, the relationship inevitably swerves towards tragedy.

With Crocodile, Kim demonstrated a keenness to chart new inroads into familiar material. The River Han, a permanent visual reference for Seoul's citizens, is reinvented as an excremental sewer that turns people into dead meat. Exemplifying Kim's conviction that beauty lies in ugliness, the river is to the Crocodile a source of survival, both financially and spiritually. The film's visual poetry, clashing head-on with its brutal subject matter, turned Crocodile into an instant classic.

See also...


South Korea, 2004
Samaritan Girl (Samaria) South KoreaWinner of the Silver Bear for Best Director at this year's Berlin Film Festival, Kim Ki-duk's 10th feature combines the darker-edged themes of his earlier films (B… More »


South Korea, 2004
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter' and Spring (Bom, Yeoreum, Gaeul, Gyeowool, Geurigo Bom) South Korea'spring, Summer, Fall, Winter' and Spring is an exquisitely simple movie. The film's lyrical plainness… More »


Korea, 2004
The mesmerising 3-Iron, which won him the Best Director Award at the Venice Film Festival, again proves Kim Ki-duk deserves his reputation as one of the world's leading outsider filmmakers. Exemplify… More »


France/Korea, 2005
MIFF has enthusiastically flown the flag for South Korean cinema, championing such diverse and mind-altering work as MIFF guests Kim Ki-duk (retrospective in 2002), Park Chan-wook (Old Boy 2004), Im … More »


South Korea, 2006
A recent estimate in Korea claimed that 50 percent of the female population had opted for plastic surgery in their 20s. Considering this epidemic, MIFF favourite Kim Ki-duk's (Bad Guy, The Isle) la… More »

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