How a master filmmaker channeled Hitchcock with ‘the James Stewart of Korea’
By Lee Young-doo
Korean cinema had its own master filmmaker. Kim Ki-duk was a brilliant and innovative filmmaker as well as the first Korean director to use a major studio as his home base, and he was regarded as one of the best directors of his time.
He was a master of black and white photography and had even made a short movie in that style. But what he made as his first big-screen film, The Master, was unlike any other Korean film.
As a student at Hanyang University in Seoul, one of the most prestigious education centers in the country, Kim Ki-duk made a film that was never shown in its entirety to the public. It was only shown at Korean film festivals.
His master film was a black-and-white silent film, silent because he could not find a sound crew to film his footage, which was shot on a 35 mm camera. He went to the Korean movie theater and asked fellow students and colleagues, “Could you help me please?” The result was the short film The Master, which was shown at some international film festivals in Korea.
Kim Ki-duk was not just great as a filmmaker but also as a friend. The Master was made as his second film, and it was his greatest failure as an artist.
In 2003, Kim Ki-duk went to the United States to attend a master class of the Korean film school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In the class, he had met Robert De Niro and David Lynch. Later he met director David Lynch (Lynch).
The Master, which was filmed and shot on black and white film, was shown at the Cannes film festival in 1957. While he was in Cannes, he saw De Niro and Lynch there. That night, he dreamed that he was in the movie theater where he saw De Niro and Lynch screening The Master in the cinema.
After he returned home from Cannes, he called the cinema operator to ask if he could rent a projector to project the film. When he went to rent the projector, he asked the operator why the cinema did not have a sound recorder, and when she answered that she had nothing but a 35