Saturday, January 07, 2006


Director: Baek-yeob Seong
Length: 75 min.
Format: VCD
Date Viewed: 5 January

It's strange to think it, but "Oseam" only works as an animated film. If this story of an orphaned boy and his sister who finds refuge in a Buddhist monastery was live action, with a flesh and blood rambunctious child playing Gilson, it would have reeked of precociousness and suffered far more of emotional manipulation than it already does. In its current animated form, Baek-yeob Seong hits us over the head with signifiers designed to make us cry at certain points and laugh at others, and occasionally it's earned, and occasionally it's not. Further, when we get to the ending, it's not obvious to anyone unfamiliar with Buddhism, regardless of the fact that the English subtitles are very well done, of how we should feel. It's almost impossible to understand outside of the religion's devotees, and to be honest, I had to read someone else's review to catch the what was happening in the final scene. In fact (without giving anything away), the new understanding that Buddhist gods can be petty and selfish - at least to the view of an agnostic Westerner like myself - almost overshadowed the emotional power of the ending, which makes me wonder if it doesn't play better to a Korean audience, which would explain why it has not found distribution in this country. This is not to say that the film is bad; it's not. The animation is beautiful, the voice-work is good and the editing is well-done. Overall, I found the story interesting (though it does hit a couple of false notes - what's with the snowboarding monk?) and we are easily able to care for the characters, of whom I found Gami particularly strong. This film is recommend for people who enjoy tear-jerkers and fans of heavier animation.


Post a Comment

<< Home