Set in the late 18th century, this dazzling epic by Im Kwon-taek (Fly High Run Far) concerns the love between a prostitute's daughter and the son of a provincial governor, who marry in secret but are then driven apart. Im is Korea's most prestigious filmmaker (with about 100 features to his credit), and his stirring 2000 drama is both historically resonant and strikingly modern, remarkable for its deft and spellbinding narrative, its breathtaking color, and above all its traditional sung narration, which he periodically shows being performed with drum accompaniment before a contemporary audience. This is one of those masterpieces that would qualify as a musical if Hollywood propagandists hadn't claimed the genre as their personal property. A must-see. 120 min.
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