Monday, March 28, 2011

Violence in Korean Films

A professor, teaching film criticism in the  fine arts department of a Seoul college, discusses in the  Kyeongyang Magazine the disturbing trend of including increasingly more violent scenes in films being made today, causing many moviegoers to be alarmed and even disgusted with the new trend.

However, some of the films that made the theaters last year, although violent, did have a worthwhile message to tell, she reminds us. They enabled us to see ourselves and society in a new way. Although many of these films had something worthwhile to say, the violence that goes with them is not helpful, in many  cases, in conveying the message.

The professor notes that these films continue to be made because they are market-wise and esthetically appealing, lucrative at the box office and the recipient of many honors.  What are we to make of this? she asks. Those who have a religious belief may be disturbed by these films when they show a disregard for life and a lack of  basic humanity. To what degree are they to be accepted?

In an effort to better judge these films that include violent scenes, sometimes gratuitously, she says it is necessary to find the reason for the film's violence. It is not made up by the makers of these films; it's a reflection of the society we live in, a mirror where we can sometimes see hidden aspects of ourselves and, at times, portents for the future.

The increase of violent crimes, the discord and anger in society. our economic problems, the disharmony between the classes, and  the feeling of victimhood by many inevitably find their voice in the film world. What we see in films is not less than what we have in society, and not something unrelated to the pathology of the society. In sum, the films show us life as we have it.

The cultural importance of the world of film cannot be denied. It influences not only how we see ourselves but how many of us discover the values, both good and bad, of our society.  Films should therefore strive to be, she says, a positive influence, and not tempted to depict debauchery and sin for its sensational appeal. They should encourage respect for life, motivating us to live the good life, which is reason enough, she says, for the Catholic Church to show an interest in promoting the production of better films.

There is one premise that must be remembered, she says. Film criticism, an increasingly important category of art criticism, should be done in a fair and rational manner. Although the interpretation, acceptance or rejection, of films may not follow the general norms of religion or be in harmony with the Church's teachings, it is the overall intent of the film that should be acknowledged and judged.

Some films with violence, she reminds us, have no redeeming value, while others do. It's up to us, she says, to be watchful that we don't build up a resistance to the violence we see in films, and desire more of it--that would be a problem.