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Shadow of the Master: Park Chan-wook

Outside the frame
By  |  February 27, 2013


Park Chan-wook, whose Korean films Oldboy, Thirst, and others have earned him cult status in the West, acknowledges the similarities between his first Hollywood movie, Stoker, and Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. Call it an homage, since a Hitchcock film convinced him to become a director.

"When I was going to university in Korea," he told me via a translator over the phone, "I was trying to summon the courage to be a filmmaker. It was during a screening of Vertigo that I decided that, yes, I would dedicate my life to filmmaking."

Unlike most of Hitchcock's films, though, Stoker is not so much suspenseful as it is hypnotic. "I attribute that to the dreamlike imagery and the rhythm of it, the leisurely pace," Park explained. "I would describe the film as a dream, and this is the quality I am really inspired by."

Sometimes, it appears, his vision was a bit too dreamy for the studio. "When it comes to the first murder you see in the film," he recalled, "originally I planned not to show it on screen. They suggested that I think about it."

Though some scenes in his movies might suggest otherwise, Park actually feels squeamish when it comes to violence. What scene in his films did he find most difficult to watch? "In Sympathy for Lady Vengeance where the protagonist's Achilles tendon is cut," he recalled. "That was disturbing."

  Topics: Features , Park Chan-wook, Alfred Hitchcock, Thirst,  More more >
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