Notes on “My Love, Don’t Cross that River” (님아, 그 강을 건너지 마오)

Posted on May 23, 2015

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A scene as warm as summer.

A scene as warm as summer.

1. “My Love, Don’t Cross That River (님아, 그 강을 건너지 마오)” is a South Korean documentary film by director Jin Mo-Young . It was first shown in 2014.

2. This documentary follows an old couple, known as the “100-year old lovebirds” in the rural part of Seoul. In this film, we witness their playful interactions and daily life, which is full of love. Visibly in love, we get drawn to their world where there’s virtually only the two of them. Married for 76 years, you can’t help but be amazed at how long their love has lasted, and how bright the fire burned. As we get emotionally invested in their world, we also can’t help but get teary-eyed when we see one of them get sick, which eventually puts an end to their union.

3. It broke box office records when it was shown in Korea.I can see why it was a hit in the Korean market. The scenes are picturesque, the storytelling is poignant, and the characters are charming in their honesty and palpable love. Each shot is not only beautiful but filled with deeper meaning, which is what I love about good Korean films in general.

4. The seasons, for example, played an important role in strengthening the film’s moods. Summer was when we saw the 100-year old lovebird’s playfulness with each other. The lightness of their mood matched well with the freshness and vibrancy of summer. Winter was when we saw their situation head into a downward spiral. It was the time when the male protagonist started to get sick, and when he also passed away. I especially loved the beauty of the opening and closing shots. It all comes full circle. We see the grandma crying all alone in her hanbok, her small frame set on the sideline of a vast, snow-covered landscape. It suggests sorrow and loneliness at the same time. Very powerful scene, indeed.

5. Their clothes also speaks volumes. They are shown wearing hanbok, the traditional Korean clothes, throughout the film. I think this symbolizes tradition and the importance Korea puts on the family. In the age of divorce, the 100-year old couple is an exception rather than the norm. That is also, why, I think, this film became a Korean hit. There is a certain degree of nostalgia for that time when love lasted like this.

6. I wish I can get a copy of this so that I can perhaps add it to my film list in my upcoming Korean film class (if ever it pushes through–fingers crossed!).

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Posted in: Movie Notes