Esteemed film critic Roger Ebert said that the movie Oldboy was a “powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare.”
It's one of those titles that, when I hear it, I think back to the first time I saw it in college. I was in a crowded dorm room with a bunch of friends piled around a small TV. The reactions to scenes were priceless, as we watched the twists and stomach-turning revelations that appeared on screen.
The film was directed by Chan-wook Park, who recently sat down with RogerEbert.com to talk about the film's legacy on its twentieth anniversary and the release of its remastered version.
OLDBOY - Official Trailerwww.youtube.com
Many people remember Oldboy for its two most famous scenes: the octopus eating and the hammer fight. Director Park was very happy with the way that turned out.
When it comes to confronting the octopus, he said, "The response from international audiences that took me aback the most was regarding the live octopus scene. From the start, I had a very clear idea as to what food Dae-su, who has not had contact with any living entity for 15 years, would want to eat first. He would furiously gnaw on a wriggling mass of life and swallow it. This idea is where Dae-su’s line, 'I’m going to chew it all down,' came from."
Director Park also expanded on how food plays a role in culture, stating, "The food that applies to this concept, as a Korean, is obviously live octopus. But I hadn’t thought about how non-Korean audiences would react. It ended up being an extremely grotesque scene. There are actually many Koreans who can’t stomach live octopus. And even if you do eat it, you would never eat it whole like in the film. It is likely a very dangerous act. You can even choke to death. There was even a real murder case where someone killed their lover in this manner. I really hope there aren’t any Americans who think Koreans would just put a large, live octopus in their mouths."
Check out this behind-the-scenes video of Park filming the octopus scene:
Oldboy "Eating Live Octopus" - Behind The Scenesyoutu.be
Of course, the hammer scene is one I go back to often. It's such a unique fight scene that captures so many different levels of choreography and action.
Director Park said of the scene, "What entertains me most about the hallway scene now is the bald, shirtless thug with the potbelly. That’s Mr. Heo Myeong Haeng. He might have been just one of dozens of stuntmen back then, but in the past 20 years, he has become Korea’s leading stunt coordinator and a film director in his own right with two features under his belt. He made the hallway scene in Oldboy twice as exciting with his unmatched performance, for which he deserves all the credit."
'Oldboy' Director Park Chan-wook Breaks Down Hallway Fight Scene | Vanity Fairwww.youtube.com
Another thing that has always struck me about Oldboy is the use of color in film. Director Park addressed this idea, discussing his intents with the purples and reds prevalent throughout.
He said, "I was unrestrained in my usage of bold colors during the shooting stage. I was able to make this decision because we had done plenty of tests using bleach bypass during pre-production. If the subject is already faint in color, then there’s the possibility it’ll appear almost monotone after bleach bypass. If you put bold primary colors through bleach bypass, you get this strange and unfamiliar tone. I tried very hard to preserve this effect while remastering the film."
What are your favorite parts of this movie? Have you seen the remastered version?
Let me know in the comments.
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