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There is Something Special about the Award-winning Films Directed by Park Chanwook, who Fascinated Cannes

Jun 21, 2022
  • Writerby Hellen Park
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Unrivaled Mise-en-scene, Reflection on Humans, and Love Stories



Decision to Leave, which won the Best Director at the 75th Festival de Cannes, will be released simultaneously in Korea and France on June 29. It is very unusual for a Korean movie to be released in Korea and Europe simultaneously. In addition, the film was pre-sold to 192 countries, including North America, the United Kingdom, Turkey, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Italy. We can see the worldwide interest in Decision to Leave, Park Chanwook's masterpiece that won the Best Director at Cannes, released six years after The Handmaiden.


In particular, 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of Park Chanwook's debut as a film director. "It's like a gift from Cannes to celebrate the 30th anniversary of my debut," he said after winning the Best Director. After debuting with the movie Trio in 1992, Director Park has been in charge of screenwriting and directing 20 feature and short films and series so far and has participated in planning and scripting 7 films that he did not direct. It is no exaggeration to say that he has been making movies nonstop for 30 years. At the same time, his films opened a new chapter in Korean films with 'unconventional and new' charms. The New York Times introduced Park Chanwook as "The man who put the Korean Cinema on the map." 


Decision to Leave, “The finest work among my films!”  


Decision to Leave (2022) 


The most important stage that made director Park Chanwook known to the world is the Festival de Cannes. In 2004, he won the Jury Prize at Cannes for Old Boy, and in 2009, he won the Jury Prize again at Cannes for THIRST. In 2016, The Handmaiden was also invited to the competition and won the Vulcan Award, a prize for an artist technician. And in 2022, he won the Best Director for Decision to Leave


Decision to Leave shows the changes and evolution of Director Park Chanwook in many ways. In the vast nature of the mountains and the sea, the detective (Park Haeil) and the suspect and wife of the victim (Tang Wei) doubt and explore each other and eventually love each other. Director Park Chanwook, who had a long affection for the detective genre, wanted to make a movie with a 'kind, polite, and brilliant detective' that the world had never seen before. He was inspired by the Swedish crime mystery novel Martin Beck series. Also, the song 'Misty' sung by Korean singers Jung Hoonhee and Song Changsik was a great inspiration. Director Park Chanwook explained, "I imagined a movie that started with Jung Hoonhee's 'Misty' and ended with Song Changsik's 'Mysty,' and naturally conceived the love story of Decision to Leave." 


Decision to Leave is the most beautiful and sad love story that Director Park Chanwook has ever made. The detective investigating the accident in the mountain interrogates the dead man's beautiful wife. In the process, the detective realizes that she and he belong to the same class of human beings and falls into uncontrollable emotions. In the scenery of the mountains and the sea as if it were created by director Park Chanwook, the house of two people with nature as a motif, a completely new action scene, urgent reasoning, and passionate love are swirling all together in the movie. 


Old Boy and THIRST, Unachievable Love, Blood-red Love Stories 


Old Boy (2003) 


Decision to Leave contains the essence of Director Park Chanwook, who has won awards at Cannes. The unique Mise-en-scene, the director's sharp reflection on human nature, and the love story beyond the taboo are crucial features of Director Park Chanwook's films. 


Old Boy in 2003 follows the process of revealing the secrets of an ordinary man who was imprisoned and released without knowing why. It was based on a Japanese cartoon, but Park Chanwook adapted it into a whole new story. Old Boy made headlines for actor Choi Minshik's long-take 'hammering action scene' and the grotesque scene of eating a live octopus, but the scenes contain a tragedy of a man who gives his all to the weight of sin and tabooed love. The film won the Grand Jury Prize in 2004 after receiving rave reviews from Quentin Tarantino, the chairman of the competition section at Cannes at that time. Considering that Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 911 won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival that year, it is no exaggeration to say that Old Boy won the Best Film award. 


THIRST (2009) 


The film THIRST in 2009 drew attention with the meeting between Director Park Changwook, and Actor Song Kangho, who won the Best Actor at Cannes this year. The unconventional storytelling, a priest who participated in a secret experiment to cure an unknown epidemic becomes a vampire who craves human blood, was the signature style of Park Chanwook. THIRST is also a taboo love story in that the priest who has both superpower abilities and a desire to kill happens to meet his old friend's wife and falls in fatal love. In addition to Song Kangho, who played the role of the priest in agony, Kim Okvin, a woman who seduces him and becomes a vampire and gives off her suppressed desire based on her power, also drew attention at Cannes. It is rumored that Isabelle Huppert, who was the chairman of the judging committee that year, gave enthusiastic support to THIRST


Park Chanwook, the Director Invited and Awarded Most at Cannes Competition  


Decision to Leave (2022) 


Park Chanwook said he doesn't like the nickname 'Cannes Park' very much, but Cannes' love for Park Chanwook is solid. Director Park is the second winner at Cannes after Director Im Kwontaek's Chihwaseon in 2002. With winning the Best Director at Cannes for Decision to Leave, Park Chanwook set a record as the most invited and most award-winning director at Cannes among Korean film directors. Director Park Chanwook, who fascinated Cannes, and his award-winning works show his unique reflection on Mise-en-scene and reflection on humans and his unique 'love story.' 

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