“New towns represent the weirdest and most hideous aspects of Korean society”
Recently, there has been an increasing number of much-anticipated filmmakers making their comeback, and LEE Soo-yeon
is one of them. After attracting attention with her shorts, such as Ra
(1998) and The Goggles
(2000), she made her feature debut in 2003 with the horror thriller The Uninvited
starring the most hottest stars of the time, PARK Shin-yang
and Gianna JUN
. After that, it has taken her 13 years to make her second feature, Bluebeard
. As LEE Soo-yeon is finally breaking her silence and meeting the audience, we had the occasion to have an interview with her.
It took you quite some time to make your second film.
There were several reasons, but it’s mainly because after The Uninvited I worked for a long time on a project. It would have been a bloody tale of a mermaid, and it took me 7 years. But realistically speaking, I think this project was too difficult to carry out. (laughs)
Your previous film and Bluebeard explore bit by bit the psychology of their characters.
Come to think of it, there are similarities. I guess it’s because they both share identical themes. Both films deal with stories about covered-up and disregarded truths that at one point slip through the cracks and take their toll. It’s like a backlash from the subconscious.
Can we really say that the two films have the same themes?
Yes. The Uninvited
shows that aspect of the human nature that makes humans believe only what they can bear. And the protagonist in Bluebeard
covers up his errors in a similar manner. Seung-hoon (CHO Jin-woong
) in Bluebeard
is unable to look in the mirror. Such action prevents one’s mental development. The Uninvited
deals with a person’s trauma regarding a sin that was not committed by him, while Bluebeard
deals with one that was committed.
The film has a complexity similar to a puzzle, especially with its shifts in point-of-views, that challenges the audience as if they were playing a game.
To a certain extent, the audience gets to watch the film as if they were wearing some special glasses equipped with a ‘defense mechanism’. It’s like watching it in a third-person’s point-of-view, and then when the seal is broken you shift to a first-person’s point-of-view.
During the course of this story, the boundary between lies and truth becomes rather unclear.
Seung-hoon places all the blame for his filthy side on others, and because of this, such ambiguous elements emerge. However, the most undeniable fact is that Seung-hoon may have abandoned his wife’s corpse, but he did not kill her. And the external circumstances surrounding this key fact are such that it leaves enough room for misunderstanding. Because of that, the truth induces a turnaround when it is finally revealed, which also generates a sense of empathy with the protagonist. But that wasn’t intentional, I just went with the flow to tell the story I was going for, and it wasn’t until later that I realized I made the film look like a puzzle.
As in The Uninvited, the story in Bluebeard has something that makes it sound like an urban legend.
It’s true. I’ve deeply meditated on these ‘new towns’. I believe these spaces represent the weirdest and most hideous aspects of Korean society. You can see there all the embarrassing desires of Korea as a nation. Such wishes are portrayed through the contrast between the native residents and the rampant constructions of the new town in Bluebeard. I believe this sums up everything about Korean society.
A serial killer appears in the film, but the detective is not the main character. It’s quite a unique choice for this film genre.
Bluebeard wasn’t conceived as a thriller as I was convinced this film shouldn’t be perceived by the audience as one in which a cop is pursuing a criminal. The serial murders are way to incite fear, not the goal of the film. Ultimately it is a tale following the psychology of a man, Seung-hoon. It’s a story about the birth of a new type of middle-class crimes as a very normal person commits murder during a class shift. It tells the tale of a personal evil as one is slowly destroyed, and to a larger extent the problems of a system encouraged by economic failure.
The character of old man JEONG (SHIN Koo) is quite impressive. How did you come to create this character?
He stands on the opposite side of Seung-hoon, and is a natural psychopathic killer just like all those that have existed since the beginning of mankind. He may have meticulously planned his murders during his younger years, but now his Alzheimer’s condition lets his animal instinct come out from time to time.
What are your next projects?
There are two projects I have in mind. One’s a spy film and the other… it will depend on the success of this film in theaters. I may end up making a film totally different from what I have prepared so far. (laughs)