Oki’s Movie by Hong Sang-Soo

This essay will be divided into seven pages. Page one is an introduction to this essay and its subject with information about my experience watching it. Page two is an outline of narrative. Page three is about theme, tone, and narrative in this movie and in other movies directed by Hong Sang-Soo. Page four is selected screenshots of the movie. Page five contains my thoughts about this essay and scanned copies of notes I made while writing it. Page six contains footnotes. Page seven contains selected quotes from Hong Sang-Soo that seem relevant to this essay.

Oki’s Movie is a South Korean movie written and directed by Hong Sang-Soo, released by Jeonwonsa Films locally in South Korea on September 16, 2010. It is the eleventh movie made by Hong Sang-Soo. It was the second movie directed by Hong Sang-Soo to be released in 2010, the first being Hahaha (which won Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival [1]). 36,466 tickets were sold during the theatrical run of Oki’s Movie between September 16, 2010 and January 9, 2011 [2], considerably less than the highest-grossing South Korean film of 2010 (The Man from Nowhere—which Wikipedia describes as “the story of a vengeful man who embarks on a murderous rampage when the only person that seems to understand him is taken from him”—with 6,228,300 admissions and a net profit of 47.1 billion Won [3] was the highest-grossing movie in South Korea in 2010).

It is in four parts: titled, “A Day for Incantation,” “King of Kisses,” “After the Snowstorm,” and, “Oki’s Movie,” respectively. Each part is described in detail here. The movie has no plot, I think [4]. There are pieces of narrative within it [5] but as a whole it is just a collection of scenes presented in a sometimes-linear manner. I first watched this movie while sitting nude in a bathtub filled mostly with water that was hot enough to make me feel faint.

I became aware of Hong Sang-Soo as someone who interests me by reading about him on the internet [6], at work in the middle of the night [7], after having watched—and enjoyed a lot—his second movie, The Power of Kangwon Province [8], sometime during the winter of 2010-11. I read about the movie on Wikipedia and watched it maybe three or four times in the two or three weeks after I learned about its existence. I watched all of Hong Sang-Soo’s other movies [9] over the next two years or so, becoming increasingly interested and maybe, to some degree, “passively obsessed” with his movies, finding them to be near-perfect expressions of something or many things that I have felt but never been able to express for myself. Oki’s Movie, The Power of Kangwon Province, and Woman on the Beach have all had a noticeable effect on me, in terms of how I think and behave [10], and have provided comfort to me—sometimes, when feeling overwhelmed by “life”—by performing the role of “something I can watch and see not only an aesthetically pleasing image but the thoughts, ideas, and experiences of another person [11] expressed quite plainly and beautifully and honestly.”

After watching Oki’s Movie for the first time I felt affected and quiet in a way that was not uncommon for me to feel after watching one of Hong Sang-Soo’s movies; but sitting there, in a bathtub, with strength sapped by hot water, the quietly affective feeling felt amplified. I stayed awake most of the night, I think, looking at things on the internet about Hong Sang-Soo that I had already read, scanning them for information about Oki’s Movie.

I then watched the movie, or sometimes just specific scenes or segments of it, many times over the next few months, strategically—using the emotions expressed in the movie as a complement to my own: leading, encouraging, sustaining, or changing my own constantly fluctuating emotional state with an aesthetic stimulant, like how a sound editor would apply music to a scene. I formed a connection with the movie, which, having thought about a lot, I think I can pinpoint to one line of dialogue [12].

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