Synopsis: Gang In Ho is the newly appointed art teacher at Gwangju Inhwa School, a school for hearing-impaired children. He is excited to teach his new students, yet the children are aloof and distant, trying to avoid running into him as much as possible. When the children finally open up, In Ho faces the shocking and ugly truth about the school and what the students have been enduring in secret.The movie is based on a true story.
Country: South Korea
Genre: drama based on reality
Aired: Sept 2011
Director, scenarist: Hwang Dong Hyuk, adaptation of Kong Ji Young‘s book
Casting: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-Mi, Kim Hyun-Soo, Jung In-Seo, Baek Seung-Hwan, Jan Gwang…
The Korean cinema managed to shape its own identity over decades and to make itself known in many festival. But it remains nonetheless, mostly under-rated and poorly understood. Judge as too violent or talking about subject in a too contrived way, the Korean cinema is still dividing the opinion. Yet a new wave of young Koreans directors, more ground in the modern world, appears. Therefore, it’s without surprise, that we witness nowadays to the emergence of movies that are more and more recounting gloomy and under-represented stories. It’s the case of the Silenced‘s director: Hwang Dong Hyuk. The movie -based on Kong Ji Young’s book and inspired by real facts that happenned in 2000- tells the story of hearing-impaired children physically and sexually abused by their teachers, in a quite violent way. At its release the movie sparked off controversies because it unveiled a series of injustices that occured on vulnerables persons.
The director, following the trend of going further and further in the demonstration, does not hesitate to show in detail the sexuals violences leading inevitably to lots of critics. This representation, pushed to the limit, was what makes the movie so particular. It caused awkwardness. An awkwardness fully sought and assumed by the director. Making a movie is to show some things, through a certain point of view. The cruelty is as much displayed through the crudeness of the pictures as in the silence that prevails in this movie. The pain is as much gruelling as it remains inarticulate. Incidentally I deeply admired the performance of the children-actors that gave life to the story.
The first half of the movie focused on the discovery of the school and the dreadful acts highlighting in this way, the perversion the children are vicitm of but also the corruption of all the teachers. Hwang Dong Hyuk displays metaphorically the horror of the plot borrowing the aesthetic of genre films. Right from the beginning he establishes an oppressive mood -worthy of Martin Scorcese’s Shutter Island– and involves the audience in the breathtaking fall that the main character -In Ho, the new art teacher- is undertaking. In-Ho is driving his car getting into deeper and unknown water. That day is foogy and snowy. A little child is walking on the railroad track, lost. The very few words, the predominant silence accompanied by a persistent piano melody, immersed us in this gloomy atmosphere that characterizes the whole movie.
But the movie director went even further by broaching the subject of morality. We witness to In-Ho’s inner turmoil: should he remain silent like his colleagues or should he tell the truth to protect the children? The turning point in that movie was when we saw him hesitate. The psychological violence here, was translated through a close-up on his face with the persecutor and his victim drawing away in the background. This moment seemed to last forever whereas it only lasted a few seconds. We could only be affected by this sequence, as if the question was directly asked to us.
Silenced also denounced the korean patriarchal society that forced the victim of sexual attacks to keep the truth shut. The corruption and the failure of the legal system which was supposed to protect those children is brought to light in the second part of the movie that retranscribes the trial against the twin directors and the teacher-torturer. Justice doesn’t have any chance against Christian blinded by their faith, heartless teachers, bribed policemen, barristers, judges and citizens who run away from their responsability and prefer to keep silence. The scared and questioning look of the children put us in the dock, without descending into cheap pathos. If Silenced is not the first movie which criticizes the korean society and evokes coruption, it is the only one that does it in such determined and frontal way.
Silenced played his role very well. Its release led to the reopening of the case and to the adoption of the Dogani law that condemns sexual crimes on minor and disabled person.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” (MARTIN LUTHER KING). This sentence illustrates with perfection this movie which will probably haunt more than one spectator.
Note de Dushbadou: 8.5/10
Note de Whoovy: 8.5/10
Note finale: 8.5/10