The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

It is hard to describe how excellent The Metamorphosis is without the fear that in revealing to you how it is that it is excellent the continuing escalation of novelty and invention and note-perfect execution will somehow be damaged, because you will know how it is that it is going somewhere great and so the dizzying spectacle unfolding before you will lose some of its startling majesty.

'Fear', because The Metamorphosis is brilliant, stunning, breath-taking. The comparison is to a conjurer - very early, immediately, in fact, writer/director Yun Ki-Nam puts cards on the table and then performs magic.

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There are four elements: the palette, yellow-tinted like expressionism but black and white enough; there is a wall, a building roar of sound that will sometimes become nearly-music, provided by an entity called 'The Hitchhiker'; there is the opening, a stage-like tableaux of a family around a deathbed; there is the cast-list. That is the last, that deliberate archaism of presentation - it will be followed by title cards, the dialogue, but it is sparse, neat, essential, powerful.

There is manner and there is power, there is an ominous undercurrent, there is a face at the curtain of a principal-boy, there is a ceiling and the longest corridor and there are teeth and there is more and more and better. Yun Ki-Nam has a confidence in darkness; underneath the rumblings and the alien percussions of the soundtrack there is black and there is nothing. He studied at the Kubrick Archives, and it is without hesitation that I state there is a constructedness, a certainty that intent has made it to the screen that is immediately reminiscent of his dedication. For the fierce regionalisation of a universality written elsewhere one could mention Kurosawa, and certainly the theatricality of it all draws one in. Expressionism of course, the components of silent cinema are present, but it's in the melange of visual influences, of moving influence, all within an industrial soundscape - this is fusion, balance, craft.

This is not a symphony of cinema, more a series of tones hewn into an opera, but that is not to deny that it is a masterpiece. The staggered elements of its ending are the notes of a reprise, the confident assertion that there is nothing up those sleeves. Dazed, delighted, it is done.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2012
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An exploration of the mythology around the story of Nosferatu.

Director: Yun Ki-nam

Year: 2012

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: South Korea


EIFF 2012

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