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Chunhyang (Widescreen)

Hyo-jeong Lee , Seung-woo Cho , Kwon-taek Im    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

In the tradition of the epic drama Raise the Red Lantern, Chunhyang is a beautiful tale of forbidden passion and devotion unfolding in the spectacular settings of the 18th Century Korea. Mongryong, the privileged son of a Governor falls in love with Chunhyang, the beautiful daughter of a proud former courtesan. Inseparably, the two lovers marry, but must keep their marriage a secret, for fear of reprisal. Soon, Mongryong is ordered to Seoul to finish his education, reluctantly leaving his new bride behind but promising that he will send for her. As time passes, however, a new, vindictive Governor is appointed in the province where Chunhyang lives. This new Governor pursues Chunhyang and when she refuses his advances, she is imprisoned and sentenced to death. Chunhyang's only hope for being saved is her continued faith in the promise Mongryong once made her.
A gorgeous and spirited film, Chunhyang is a classic tale of lovers torn apart by two different worlds, and the power and ultimate triumph of love over adversity.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pansori is definitely not for everyone! Dec 17 2001
By A Customer
The filming of this Korean classic will present some problems to most viewers. Before noting those problems, let me note what is compelling about the movie--stunningly beautiful photography of one of the most lovely countries anywhere in the world. Having had the pleasure of living in South Korea for four years, I can say that this film successfully captures the beauty of the country. The film also will provide many insights into Korean culture, tradition, and values through its retelling of one of the most loved of Korean classics. However, the decision to retell the story through pansori will sorely limit the number of people who will watch the movie. It is undoubtedly culturally insensitive of me to say this, but I found it so painful to listen to this classic Korean singing that I simply turned the volume down half-way through the film and used the subtitles. Had I watched the entire film with the sound on, it would have resulted in a headache of major proportions. Another point is the lack of personality of either of the two lead actors--simply too young and clearly inexperienced, they bring little to their roles. Having watched previous versions of Chunhyang on Korean TV, I can say that this is probably the least satisfying version I've watched. The first half tells the story very nicely, but the final half rushes to the conclusion in a way that leaves the viewer puzzled as to what the point of it all was. Previous versions I've watched actually built some suspense into this portion of the story, none of which was present in this movie. All in all, a major disappointment. This is by no means the best introduction to the growing wonderment of Korean films. Try Bichunmoo, Shiri, Nowhere to Hide, etc, to sample the exceptional energy infusing recent Korean films. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confucian fealty never looked so good May 1 2004
By A Customer
I saw this at the Hong Kong film festival in 2001, and the film went over well with the Asians and the Westerners in the large hall where it was shown. Probably the best film I've seen in the last three years...
I tried to describe it for friends as a 13th-Century(?) Korean version of Star Wars with less swordplay. Substitute Confucian fealty (how relationships of elder-younger, husband-wife, mother-daughter, leader-follower should work, perhaps ideally) for the Force and corruption for the Dark Side of the Force and, strangely, it fits.
The cinematography is great, and the story is introduced via the Korean operatic form for the first ten minutes, but then largely fades out to allow the story to unfold.
What the Western is to American culture, this is to Korea's. Better than you'd expect, unless you've seen a lot of Asian cinema. Deserving of a wider audience...
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4.0 out of 5 stars That was a beautiful experience June 29 2007
By Jenny J.J.I. TOP 500 REVIEWER
know that the majority of Americans are unfamiliar with the Korean art form of Pansori. It is similar to Peking opera, except the voices are lower. And if that doesn't help, Peking opera sounds like a multitude of dying cats. But seriously, Pansori sounds strange simply because it is something new. Pansori is similar to the oral tradition used to pass along the Bible or stories like The Iliad. Only this time, it is in Korean. Chunhyang is an old Korean folk tale, and this movie tries to tell the story in both a Pansori style (with a storyteller 'singing' and slightly dancing to a drum) and one of traditional cinema.

This film is really nice to watch. This duality is what ultimately makes Chunhyang not realize its potential. Listening to a story or reading a book is much different than watching one. A storyteller uses painstaking detail in describing events, so that the listener can construct an image in his/her mind. Revered director Kwon-taek Im (Taebak Mountains) uses Sang-hyun Cho (who wrote the movie with Hye-yun Kang and Myong-gon Kim), the foremost proponent of Pansori to narrate Chunhyang. The story switches between him on stage, seemingly yelling before an audience, and the actual story. Sometimes, his words frame sequences and actors speak in unison with him. The problem is that he minutely describes what is on the screen, and Im follows his words exactly. It works if people are watching him perform in a theater, but becomes distracting when watching a movie. When Cho says somebody walks quickly, the person walks quickly. When Cho says somebody throws a rock, the person throws a rock. Usually, narration in movies serves to impart something unknown instead of simply repeating what is on screen.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but... Oct. 28 2003
By "5u5hi"
I was pretty torn in my final analysis of this film. On the one hand, I loved this film for its colourful and poetic cinematography. The girls in the film were beautiful, and who doesn't like to look at beautiful girls in beautiful costumes? But I felt guilty for enjoying this film because as a feminist this story clearly doesn't reinforce feminist values, but rather, traditional, patriarchal values that seem to characterize Korea even up until this day. Sure, Chunhyang might seem like a heroine for choosing to face death to protect her virtue, but why should this be her defining moment? And I didn't like how Mongryong was able to pluck her out of crowd and take her for his wife like she were just some object for the taking. To me this reinforces man's desire, man's pleasure, and the preeminence of man. Although, on the other hand, Chunhyang clearly finds pleasure in sex with Mongryong, and in this way finds comfort in her own sexuality. Nevertheless, Chunhyang's life revolves around Mongryong and more importantly, she has no personhood or value so long as she is unmarried. In this context, the film seems pretty shallow and empty. But of course, if you get past the feminist agenda (that women deserve personhood in their own right, regardless of whoever's daughter or wife they are, and that women have their own desires outside of masculine constructions), this film is wonderful eyecandy. The historical setting also provides a glimpse into traditional Korea, although I can't say how accurate everything was.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Avoid
If you're looking for a good Asian movie, spare yourself of this one. The story isn't bad, and it's beautiful to look at, but the traditional Korean singing throughout will have... Read more
Published on June 7 2004 by Bryan Connors
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!
I didn't buy the dvd..I just happened to switch to the Sundance channel after the movie had just started. I've never seen a movie like this, I think it's great! Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003 by Shak
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pansori didn't really bother me
What really bothered me was the ending! The first 95% of the film was very high quality, very cinematic, engaging, sensual and beautiful. The use of color was notably pleasant. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2003 by Kimotion
3.0 out of 5 stars Korean Romeo and Juliet
"I try to examine serious aspects of Korean life and not just aim for commercial success. I try to make films about the real life of Korea. Read more
Published on Sept. 20 2003 by Rebecca of Amazon
4.0 out of 5 stars Pansori coming alive on screen
I've noticed that some reviewers were put off by Pansori(traditional Korean singing). However, the director chose Pansori as a narrative backbone in telling the story. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2003 by T. Ghim
5.0 out of 5 stars A great piece of filmaking
This is certainly the best film I've seen in a while. The cinematography was simply stunning. Although some other reviewers were a bit put off by the pansori, I found this... Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry on Film
"Chunhyang" is living art. Narrated in the Korean tradition of Pansori in which a story is told through sung verse, it's the timeless classic tale of two young people who fall in... Read more
Published on July 26 2002 by JLind555
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful timeless classic, yet ...
This movie was hauntingly beautiful, yet so frustrating to watch at times. The scenes were just breathtaking and the narration read like a poetry with excellent English... Read more
Published on June 13 2002 by David H. Kil
5.0 out of 5 stars "Chunhyang" simply perfect....
I watched "Chunhyang" in the movie theater and also on DVD. I really didn't expect much as I bought my movie ticket and prepared myself for one of the greatest movies... Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2001 by Constantine
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