Sunday, October 2, 2011

Secret Sunshine

I always thought putting a film work into the category of “Melodrama” is insulting. The word originally refers to the very dramatic orchestral music that accompany the actions in the theater. Film, I think, should not resemble theater, otherwise it loses the whole meaning. Theater is often about exaggeration and staged presentation, while film to my point of view is about “hiding” the acts and bring audiences into an believable observation position. Therefore if the film is considered too “melodramatic”, it has failed to realize the story by taking audiences out of it.

The film “Secret Sunshine”, to me, is very realistic in most aspects, except the part about shin-ae having an epiphany about “god” and became an enthusiast. This plot seemed quite abrupt to me, as if the the movie suddenly changes into a promotion for Korean Church. Maybe it was sponsored by the church? I was almost going to lose interest when the film goes on about how she become very actively enrolled in all kinds of church activities, but soon, surprisingly, I was instantly re-captivated by the plot: Shin-ae visited the jail and realized the “injustice of god”. This to me, was the most memorable and unexpected moment in the film. It not only successfully turns the story and actions around leading to a new direction, but also elevates the theme to a new level. The psychology behind Shin-ae’s reaction to the murderer and the chain of her later crazy actions is confounding to me in many ways: On the one hand, after the visit to the jail, she generated hatred towards god because of his “injustice” instead of suspecting god’s existence. She sinks into depression and doubt. On the other hand, she turns to seducing the doctor whose wife introduced her to the church healing group as a revenge. She also created mess at a church reception to suggest that all is a “lie”. She, in a way, developed two very different attitudes; she’s resigned to her own devastated situation and has given up changing her fate, but still does not accept the injustice of life and wants to challenge other people’s faith in God.

I am very sympathetic of the relationship between Shin-ae and Jong Chan. Chan is very bossy but he is not aware of it. He shows his affection for her by cutting in her life. For example, he faked the piano certificate for her without her consent; he follows her around and gives lots of instructions. He unconsciously manipulates her and didn’t think much about the consequences. When he defended Shin-ae in front of her mother-in-law, he did not realize that it will cause her mother-in-law and other relatives to suspect that Shin-ae has an affair with him. Shin-ae, from my point of view, never really liked him and just consider him as a maybe a brotherly figure. Even at her most desperate moment while her son got abducted, she gave up asking him for help; she doesn’t want to owe him.

Below are some of the notes I have taken while reading the book:

-Narrative is a fundamental way that humans make sense of the world.

-The film shapes particular expectations by summoning up curiosity , suspense and surprise.

-A narrative is a chain of events in cause-effect relationship occurring in time and space.

We draw an distinction between story and plot(or story and discourse).

-The plot explicitly presents certain story events, so these events are common to both domains. The story goes beyond the plot in suggesting some diegetic events that we never witness. The plot goes beyond the story world by presenting nondiegetic images and sounds that may affect our understanding of the action.

-In general, spectators tend to imagine what connect events by means of cause and effect.

-Casual motivation often involves the planting of information in advance of a scene.

I think both the films we watched in class are good representations of the differences between story and plot. For example, in “Secret Sunshine”, we observe events in the eye of Shin-ae how the plot advances, as oppose to the non-diegetic stories involving other characters such as Shin-ae’s son, or Jong Chan. We still understand what happens without knowing everyone’s actions and situations. Both films also did a good job of planting information in advance.

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