The Piano Forest

Last night I went with a friend to see The Piano Forest (dir. Masayuki Kojima) at the outdoor theater in Haeundae. My reasons were as much cultural curiosity as they were content. I wanted to have the experience of sitting with hundreds of Koreans in the open night sky and watch a movie in what amounts to a small stadium.

For the first time this season, it was cold, and I didn’t have a jacket. I buttoned up my shirt and, despite some discomfort, was fine. People seemed to really enjoy the film, laughing and reacting vocally to all the various dramatic shifts. It was an animated story from Japan, so there were a lot of children there.

The film itself was pleasant enough for me as an adult. As a children’s film I’d change that adjective to outstanding. The story involved two schoolmates who play the piano. One comes from a very schooled and high class background. He practices diligently, works hard, and is considered a prodigy. His new friend is poor and his mother is a call girl. He gets into fights at school, is disrespectful of authority, never practices, but is naturally gifted at playing.

It’s a tricky moral game to play in a story like this meant for children. Who will be our hero? Who’s message should push through? That of the person who works hard to achieve his goals? Or that of the person who lives life purely from the heart? So I was constantly wondering how they would handle it. In the end, both ideas emerged—work hard, but love what you do. Additionally, we were shown the value of maintaining a relationship even with someone who is your rival.

I realized that my last three films of the PIFF festival will all be animated. So I think I’ll fit in one more this afternoon if I can escape the university: a Chinese war movie called The Assembly. It was the opening film, but I missed it because I left the opening ceremony before it started. This means I won’t see a single Korean film. This is unfortunate, because there were a lot I wanted to see. Ah well, I like what I’ve seen so far.

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