Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius

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The master of the artistic onerousness reached his apogee in this film that was initially banned from screening in South Korea due to its “high levels of sex and nudity” and “scenes of incest,” as the Korean Media Rating Board (KMRD) stated. Furthermore, the initial statement mentioned, “The story and contents of the movie are highly violent, terrifying and harmful to underage audiences. The unethical and unsocial expressions of sexual activity between immediate family members make it only suitable for screening in limited theaters.” Kim had to trim twenty scenes initially, and after the KMRB repeated its ruling, he cut further 12, finally lifting the ban from his film.

 

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A spouse discovers her husband is having an affair and in order to reciprocate, she decides to castrate their only son and even eats the severed member before she runs away. The shame-faced father thus starts spending his time inquiring about penis transplants on the Internet, while the son, who is being bullied for his situation, ends up participating in a gangbang rape of his father’s former mistress.

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As the movie progresses, the son realizes that he indulges in self traumatizing, a passion he actively shares with the aforementioned woman, the father’s despair results in him taking extreme measures to help his son and the mother eventually returns to their house.

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Kim’s obvious purpose was to shock his audience and he definitely succeeded in doing so. Almost every onerous notion is present in “Moebius”, including self-torture, misogynism and Oedipal inclinations. Adding to the sense of perversion erupting from the movie is the almost complete absence of dialogue, a tactic meant to force the spectator to focus on the very graphic images.

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However, behind the shock element, hide some very pointy remarks regarding the contemporary society and the way it deals with issues of sexuality, infidelity and insanity, presented through Kim’s unique narration style.

All three of the actors in the film deliver elaborately, having obvious artistic freedom from the director. Cho Jae-hyun portrays the desperate and in constant angst father to perfection and Seo Young-ju is excellent as the innocent youth who tries to come to terms with his sexuality, but succumbs to the perverse after the shock of his mutilation. Nevertheless, the one who steals the show is Lee Eun-woo, who is utterly convincing as both the vigilant, paranoid mother and the sexually perverted mistress. In general, the cast is one of the strongest points of the film.

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Evidently, “Moebius” is a very difficult film for somebody to watch, a fact stressed by its obvious low budget. (I found myself sweating in a number of scenes although I am not at all strange to movie violence). However, if one were to surpass the shock, he would discover a true masterpiece of the grotesque.

The film has been released in the UK by Terracota Distribution in a dvd-format that also includes an exclusive introduction by director Kim Ki-duk, an exclusive interview with actor Seo Young-ju, 45 minutes Q&A with actor Seo Young-ju at Terracotta Far East Film Festival, London and the Moebius UK trailer.

The trailer: