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MEMORIES OF MURDER (2003)

When two simple-minded detectives are assigned to a double murder case in a South Korean province, they soon realize that they are chasing the country’s first documented serial killer.


Memories of Murder, with it’s extraordinary display of cinematic technique by Kim Hyeong-gu, opens by stating that it’s events are based on a true story and in a time set under a military dictatorship. The few opening minutes of the movie already hint us a lot about the themes that will be explored throughout the narrative. The film opens with warm imagery and a sense of humble simplicity, a highly nostalgic look, which can be seen as very specific to South Korean cinema. While the music and cinematography strenghten the feel of sweet reminiscence, several pieces of information provide us with a different feeling. A burnt out car, an old tractor, a small dirt road that does not have a real destination and youth that does not respect their elders all seem to hint that something is not alright here. Once the killings start, the viewer is apruptly taken away from the golden look and greyish tones are introduced, like a grey cloud that constantly seems to linger above the small town. The arrival of the ominous killer upsets the golden idyll existent in the small town.
Memories of Murder is very much based around time. Soon, the characters understand, that everytime it rains, a new killing will take place. This creates a tight supsense moving the story forward, as the murderer needs to be found to stop the killings. Time ultimately destroys the town, the inhabitants become unhinged, they change mentally and even physically. (Cho Yong-koo, Park‘s partner, looses a leg) The damage has been done and nothing is able to return to how it once was. This can beautifully be seen, as the movie returns to the location of the first murder again. This time, however, we are not left with a postcard like sunny shot of the landscape, but the weather has changed into a moody overcast look.
Furthermore, the viewer is treated more as a voyuer than a participant. He does not only see the perspectives of the people investigating, but also experiences the murders taking place, gaining information that only the killer could have known. This is further embraced, as the movie jumps into flashbacks and even the perspective of the killer during a POV. The story is told throughout a multitude of perspectives and characters. Breaking free from standard coverage, all actors are often put inside a single frame, letting them interact with each other. One of the more noticeable shots is definitely when detective Park looks directly into the audience’s eyes at the very end of the movie. The movie does not depend on the perception of the characters, but moreover wants to know what the audience’s views are.

Director: JOON-HO BONG
Cinematographer: KIM HYEONG-GU
Year: 2003
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1



Memories of Murder
Next Film: Solaris
Previous Film: Taxi Driver

January 14, 2018

If you like these Stills, make sure to buy the movie, it is our absolutely highest recommendation.

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