Memories of Murder

Director: Bong Joon-ho

2003. Colour. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo. 129 min.

A big critical and commercial hit in Korea, Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder was inspired by the crimes of the country’s first recorded serial killer in 1986. The film is set in the first year of the crimes, and centres on the efforts of the local police and an officer from Seoul to sift through evidence, identify patterns, follow up leads and interrogate suspects. Some of the plentiful gallows humour springs from the obvious clash in method and temperament between the intuitive and poorly educated local cops and the more sophisticated urban detective, but nothing works out in quite the way you expect. Bong’s point is that all the characters, cops, suspects and victims, are in some sense prisoners of the ‘backward’ Korea of the mid-80s: still under dictatorial military government and martial law, inured by a Cold War mentality to acts of violence and cruelty.

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