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Disavowing The Isle : Masochism and New Extremity

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Abstract:

This article undertakes a thematic and aesthetic analysis of The Isle (Seom 2002, dir. Kim Ki-duk) and conceptualizes the theme of disavowal in association with UK audience expectations of popular and “extreme” Asian cinema. In addition, this work also seeks to reframe Kim beyond Asia extreme in a framework around intimacy and pain more akin to European extreme cinema. Via close reading, the complex representations of brutal intimacy found in this film can, I argue, be understood in-line with the Korean concept of “han,” marginality, and masochism. Considering formal and stylistic ellipses within the text, I argue that The Isle opens up a space for audiences to consider what is disavowed, unseen, and unsaid in Kim’s work.

Keywords: Asia Extreme; Kim-Ki-duk; The Isle; alienation; disavowal; ellipses; masochism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/ac.22.1.70_1

Affiliations: University of Keele

Publication date: March 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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