Painted Fire • 취화선

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Painted Fire • 취화선


Wednesday Sep 23 01:00 PM
Wednesday Sep 23 07:30 PM
Sunday Sep 27 07:30 PM


Doris Duke Theatre


Museum members: $8.00
General Admission: $10.00


About the Film:

Part of Seoul Cinema 2015

Directed by Im Kwon Taek. South Korea. 2002. 116 min. Korean with English subtitles.

This film captures the history behind some of the fantastic ceramics on view in Splendor and Serenity: Korean Ceramics from the Honolulu Museum of Art. The Doris Duke Theatre is the last theater in Honolulu to have a 35mm projector, and we use it for Painted Fire. The result is saturated, rich colors. "Each shot is pretty much a painting," says theater manager Taylour Chang "and the texture of the 35mm really brings out the depth of color."

Winner of the 2002 Cannes Film Festival's Best Director award (the first for a South Korean filmmaker) Painted Fire is a vivid portrait of the turbulent life and times of Korea’s greatest artist. As remarkably embodied by Choi Min Sik (Old Boy), the temperamental, passionate 19th-century brush master Jang Seung Up paints with a martial artist's fervor while indulging a rock star's single-minded lust for life.

Amidst tumult and destruction, Ohwon, as the artist comes to be called, fights to escape the era’s rigid artistic boundaries and the social fetters that would deny his low-born, unschooled genius. Saved from a street gang's fists by a wealthy patron, young Ohwon's raw talent, as demonstrated in a sketch thanking his rescuer, opens the door to a world that would otherwise be forbidden to the dirt-poor outsider. As Ohwon's artistic abilities develop to near supernatural perfection, his carnal appetites grow into self-immolation. But whether imprisoned in a gilded cage as a reluctant court artist or painting Kama Sutra pillow book porno for booze money, Ohwon's personal dissolution and political innocence yield artworks that one awestruck admirer says "emanate divine strength as if ghosts were dancing around them."

While Ohwon's brush tugs at paper inside the quiet of Seoul's most privileged homes, out on the street Japanese and Chinese generals who would claim Korea for their own fan the flames of revolution. In Painted Fire, director Im Kwon Taek portrays the near apocalyptic upheaval of turn-of-the-century Korea and the intimate interior battle between Ohwon's creative and libidinous desires with "the very elegance and mastery of the painter himself" (The Washington Post).

See the trailer.

Read the New York magazine review

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