“Is she more important to you than Sol?”
“I was there when she was being abused but I haven’t done anything. If I let go of her hand now, I don’t think I can be a good father to Sol, either”
“….watching them grow so well, it makes me think that we should not fight to change the world itself but to stop it from changing us that we really are….”
Dogani a.k.a Silenced a.ka The Crucible (Dong-hyuk Hwang, 2011)
Those unforgettable dialogues really make me speechless. I can’t describe any longer how precious those are. You can hear that on one of the best South Korea film I’ve ever seen so far. Adapted from a novel by Jee-young Cong (published in 2009) which based a real story that occurred on a special school for deaf and mute children at Mujin in 2005, it’s not easy to see, but I guess it’s a must see. It’s been a week, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. So, I just write it, try to express what I feel about it.
Kang In-ho (Yoo Gong) is sent to Mujin to teach art in school for deaf and mute children. He gradually figures out an inconvenient truth in that silence school which already had happened for a long time. He witnesses directly the children that are being physically and sexually abused by their teacher, administrator, and the headmaster. With help from human rights activist, Seo Yu-jin (Yu-mi Jeong), they try to fight the justice for the children. It’s so far from easy to prove and expose their crime because of the corrupt law system and their authority in that community.
I almost have no any complaint about every aspect in this film. Dong-hyuk Hwang’s direction is outstanding. Every scene is uncomfortable haunting and terrifyingly real. Many scenes have broken my heart into pieces, such as (beside the abused kid scene) when In-ho and Yu-jin take the kids to enjoy sunset on a beach (what a warm and beautiful moment, but also so sad), then when the court ends after the judge decides his judgments, and of course, a train scene near the ending. It’s both strong and poignant.
The screenplay is a gem. The dialogue is written brilliantly, mostly through the sign language and facial gesture which are very touching simply. It often made me speechless, no thinking, no saying, just feeling empathy and surprisingly, almost cried.
The cast is superb. The main three children (Seung-hwan Baek, In-seo Jeong, and Hyeon-soo Kim) are the big star. Their unbelievable performance totally hypnotized me during the film. It’s not easy to portray a dead mute kid, but their stunning expression is an emotional ride.
Yoo Gong is an exceptional actor. His role isn’t kind of a hero just like usual K-film. He plays as a real teacher who is sometime afraid and hesitant when facing that situation, but he has no choice and just follows his deep heart to fight back. I can feel his delivery.
The antagonist actors do their job very well. Yes, you all have capability to make the audience very angry.
The score absolutely becomes an important thing. I really love to hear it. It’s match to all scenes. It’s dark, melancholy, beautiful, and sad. After looking for a week, finally I found the score to be downloaded. Thanks to Mowq. His reputation as composer is so much better. I’ve already listened to his grip previous job in Akmareul Boatda a.k.a I saw The Devil (Kim-Jee Won, 2010).
After watching this, it opens wide my eyes that how easy for mute and deaf children to be a victim of physical and sexual abuse. I warn you, it’s not for everyone. It’s better that you are over 18 years old. Some scenes are not suitable for kids (although the kids play the role).
Enjoy another genre from K-movie. It’s not kind of an entertaining film because it’s made not to entertain I guess but to tell a reality to public, an ugly reality. Feel the complex emotion. And you’ll find….(Stop! No spoilers. I hope my expression above doesn’t show any spoilers).