|Beautiful, intimate framing|
Shooting from high up makes a person look smaller and can infer that he or she is timid, lacking in confidence, or occupying a lower social strata. Conversely, low-angle shots make characters look dominant, authoritative, or heroic. Late Blossom’s principal protagonists are frequently filmed from low angles. In this instance, the choice is a mark of respect, as the films seeks to venerate its elderly characters. Here, the formal structure of the film and its choices echoes the rigid framework of a hierarchical society, although perhaps one that steadily shying away from its outmoded confucian values.
|Man-suk (Lee Soon-jae) shot from below|
Late Blossom follows the lives of four elderly people in a rundown neighbourhood in Seoul. Kim Man-suk (Lee Soon-jae) delivers milk and crosses Ms. Song (Yoon So-jeong), who scrapes by by selling scrap paper. They feel something towards one another and gradually seek respite from the loneliness of their lives. Meanwhile, Jang Kun-bong (Sung Jae-ho) takes care of wife (Kim Soo-mi) who suffers from dementia.
|Snow adds depth to some scenes|
Aside from visual metaphors (such as pathetic fallacy) and social awareness, Late Blossom succeeds in the technical department. It features some of the most wonderful camerawork I’ve seen all year. While the lensing is clearly beautiful, it is also intelligent, each shot has a purpose and advance our integration into the story. One particularly pleasing element of the cinematography were the scenes with snow. As the snowflakes drift across the urban landscape, those that come closest to camera float by as large out-of-focus white dots. It’s very engrossing and adds a huge amount of depth to the world we are invited to discover. You may also notice how some of the younger characters are framed looking down on the elders from a high vantage point, as if peering quizzically on those that have laid the foundation for their progress.
|Younger characters look down on elders|
Many themes are explored during the film, mostly examing how society ha changed in its treatment of elders. In one sequence, Song visits the civic office where Man-suk’s daughter works to register for an identity. She is excessively grateful and obsequious in towards its young employees, a reminder of a bygone era when an autocratic administration ruled with an iron fist. Conversely, the youthful staff are pleasantly surprised to be treated so respectfully and reciprocate by expediting her needs. While this may be a sign of positive change, representing the evolution of authority in modern Korea, it also alludes to the fact that people are often less than gracious when dealing with civil matters in modern society. You may also notice certain compositions in the film which place younger characters looking down on the elder protagonists from higher vantage points. They have moved forward, or up, with time and peer down almost quizzically at those who paved the way for them. What is the difference between respecting authority and respecting your elders?
|Kun-bong and his wife, Man-suk and Ms. Song look on|
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