Screen/Society--Cine-East: East Asian Cinema Series--"The King and the Clown"
Film Screening--"The King and the Clown" (Lee Jun-ik, 2005, 119 min, South Korea, Korean w/ English subtitles, Color, DVD) -- "The King and the Clown" has the double distinction of being the highest-grossing film in Korean history at the time of its release and one of the first Korean commercial films to deal openly and unabashedly with gay themes. The film focuses on a pair of clowns who perform comic plays, songs, and acrobatic tricks for aristocrats or commoners during the Choson Dynasty. Arrested for staging a play that satirizes the king, they are dragged to the palace and threatened with execution, but are given a chance to save their lives if they can make the king laugh. This signals the beginning of an ambiguous and unstable relationship between the king, his fools, and the Confucian courtiers. -- "Lee Joon-Ik evokes the great masters while pilfering none of their material, and I venture that he has created a classic that can count among the best Kurosawa interpretations of Shakespeare, and yet stand on its own." -- Vernon Chan, A PERSISTENT VISION