Seen in Jeonju

Ggotne (1969)

8th October 2009

ggotneOriginally posted September 17, 2007 –Ggotne was broadcast last night over EBS’s weekly Korean Movie Special that gives people the opportunity to watch movies made between 1950 and 1990. I love the show, butI hate the time it airs. It used to run twice on the weekend, once on Saturday afternoon and then again late Sunday night, but only the Sunday night time remains. It begins at 11 pm and most movies wraps up about 1:00. I used to stay up watching the movies and then get up to teach an early class but this semester I wised up and arranged my class schedule so that I do not have any morning class on Mondays. I feel foolish admitting that I adjust my life around a tv program, but it really is the only way to see many of these classic movies.
The film Ggotne is set sometime in the 1920s. It is the story of a young, mute woman from an affluent family. ‘Young’ may be a relative term because the woman, Ggotne, is already over 20 and her family is worried that they will never be able to find her a husband. Not being able to find a husband from among her social peers because of Ggotne’s handicap, her parents arrange a marriage for her a few steps lower on the social scale. The family they choose for her are respectable farmers, not the poorest of the poor, but they must work hard for what they have. They are eager for the wedding as their son has a problem of his own–he is quite simple. At the beginning of the movie, the husband’s foolishness is overplayed by actor Lee Nak-hoon who vigorously and frequently picks his nose and stumbles over his robes while walking, but he tones down his performance by the mid-point of the film.
Ggotne wins everyone over with her sweetness and everyone’s life is enriched when she gives birth to a perfectly healthy son named Dolyi. However, as the years pass Man-bok, her husband, becomes more lazy and irritable. One night, he leaves his house in a huff after both of his parents scold him for sleeping for taking a nap and he winds up a the local bar. There he meets the sultry, gold-digging barmaid who convinces him to run off with her to the city. Before going, Man-bok asks his wife for her jewelry which she trustingly hands over to him. Then he and the barmaid run off into the night.
Although she is crushed by his betrayal and injured from his abuse when she tries to prevent him from leaving, Ggotne carries on in the house taking care of the fields, her son and her inlaws. The entire village sympathizes with the Ggotne and one of the village women points out a place on the top of a high hill where a wife can pray and her husband will return home to her. Ggotne immediately goes to the site and prays to the divine but it is then that she learns you must be careful what you wish for. Her husband does indeed come back…but he is not alone.
Ggotne is not a bad film, but it is not necessarily one that I would say you ‘Must see.’ I takes patience to get through, with long scenes where somebody–or sometimes everybody–sobs their hearts out. Kim Ji-mi as the lead overacts as she often does. Unlike Jang Mi-hee who also played a mute character in Neumi, Kim Ji-mi cannot seem to convey what she is thinking with her eyes. Instead she gestures wildly and makes half-formed words. The film was directed by Ko Yeong-nam and like many of his films, it is competent but not really memorable. That is the reason I am writing about it now. I thought that if I waited until later in the week I would have forgotten the movie completely. Well–not quite completely–This movie did teach me what to do if a script calls for a tiger but the budget does not allow for even a tiger costume

2 Responses to “Ggotne (1969)”

  1. Duncan Says:

    Originally published in 1007? I’m impressed. :)

  2. Tom Says:

    Why yes, it remember it was back in Sept. 1007–I like to get my reviews done early.

    (Thanks for pointing that out to me…I have fixed it)