Peppermint Candy: A Portrait of the Morality of Man and the State in a Reverse Narrative

Peppermint Candy: A Portrait of the Morality of Man and the State in a Reverse Narrative

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Peppermint Candy: A Portrait of the Morality of Man and the State in a Reverse Narrative. The story of the past with a portrait of South Korea's sad history.

The name Lee Chang-dong may not be as famous as Park Chan-wook or Bong Joon-ho who are both pioneers of the New Wave Korean Cinema . Lee Chang-dong's films tend to be obscure and can only be enjoyed by a few people. There are still few films, only six films from the beginning of his career in 1997.

Lee Chang-dong's name resurfaced after his film "Burning" (2018) became a competitor at the Palme d'Or Cannes 2018. This film has a plot concept that is almost similar to the film "Memento" (2000) which was also released in the same year, namely the plot. back off.

It starts with a tragic story followed by a question of morality

The film "Peppermint Candy" opens with a scene where it can be assumed that the main character, Kim Yong-ho, committed suicide by hitting a train. After that the story rewinds to explore Yong-ho's life from 3 days before his suicide to 20 years earlier.

Every important moment in Yong-ho's story begins with a train scene which is shown running backwards complete with background information on the year of storytelling. There are a total of seven storytelling sessions that will make the audience question the morality of Yong-ho's character even more. Not infrequently the audience will feel sick and have no sympathy for Yong-ho's character.

In the end, the audience felt that Yong-ho's action at the beginning of the story was the culmination of his crimes and sins. This is where Lee Chang-dong is very good at playing the audience's emotions through his script, especially Lee Chang-dong's character development.

Backflow as character strengthening

The theme of the movie “Peppermint Candy” is time and memories. It opens with a scene where Yong-ho commits suicide by being hit by a train while shouting " I am going back. " From there, it can be seen where this film is going, back to back.

Chang-dong presents time and memories, beginning with the train track leitmotif technique complete with melodious music and a backwards path. This is like Chang-dong's affirmation that life is like a train that only goes straight and can't go backwards. We can no longer repeat all the decisions we make. By being shown the way the train backs off to signal to the audience that after this Chang-dong's previous life will be shown.

The retreat of the plot, apart from tracing Yong-ho's life journey backwards, is also to strengthen Yong-ho's character. The further back the plot, the more the audience will know how Yong-ho really is. Just like a detective story when it finally reaches the end of the story, all the pieces are finally woven into one whole story.

Sol Kyung-gu embodies Yong-ho's character is indeed very charming. Kyung-gu's approach to Yong-ho's character psychologically and physically makes him have to be able to give the character of a friendly businessman, a brutal policeman to finally a human who is so depressed that he screams in pain. Even so Kyung-gu is still able to display the mystery in Yong-ho's character; unpredictable actions either in terms of goodness or cruelty.

Taking pictures in the film "Peppermint Candy" is indeed more emphasized that we are observing and peeking at Yong-ho's daily life. The camera in “Peppermint Candy” is mostly static and doesn't show complicated angles. All of that so that we can really focus on seeing what Yong-ho does when interacting with his environment.

Important historical portraits in South Korea

Besides being similar to “Memento”, the film “Peppermint Candy” also has similarities to the film “Forrest Gump” (1994) because they both feature historical events in line with the film's characters. Yongho represents the people of South Korea, his degradation and despair reflect the country's long struggle for democracy.

When Yong-ho enlisted in the military in 1980, it coincided with the Gwangju Democracy Movement which led to the Gwangju Massacre which killed nearly 200 people. The incident indirectly became the next turning point in Yong-ho's personality.

Still in the 80s, Yong-ho turns into a police officer who is brutal and sadistic in interrogating suspects. The 80s in the film "Peppermint Candy" is like an allegory of the cruelty of the president at that time, Chun Doo-hwan. Until finally Yong-ho left the police and became a businessman.

The film "Peppermint Candy" is one of the films to understand the New Wave Korean Cinema movement . Lee Chang-dong indirectly created a modern narrative structure in “Peppermint Candy”. Not only showing the backward flow but also supported by Sol Kung-gyu's excellent performance in creating Yong-ho's character.

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