"A consensus pick as one of the top three Korean films of all time, Kim Ki-young's masterpiece The Housemaid occupies a place all its own within Golden Age Korean cinema." (Darcy Paquet)
Video - 1.53:1 MPEG4 / AVC / 1080p / 23.976 fps
Audio - Korean DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Subtitles - Korean / English / French / Japanese
Region Code - A/B/C
Running time - 111min
1) Commentary by Park Chan-wook (Film Director), Lee Dong-jin (Film Critic) : Subtitles - Korean, English
2) Martin Scorsese on the Housemaid
3) Directors on Kim Ki-young(Directed by kim Hong-joon / 48min) : Subtitles - Korean, English, French, Japanese
4) The Box of Death (79min.)
5) I am a Truck (18min.) : Subtitles - Korean, English
A consensus pick as one of the top three Korean films of all time, Kim Ki-young's masterpiece The Housemaid occupies a place all its own within Golden Age Korean cinema. A domestic thriller that builds in intensity right up until its startling resolution, the film doubles as a manic tour-de-force and a cutting satire of the aspirations and values of modern society.
The Housemaid Based on a contemporary news story, the film focuses on a traditional four-member family which has just moved into a two-story home. The husband Dong-shik teaches music to women factory workers, while his wife spends her days at home at the sewing machine, trying to earn enough money to cover the family bills. One day she breaks down from overwork, and Dong-shik asks one of his students to find him a housemaid. However, the maid they hire acts in strange and unpredictable ways, spying on Dong-shik and catching rats with her bare hands. Soon an incident occurs which motivates her to plot a dreadful revenge, and the Confucian order of the household comes crashing down at the hands of the surreptitious housemaid.
Asian cinema, and melodrama in particular, tends to portray the family as the most basic building block of society. Kim's somewhat twisted cinematic vision focuses on how the supposedly stable family unit comes apart under pressure. The two-story home in which Kim sets his film acts as a symbol for Korea's modernizing middle class, yet behind the placid surface we see darker, more primitive elements penetrating into the family's space: construction workers intruding on their daily lives, rats running amok, and the housemaid herself, wreaking havoc with envy and sexual forthrightness.
With inspired editing and a restless camera (not to mention that famous bottle of rat poison), Kim gradually heightens the sense of tension and claustrophobia, creating scenes of startling intensity. The performance he draws out of young actress Lee Eun-shim as the housemaid (on the left in the photo) is unlike anything else shot in Korea in that decade, or indeed ever since. Sadly, her brilliant acting may have ended her career -- it's said that viewers' reactions to her were so strong (audiences reportedly screamed "Kill the bitch!" during screenings) that producers were unwilling to cast her in subsequent films. As for the rest of the cast, Kim Jin-gyu brings a slightly aristocratic air to the role of Dong-shik, while Joo Jeung-nyeo plays the wife with a bland but stubborn determination to preserve appearances at all cost. The children excel in their roles too, including future star Ahn Sung-ki as the young son.
Though it debuted in 1960 as a box-office hit, The Housemaid was never given proper recognition until a retrospective of Kim Ki-young's work in 1997 at the Pusan International Film Festival. Since then, the film has gradually made its way to retrospective screenings around the world, drawing forth surprised and passionate responses from audiences wherever it goes. One hopes that with time, it will escape from the still overlooked confines of 1960s Korean cinema to become recognized as a world classic. (Darcy Paquet)
The Housemaid ("Hanyeo"). Written and directed by Kim Ki-young. Starring Lee Eun-shim, Kim Jin-gyu, Joo Jeung-nyeo, Eom Aeng-ran, Ko Sun-ae, Kang Seok-jae, Ahn Sung-ki. Cinematography by Kim Deok-jin. Produced by Korean Literature Films, Ltd. 90 min, 35mm, b&w. Released on November 3, 1960.
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