Are you a fan of movies based on realistic portrayal of common people's struggle, sorrows and suffering? Then "Ode to my father" (2008) will be worth watching for you.
The film is directed by Yoon je-kyoon and starring Hwang Jung-min and Kim Yun-Join.
Watch the trailer of "Ode to my father" here
Ode to My Father is all about the evocation of a beautiful past of Korean history in the most brutal ways. The film starts with the Hungnam evacuation of 1950 during the Korean War, when the refugees were rescued by the US Navy. In that time the central character Duk-soo (Hwang Jung-min) made a commitment to his father about protecting his family as per the Korean customs.
The life of Duk-soo is filled with hardship and misfortunes. He faces many adversities to keep his promise. The epitome of all this lies in Duk-soo who goes through the breakup of his family during the mass exodus of northern families to the US-controlled south during the Korean War in 1950.
He serves stints working in German coal-faces in the 1960s to pay for his brother's college tuition and in markets in war-torn Vietnam in the 1970s to pay for his sister's wedding. Finally, he starts his tortuous mission of finding his lost father and sister in the 1980s.
The whole film is an emotional journey, and the climax of the waterworks is a scene where Duk-soo and his family are reunited with his long-lost sister Mak-soon via a national television show dedicated to connecting families separated by the North-South divide.
The scene is a tribute to Gilsoddeum (1985), South Korean drama film directed by Im Kwon-taek, which is taken from the real-life 1983 KBS programme titled "Campaign to Reunite 10 Million Divided Families".
In this 60 years of journey, Duk-soo faces a plethora of problems and goes through complex situations but never losses hope and tries to keep his hope no matter how hard the situation is.
The movie ends as Duk-soo wistfully says that his father probably would not be able to come to see him at the shop now because he is too old.
The film is considered as a Korean version of Forrest Gump as Duk-soo involves with several of his country's defining moments too. Like the
Hollywood movie character, Duk-soo is not a particularly bright individual – although in his case, it's more to do with letting his heart rule over his brain.
As the protagonist of Forest Gump meets famous figures of American history, so is Duk-soo. The latter meets many historical figures of Korea including the founder of Hyundai Chung Ju-yung, pop star Nam Jin, fashion designer Andre Kim.
The movie begins with a fluttering butterfly that flies around Seoul before landing close to an aged Deok-soo. And the movie ends with the butterfly fluttering away. It was clearly a homage to Forrest Gump's opening and closing scenes.
Ode to My Father is currently the fourth highest grossing film in the history of South- Korean cinema, with 14.2 million tickets sold. The film has been rewarded as the best film in the 9th Asian Film award. It has also got many national and international receptions.