The Way Home (Jibeuro) (2002)
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Jeong-hyang Lee|
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In this age of Nintendo, convenience foods and corporate marketing, who are we making our children become? The gentle little Korean film, Jibeuro (The Way Home), shows that the question has global resonance. We have more material goods than ever before, but what becomes sacrificed in the pursuit of the whirring, flashing baubles along the way? Seven year old Sang-woo (Seung-ho Yu) is never going to win any prizes in a charm contest. He is irascible, self-centred, demanding and defiant - more than a match for his mother (Hyo-hee Dong). When she finds herself out of work and needing to look for a new job, she decides to uproot Sang-woo from their city home and send him to her ageing mother (Eul-boon Kim) in her mountain village. Sang-woo has nothing but contempt for the mute and bent-backed dowager and her simple home and life. As she quietly goes about her toil, he sits solipsistically embroiled in his Gameboy. He is disgusted by the simple food she lovingly offers him and thoughtlessly takes more than his fair share of the meagre comforts Grandmother has to offer.
And yet, Grandmother is unwaveringly gentle with the vile child. Whilst she is illiterate, mute and incapable of solving logical problems, she is deeply filled with the wisdom that love takes time and taking the time is important. This wily antecedent sleeps with one eye open, both physically and metaphorically. She mutely endures his tantrums, allows him to suffer the consequences of his actions without beratement and even sweeps around his supine body.
When Sang-woo's Gameboy batteries start to die a crisis for the young boy seems imminent - that chiming little black box had allowed him to avoid his circumstances and surroundings. In desperation, after finding no money anywhere in the simple little home, he steals his grandmother's only treasure - the pin she uses to hold her hair in place. However, when he finally arrives on foot in the village, he discovers that his problems are not over. None of the villagers have a need for such a thing as Gameboy batteries and so there are none to be found. And worse, everyone recognises Grandmother's pin, which does not bode well for our young miscreant. Grandmother, in the meantime, taking it all on the chin, simply finds an old spoon to use to tie up her hair.
This film is a delicate, gentle little gem. The subtlety of relationship is exquisitely portrayed. For all his odious behaviour, one can sense Sang-woo's struggles throughout the film. His contempt for his grandmother is obvious, but so is his genuine fear of abandonment. There are gentle hints of whimsy that are worth quite a giggle - the traffic mirror in the village caused some mirth for us as we watched this film. Moreover, the film is a living embodiment of the theme that love takes time. It plays out slowly and gently, devoid of any major dramatic high point.
As the film unfolds, Sang-woo slowly becomes aware of his surroundings. Bereft of his favourite electronic distractions, he suddenly begins to hear bird calls and see the landscape around him. Incrementally, the true inventions and mysteries of childhood begin to open up to him. He discovers contemporary friends and has to learn to become a friend. He feels the pangs of first true love and must learn to bear the wounds it almost inevitably incurs. He learns the childhood art of adaptation - a luggage trolley makes an interesting billy cart - and must learn to suffer the bruises of his actions. In short, he becomes an actual child for the first time in his life.
This is a story told so simply, so subtly, so warmly that it feels like a well-remembered moment. It is poignant without being saccharin and flows with a gentle rhythm that provides an 84 minute balm to the cynical soul. Highly recommended.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced.
This is a really lovely transfer with wonderfully rendered highlights and shadows. It is sharp with good contrast and no excessive edge enhancement. There is no low level noise either, rendering the shadows with good detail. Grain levels are fine also.
The colours are absolutely glorious. Skin tones are superb, whites are white and blacks are black.
With the exception of the slightest of motion blur issues, I noticed no artefacts that marred the presentation.
This is a single layered disc so there is no layer change with which to contend.
The soundtrack is delivered in Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 and is actually quite good.
The dialogue is very clear. Subtitles for the hearing impaired are timely, accurate and very legible, although one could almost watch this film without them, as it's all so eloquently performed with little reliance on dialogue. Audio sync is also accurate.
The music is glorious - crisp, delicate and whimsical - a true augmentation of the onscreen action.
There is surprisingly good surround presence, with plenty of atmospheric sound effects introduced into the soundscape.
Subwoofer activity is very rarely present, although not really necessary in a film of this kind anyway.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static and silent.
There appears to be no difference between the 2 versions, although I'm partial to the local PAL product.
What a joy of a film. Gentle, warm and ringing with a feel of authenticity, I highly recommend it - particularly as its transfer is so respectfully delivered.
|DVD||Singer SGD-001, using S-Video output|
|Display||Teac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Teac 5.1 integrated system|
|Speakers||Teac 5.1 integrated system|