THE POLLEN OF FLOWERS
Directed by Ha Kil-jong
New digital restoration
In 1971, director Ha Gil-jong returned to Korea from UCLA’s film school and unleashed one of the most gripping, stylish, and scandalous films Korea had ever seen. Its characters stumble through a suburban home drunk off greed and hopped up on hormones. Their stares wound and their actions – usually of the vicious, duplicitous, or desperate sort – domino into a cruel, unbelievable finish.
The players form a prism of thorny melodrama: Mi-ran gives up her virginity on the day of her first period, Dan-ju seeks to escape his gay lover Hyeon-ma by running away with a woman, Se-ran tries to hold her house together by marrying up her younger sister, all while a housekeeper watches on with motives of her own. The sexual tension is electrified by the power play; that the family compound is called the “Blue House” only makes the political dimension all the more lurid.
Today, THE POLLEN OF FLOWERS is best known as the first Korean film to feature a homosexual relationship, as well as one of the finest Korean films of the 1970s, if not ever. The new digital restoration by the Korean Film Archive should only boost the film’s notoriety. The macabre use of color, the ferocious cross-cutting, and Shin Jung-hyeon’s chilling psychedelic score have never been eerier, to say nothing of the film’s continued resonance as a depiction of class power spiraling out of control. –Brian Hu
Cast: Yun So-ra, Choi Ji-hee, Hah Myung-joong, Nam Koong Won