THE BOW (2005) Ki-Duk Kim
I thought I had already seen the most offensive movie of the year with I am Cuba. I have to struggle to think of another movie that screwed up delivering its message. Let me first describe the plot.
An old man lives on an old barge with a 16 year old girl. He brings tourists on his boat to fish as a way to earn money. The tourists always (ALWAYS) try to molest the young girl at which point the old man chases them off the boat with a bow. At one point a young man comes on the boat and has a decent amount of sense in asking his father what such an old man is doing with such a young woman. His father says the old man adopted the girl at 6 years old and is grooming her for marriage at 17. Aaaaaand for some reason the boy is the only one who is outraged by that or thinks it is, oh I don’t know, evil and illegal and so very very dirty. The boy eventually finds out the old man didn’t adopt the little girl but kidnapped her and has kept her locked away on that boat for ten years. When confronted with this, the girl gets a little pissed. But quicker than you can say My Chemical Romance the old man tries to commit suicide and she rushes to her side in the classic Florence Nightengale routine. Yeah, the girl marries the old man (while still underage), has mystical orgasmic sex, and live at the bottom of the ocean together happily ever after.
I’m sure most the residents of Arizona heard a resounding “WTF!?” some time during the night. I just had to watch the Behind the Scenes featurette to make sure I did not see a movie condoning child rape (spiritual or otherwise).
The director says we have a deep social mores and stigmas preventing relationships between old and young people. People just cannot accept the fact young and old people can have a relationship without seeing something evil and that love is love. Well, no, I don’t have a problem with May/December romances (is that the term, I dunno f*ck it). I also don’t have a problem with seeing it on screen. Hell, Harold and Maude is an absolute classic. I have a problem when an old man kidnappes a six year old girl, locks her away in a boat, doesn’t educate her, and brainwashes her for 10 years into thinking sex with daddy ain’t such a bad thing. Yeah, I got a big f*cking problem with that. That’s not love!
Now I’ve read interpretations that say the old man represents ego and the girl represents soul and the young man ant the ocean is the world and the boat is the physical body and the guests that come fishing are the thoughts and the bow is the consciousness and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. That is trying WAAAAY to hard people. If they are pushing this transcendence of the soul crap, he already did it (and better) with 3-Iron and Spring Summer.
As you may (or may not) know, I love the work of Ki-Duk and that is why it hurts so much more when he makes a huge piece of shit. Even the running time, which is at a usual brisk pace of 90 minutes, feels like ages. Ki-Duk’s pacing which is usually deliberate and almost poetic (if you can describe pacing in that way) is plodding and repetitive. Oh man, this was a bad movie. A very very bad movie.