Kim Ki-Duk: The Painter Becoming Filmmaker

By Sybaris

It isn’t a common place to say that Kim Ki-Duk (Chungyangmyeon, 1960 – Riga, 2020) was one of the most interesting, controversial, and singural filmmakers of our times. His particular treatment of the moving image reveals the deepness of his gaze, particularly in the way he looked the life both as an imagen and as complex narrative in which the most complex essences of the human being are hidden.

Kim Ki-Duk was born from a humble family in South Korea, where he become interested in painting. His childhood was marked by his passion of drawing his sourroundings while creating stories that he thought would turn into paintings. After his military service in the South Korean Army, when he was 25 started to practice painting and was part of a Buddhist temple.

Although he left the painting for creating widly beautiful films, in his work one can see a very pictorial technique in which the visual aspect takes a leading role as part of the narrative. Most of his framing are like moving paintings.

One of the most characteristc aspects in his films was the the preference of the body expressivenes and the power of images over the word. Dialogues were almost absent in Kim Ki-Duk’s movies, he always prefered explore the deepest and darkests thoughts and feelings of the human being through the language of the human body and its relationship with the surrounding.

Kim Ki-Duk started as a filmmaker with Cocodrile (1996), and then gained international recognition with 3-Iron (2004) and Samaritan Girl (2004) with which he won the Golden Bear in the Berlin Film Festival. Some of his most importat films are The Isle (2000), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2003), Poongsan (Writer, 2011), Pieta (2012) —with which he won the Golden Lion in the Venice Film Festival—, Moebius (2013), The Net (2016), Human, Space, Time and Human (2018), among others.

Kim Ki-Duk died on December 11 victim of Covid-19.