“Be it a rock or a grain of sand…

in water, the both sink as the same.” After class on Thursday, I couldn’t quite get our discussion(or lack thereof) of Oldboy out of my mind.   This is a movie I’m very familiar with, as i own it on dvd, so It strikes me as odd that I wouldn’t be able to answer the big question about “the meaning” of this film. I suppose I’ve gotten into the dirty habit lately, of watching movies without actually pondering the films subtext or “deeper meaning.” But after giving it some thought, I’ve come to believe the aforementioned quote is basically the essence of the film.

Even when we do something that is seemingly innocuous to us, our actions may have destructive ramifications, that extend beyond our comprehension at the moment. This is the case with Oh Deh-Su, for Lee Woo-Jin says of him, “his tongue got my sister killed.” Oh Deh-Su didn’t know that these ostensibly harmless incidents could cause so much harm to others. The film’s about owning up to your mistakes, no matter the cost.

Also, another prominent motif in the film is that , some things are better left unknown.  Oh Deh Su has the opportunity early on in the film to murder Woo-Jin Lee, but instead opts to attempt to figure out the circumstances that got him incarcerated. This leads to the gift wrapped box presented to Oh Deh Su, that once opened, could never be forgotten. That touches upon the subject of memory as well, and how we  manipulate stories to our advantage or disadvantage. This is further investigated with the hypno-therapist.

For those who have seen the film, what are your interpretations? If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend that you do as it’s as visually compelling as the story itself. Despite the dark subject matter, it’s often surprisingly funny as well.

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.”


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