Silenced (or The Crucible) is a movie which released in 2011 and is based on a novel with the same name by Gong ji-young. The movie is starring Gong Yoo and Jung Yu-mi and is directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk.
I can’t remember the last time where I felt this uncomfortable watching a movie. I have been watching a lot of Asian movies in the last months, and some of them were seriously amazing. But Silenced is a different kind of movie which I have to appreciate for different reasons. Reasons which I’m going to explain in this blog. Movies can be a powerful tool to evoke the viewers feelings and motivation. With movies you can create fantastic worlds, but also portray the harsh reality. Silenced took the challenge to show the world, what is happening at Gwangju Inhwa School in South Korea. It’s important to mention that we are not talking about a fictional story, but about a story which is real. This helps to understand the movie even better and makes the achievements of this movie even more impressive. I’m not going to talk about the whole story behind the school but just give you a little insight. I suggest to read about the topic after you have finished the movie. Gwangju Inhwa School is a school for hearing-impaired students. Between 2000 and 2003 it was reported that at least nine students were sexually molested or raped by the teachers. A newly appointed teacher hat alerted the human right groups which started a huge discussion with the case being tossed back and forth.
It’s always difficult to talk about a movie with such an sensitive topic and I believe that opinions about movies like this are always going to be a lot more diverse. But I also believe that movies like this need to exist in order to make the people understand what is happening. To show the people how cruel the world is. The movie starts with Kang In-ho (Gong Yoo), joining the school as the new teacher. He is very excited to teach at the new school but notices that the students are very distant and are trying to avoid him as much as possible. It doesn’t take long until Kang In-ho realizes that something is wrong with the school and the students, which starts the long and dirty fight for the children’s right. This is the shortest summary I can give you for this movie, as I believe everything else needs to be experienced by watching this. With Gong Yoo in the cast, we have one of South Korea’s most talented actor in the movie and as always he is brilliant. Playing the new teacher who is vulnerable but also full of emotions , he does a great job of portraying him in a believable way. But also beside Gong Yoo, the movie has some great talents and specially the children’s were quite impressive. It sounds very macabre to praise them for this role, but I seriously hope that we’ll see more of them.
It’s very hard to talk about the single components of this movie as it’s very different from how I would view the most movies, but there is a lot of things to praise in this movie. Aside from the great acting, the cameraman knows exactly what he is doing. South Korean movies always offer some really interesting camera angles and aesthetics and this movie is not different. The camera is capturing the dark and gritty environment and makes sure the audience never has the chance to escape this atmosphere. The viewer is caught in a cage, where we are forced to experience and feel everything the director was planning to show. I can certainly say, this movie doesn’t hold back. It’s disturbing, it’s heartbreaking and absolutely shattering. I never felt so angry and helpless watching a movie, and this is very praiseworthy. Because these are the emotions that not only the audience felt, but also the characters. For the audience it’s very easy to identify themselves with the teacher and understand his emotions. From the very beginning you are trapped in this school and I find it fascinating how fast it happens. There is barely any build up to reach this point as it immediately captures you. But even when the movie is over, I doubt that you’ll stop thinking about the movie for the rest of the day. It’s very thought provoking, and that’s something which not only I felt, but also many people in South Korea.
When the movie released in South Korea, 4,7 million viewers watched this movie, including the president. The movie actually managed to start a massive public outcry which forced the police to reopen and reinvestigate the case. It reached the point, where two months after the film’s release, Gwangju City officially shut down the school in November 2011. Not only that, several of the teachers were found guilty and got their punishment. It’s really amazing that the movie managed to achieve this. As someone who absolutely loves this medium, I feel very proud to see that movies can have such an impact to help to make this world a better place. Of course there are still so many problems in this world, but a small step in this direction is at least something. This blog wasn’t so much of a review, but I feel like considering the circumstances around this movies, I couldn’t just talk about the movie itself but had to include the impact and meaning of this movie as well. I highly suggest people to watch this movie, because even beside the impact it had, it’s also a really good movie on it’s own.