1993 [KOREAN]

Drama / Music

IMDb Rating 7.6 10 969

Keywords:   musical, 1960s, folk singer, pansori

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 30, 2022 at 02:27 PM



1.02 GB
Korean 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 53 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Polaris_DiB 10 / 10

The music will always live because of this movie

Not since Harlan County, USA have I seen a movie that so made me want to buy the soundtrack where selling a soundtrack wasn't the point. Sopyonje, Kwon-Taek Im's labor of love, is a movie with a very specific cultural framing device to tell a recognizably archetypical story--or rather, three of them. We have the starving artist in the father, the parted siblings story in the children, and the musicians-standing-in-for-country symbolism all in one. However, the overarching narrative functions, as familiar as they may be, always take second place to the power of the music itself. Out of sheer surprise did I come to learn about, hear, appreciate, and end up really wanting to experience again the Korean folk style known as Pansori.

Im's best approach in here is his visual, as he seeks to engage the audience in Pansori without adhering strictly to musical conventions or get too expressionistic in the editing, sticking closely to the performative aspect of Pansori alone by letting the camera stand back and the music do its own work. That does not leave the movie lacking for visual elements, however, as this is one of those obnoxiously gorgeous pieces of celluloid where one wouldn't mind pasting a single frame as a piece of art unto itself on the wall. My favorite shot involves a wide angle long take as the full family, united, sing and dance along a curved road as they progressively get closer the camera, at which point they split to a more stagy left-and-right movement and maintain that space for the entirety of the song--which is all about how they are a family trying to figure out what road they are supposed to follow in the first place. The song ends; the scene cuts--and we never see which road they took next.

Sopyonje comes at a point in Korean history where modernization, like in many other countries, brought it's hopes and its fears. The characters speak carefully about democracy, not sure if they should trust it, while still trying to fight to be regarded as equals; the folk music of Pansori is in decline and in some cases even literally overshouted by other modern sounds, but the father's love for Pansori bypasses the passionate and becomes downright abusive. Nevertheless Im succeeds most at doing what he seeks to do in the long run--keep Pansori alive by introducing it to international audiences.

Sopyonje was not expected to be a huge moneymaker in Korea, only opening in one theatre. It hit some international festivals and ended up becoming world renowned. If anything, there's the true underdog story if the actual narrative in the movie seems too clichéd and sappy for you.


Reviewed by Atavisten 9 / 10

Art of pansori

Just like its Chinese brother 'Huang tu di' by Chen Kaige is 'Sopyonje' driven forward by its songs, but unlike the former is not the content of the songs most important, the art of the singing is. This art is called pansori, and is a Korean tradition with cousins in China and Japan. In 'Chiwaseon' did I'm Kwon-Taek portray the mad drunken master of a special calligraphy school, here he portrays the mad father that refuses to let go of the art as new times are dawning and has ambitions higher than anyone could accomplish and end up hurting his closest.

I'm Kwon-Taek is a true master at display here. Granted that you are interested in these arts, this movie will hold a strong grip on you from beginning to end by the power of its songs. The lead actress did an amazing job full of emotion through small gestures. Now, please get me one of those scrolls and a record of pansori, please.

Reviewed by NIXFLIX-DOT-COM 10 / 10

Haunting and Beautiful

One of the very best films to come out of South Korea. SOPYONJE tells the tale of pansori singers trying to survive in a world that no longer cares about them. The plight of the pansori singers is an allegory for traditional South Korea, a country being overrun by modernization and the Western world in the aftermath of World War II.

The film's soundtrack alone is worth watching. I've never heard such haunting and beautiful singing in my life. Truly, a masterpiece that deserves to be remembered.

10 out of 10

(go to for a more detailed review of this film and reviews of other foreign movies)

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