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Little Forest: The Most Difficult Quest

Original poster.

Year: 2018

Director: Yim Soon-rye

Starring: Kim Tae-ri, Ryu Jun-yeol

Genre: Drama

When: 6 Nov 20197 p. m., Cinema House, Sofia

or 9 Nov 2019 – 5 p. m., Lucky Cinema House, Plovdiv

What is there left for a person to do once they are caught in the iron embrace of the city, which knocks the breath out of them, and offers no comfort? At the moment when society’s eyes are fixed upon them, ready to point at every mistake, yet never willing to lend a helping hand? When living has been reduced to survival in the atmosphere of fierce competition, ambition and fear of failure, and all rescue plans have fallen apart? In such a situation, what better option is left than to leave the city for the forest?

Image: Stop-motion.

It was precisely this decision to which Hye-won resorted, leaving the megapolis Seoul that has offered her nothing more than menacing piles of stress, disappointment and always the same dull servings of tasteless ready-made food, in order to search for her little forest beyond the boundaries of the cold anonymous realm of the city. In Hye-won’s little forest juicy red tomatoes grow, the cabinets are full of herbs and spices, and the snow piles up in the yard undisturbedly, while four paws find their way around it. Yet the forest has always been a frontier space where nightmarish creatures and dangerous traps are lurking in the shadows, in the form of one’s biggest fears. This is what Hye-won will have to face, embarking on her most difficult quest – the one for meaning, both personal and universal.

Image: Stop-motion.

Little Forrest is hardly a classic quest movie. There are no clashes with almighty enemies in it, nor defeating cunning opponents or gaining magical items. On the contrary, its muted tones paint frame by frame the quiet scenes of the daily village life, filled with labor and hardships, which is all the more enchanting due to its traditional atmosphere, so remote to the western viewer. The camera is mostly eager to follow the preparation of the food, which doubles and triples its significance from simply meeting the immediate biological needs, which was the leading purpose in the big city, to the most basic form of expressing care for another person and building connections with the previous generations. This peculiar puzzle of numerous details and silent gestures, alien to all unnecessary wordiness, is inevitably reflected in the mirror of the innermost and simple human cares and dreams. And this is the area in which the Koreans are indisputable masters, as the silent masterpieces of Kim Ki-dok and the literary universe of the writer Shin Kyung-sook bear evidence.

Image: Stop-motion.

Despite that, the quest is still apparent, yet in an unusual form. And the most difficult question narrows than to deciding how one should live their life – by following the beaten path of one’s parents or by turning to exactly the opposite direction, by obeying to the strict social prescriptions for a successful life, or by filling this category with one’s own meaning…

Image: Stop-motion.

Thus, amidst the embroidery threads of small details, rich with the aromas of the garden herbs, and the authentic atmosphere of the natural sceneries, flashes the essential question of the search for meaning and the need for a personal recipe for reaching it. And there are no easy answers to this question – the viewer must find them on their own.

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