This time his mode is a blackly comic vampire movie and Park fully exploits the angle of a beast that must feast on those below him in the food chain. Being who he is, the director makes his central character a priest whose nature as a bloodsucker is a result of his good intentions and whose lifelong mission gradually fails as he is forced to live a new life in contradiction of it. The priest stops being just a man just as he starts doing so and his growing awareness of greater strength and superiority causes him to explore his instincts and his sublimated desires. This brings him an illicit affair with Tae-ju, an orphan who has become the servant of her adoptive family who is at first afraid of his sanguine pursuits but then chooses a maddening empowerment by sharing them with him.
I think the lack of impact is due to a focus that goes through the whole thematic gamut. Park wants to explore the personal, the religious, the global and the specific, the tragic and the comic, and his film is a mere tool to achieve this wide ranging discussion. There is no doubt that this bravura approach is what distinguished his previous work from that of pretentious hacks, but perhaps here the lack of coherence, the sheer length of the film, and the widely varying tone make Thirst less of a whole project and more a series of striking visual and philosophical sketches.
The film concludes itself in a wonderful sequence where the survival instinct battles the moral response, and the final moments are marked by a kind of poetry that the whole project would have benefited from as a coherent approach. Like any Park film you really should see this, but ironically Thirst did not sate my appetite for the director's best work.
Technical SpecsPalisades Tartan offer Thirst on a region B dual layer disc with an AVC/MPEG-4 coded transfer which has a frame rate of 23.98 per second and a file size of 32.4GB. Sound is offered through a single master audio track in Korean with optional English subtitles which annoyingly cover even the parts of dialogue that are in English. The transfer is presented at 2.35:1 and the image carries a light pleasing grain with little if any in the way of obvious digital manipulation with the film. Edges are natural, the colour scheme carries an appropriate blue tint and fine detail in and out of shadow is strong. Black levels are a little lacking but the night time sequences are rarely affected by this.
Special featuresThirst comes with a rather well designed menu which offers standard navigation options with scenes from the film accompanied by some of the score playing under them. All of the extra features are offered in high definition with the interview and the Q and A offered in 1080I, and all of the extras have lossless sound. Park talks in Korean in both features, answering questions from the audience at the National Film and Television School and responding to the daily Mirror's Jessica Mellor in the interview. Park talks about the importance of using intelligent actors and then not over directing them, the reading of Tae-ju as a femme fatale, and he affirms the importance to him of thorough storyboarding so that he can collaborate effectively with his DP. Interestingly he gives plenty of credit to Jeong Seo-gyeong for her contribution to his last three films in the interview with Mellor, and less interestingly answers some obvious questions about genres and plot.
Finally there is a full HD trailer of the film.
SummaryThirst is a philosophically messy delight and Palisades presentation on this blu-ray contains a very good transfer and some exclusive HD extras.
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