The Host – Week 1

For this week’s screening for BCM320 we watched S.Korean monster film the Host (dir. Bong, 2006).

During the actual screening of the Host I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. It was my first time seeing it, I’ve watched Korean content before and am used to watching movies with English subtitles (growing up as a first generation Australian Born Chinese person with English as their first language has made me accustomed to the English subtitling of non-English films), but the fact that it was a monster movie initially threw me off. I’ve never been a big fan of the monster genre; Godzilla and King Kong never really did it for me, and through these subpar experiences I fully acknowledge that I have certain prejudices against monster movies. However, my opinions and attitudes towards the Host changed positively when I noticed the central themes that run through the Host.

Some of the central themes that were explored in the Host that I responded positively to were themes of family, anti-authoritarian and anti-US imperialism. Being someone who has had the privilege of travelling to many various countries and having had the opportunity to live in a few of them in the past few years has made me more aware of the power, presence and responsibility of social/political/economical structures (authority) and the US (as the primary cultural authority in the “West”). Exposure to these experiences has developed my opinions about concepts such as authority and US imperialism, and I believe due to these experiences and personal values, I reacted more strongly to the themes of anti-authority and anti-US imperialism that were shown in the Host than perhaps some of the other audience members. I also noted that by having these strong reactions to these specific elements in the film, it drastically changed my perception and therefore overall experience of the film, luckily for me, for the better.

As an Asian-Australian watching the Host (a South Korean film), I couldn’t help but think that my responses to watching the film would be intrinsically different to many of my classmates. In what specific ways were my responses different? That’s harder to ascertain without having had the opportunity of interviewing my classmates. I would presume that perhaps my sympathies lying towards the family is nuanced by the connection that I share with these characters; namely that we are Asian. I want to acknowledge that in no way am I saying that my classmates weren’t sympathetic to these characters, but rather my sympathies are also contextually layered with an understanding that these characters are Asian, like myself.

The live-tweeting whilst watching a movie for the first time was an interesting experience, especially since I don’t understand Korean and time spent looking at my phone tweeting, was time not spent reading English subtitles. In a lot of ways I felt live-tweeting broke the suspension of disbelief within the movie, because my mind was constantly jumping between tweeting and watching the Host. However, I found that live-tweeting also made the act of watching the Host a more critical experience. I found I was more aware of central themes, and found that my critical thinking and analysis skills were significantly more active than when I’m watching a movie in a dark cinema. I believe that this congnisance was due to not only my own tweeting, but also due to engaging with other audience member’s thoughts and opinions on the Host. That in itself made for an enjoyable yet interesting experience. When I watch a movie, I always treat it as quite a personal experience, even when watching it at the cinemas with friends. But by having the addition of live-tweeting, it transformed this independent/private activity to a quasi-social activity; you had the option to engage should you desire, but you also had the option to sit and enjoy the movie in solitude and silence. I think it’s important to acknowledge that we were live-tweeting whilst watching the Host, because I think that contributes and changes our perception of the movie.

 

Keiden Cheung

 

 

 

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