Home > Film

‘Burning’ is story about youths that speaks with the heart

By Yoon Min-sik

  • Published : May 4, 2018 - 15:29
  • Updated : May 4, 2018 - 15:29

Watching a Lee Chang-dong movie is not exactly a “kick back and relax” type of experience, as the director challenges viewers by posing questions as a form of communication, inviting them to ponder relevant issues in modern society like one of ethics.

“Burning,” starring Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun and rookie actress Jeon Jong-seo, is a mystery drama film that in itself is shrouded in mystery. In a press conference held before heading to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival -- where the film will compete for Palme d’Or -- the cast and Lee offered more clues.

A scene from “Burning” (CGV Arthouse)

“This film is a story of youths, and one I wished to communicate with them through their sentiments and emotions,” Lee said, adding that although questions about ethics may usually involve intellect, this movie is closer to the heart.

“I wanted to take a different approach than to talk about ethics. It is more sentimental.”

The movie is based on “Barn Burning,” a short story by Haruki Murakami inspired by William Faulkner’s short story of the same name, which explores a mystery about a man who burned down a barn and the metaphor it stands for.

“I wanted to expand the mystery to the world where young people live,” he said. “Looking closely into everyday lives, it could feel familiar but the tension is there. The idea was the thriller -- the mystery in our daily lives.”

Working with the director for the first time, Yeun said that despite the creative license of the film adaptation, the director managed to maintain the feeling of the original story. He added that Lee managed to “color it” with elements of Korea while weaving the story into a universal tale.

Being the youngest of the star trio, Jeon said she identifies with the story of youths that “Burning” conveys.

“There is the fury and sense of suppression that we didn’t even known we had as youths. I think a lot of the things that we feel in our daily lives are in the movie.

Lee said the movie also invites viewers to think about the movie itself, with an abandoned greenhouse working as a metaphor for movies as a medium. He added that this movie may feel different compared to his previous pieces.

“Burning” will premiere at the Cannes festival on May 16, and will open in local theaters on May 17.

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)