Stories that involves visual arts, in my opinion, is less popular than those that has to do with political schemes—especially if it’s set in the 18th century Joseon Era. Nevertheless, the story behind Miindo (English Translation: Portrait of a Beauty), and why it is called as such, was enough to pique my interest.
|Miindo (Portrait of a Beauty) Theatrical Poster | Wikipedia|
Miindo is a 2008 South Korean film that is based on Lee Jeong Myeong’s novel Painter of the Wind. The movie revolves around Shin Yun Bok (player by Kim Gyu Ri), also known by her pen name Hye Won, who entered the royal painting institute by his father’s command.
Apparently, Yun Bok is the daughter of a former court painter, Shin Han Pyong, who seeks to settle an old score with his former pupil and now popular painter Kim Hang Do (portrayed by Kim Young Ho). Everything was under control, until Yun Bok met a merchant named Kang Mu (played by Kim Nam Gil). As their love story blossoms, the greed and jealousy of other people tried to bring them apart.
Story-wise, Miindo has a great plot and an ample time for character exploration and establishment. It is one movie that viewers will find intriguing and moving. Here’s why:
- As mentioned earlier, the movie has a great plot. Every character’s actions and reasoning are justified by the circumstances and previous actions. Han Pyong wants to restore his pride that he seeks revenge, and the only way he can do it is through his kid. Kang Mu was able to expose Yun Bok to the world that the latter would want to explore it with him. Lastly, Hang Do was left brokenhearted and jealous that he wants Kang Mu out of his and Yun Bok's lives.
- I also salute Kim Nam Gil for being a natural. He was able to pull out a playful brass mirror maker who knows the ins and outs of the street. His facial features and physique suits him well to portray the role of Kang Mu. In addition, his fighting skills in the movie made his being a man of the streets more convincing.
- There is a good balance between show and tell in this movie. It was immediately established why Han Pyong has an angst against Hang Do without the need to stretch the whole movie. The progress of Kang Mu and Yun Bok’s love story was also visible, that’s why viewers won’t be left wondering how it all began and how they ended up as lovers. Moreover, loose ends were tied through flashbacks instead of confrontations, which make the rest of the story understandable with less talks and the ending quite neat.
- It may be a small thing for some, but the gisaengs in the movie are not pretty enough for me. Korean courtesans, just like Geishas in Japan, are typically coveted by their beauty. The movie may not be revolving around them, but they are part of the story. Or perhaps it’s just me, setting a Hwang Jin Yi standard whenever I see a gisaeng.
- I also find the adultery in Buddhist temple quite disturbing. Although the movie revolves around greed and lust, indicating that some monks allow people to commit adultery in their temples doesn’t make sense to me, let alone them having sex with married woman. After all, they are priests who were “trained” to win over physical pleasures.
- Lastly, Hang Do made one thing that I don’t understand. Why would he shot Kang Mu with a poisoned arrow and give him the antidote later? If I were in his shoes, I would have killed him point blank so that I can have Yun Bok for my self.
Lastly, it taught me that art is not just a thing that only the rich people can appreciate. It is actually around us. If we know how to open ourselves to the world and explore, we will be able to see the real beauty that lies within and beneath it.