The Best Old Movies On a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, March 11-17

03/11/2015 9:44 AM |


Pulgasari (1985)
Directed by Sang-ok Shin
One of the touchstone directors of North Korean films came from South Korea. In 1978 the prolific South Korean filmmaker Shin and his ex-wife, the actress Choi Eun-Hee, were abducted at the command of the young Kim Jong-il, who believed that their work would innovate his nation’s film industry. Shin directed seven films in North Korea and then fled it with Choi shortly before Pulgasari, his last film made there, was finished. North Korea’s first monster movie (shot with a clear nod to Godzilla) unfolds in feudal times, with rebel peasants battling wicked Goryeo Dynasty warlords. An elderly blacksmith creates a lizard creature that springs to life after absorbing a drop of his daughter’s blood. The masses-allied beast proceeds to devour every piece of iron that it can find, and in the process grows first to human size and then into a towering giant. It aids the impoverished farmers in their fight until their iron tools are the only ones left for it to claim. Pulgasari (whose name means “Immortal”) comes to seem like a savior who will do whatever his people require of him—even leave them, if need be. Aaron Cutler (Mar 11, 10pm; Mar 21, 24, 7:30pm at the Spectacle’s “Juche Your Illusion I: Cinema of North Korea”)