Kim Ki-duk, the most controversial Korean director, returns to the Venice Film Festival with Moebius, an unsettling and convoluted chronicle about the disintegration of families, clung onto in part between a psychological thriller, a grotesque comedy, and a perverse ode to the pleasures of sadomasochism. The film begins with the mother, who, consumed by hate for her cheating husband, wants to emasculate him as a form of retaliation. Seeing that she isn’t able to do so, she alternatively chooses to dismember her son to hurt her husband. The violence unleashes a series of events that culminate in a dramatic epilogue of destruction.
“I asked myself what a family is,” says the director. “I also wanted to examine what the desires of a man and a woman are, and to understand the symbolic value of the genital organs. I arrived at the conclusion that family, desires, and genital organs are one from the start. Originally we are born in desire and we reproduce in desire. My reflection is above all about incest, and that visceral bond that links each of us to our own parents in an infinite circle, like the Moebius strip.”
To narrate this extreme story, Kim Ki-duk renounces dialogues, but between moans of pleasure and screams of pain, it’s not exactly a silent film. “It’s something new that I wanted to try,” declares the director. “Generally in my films there are few dialogues, but this time I completely eliminated them because I wanted the public to be able to understand the film solely through its images.”
Nonetheless Kim seems fully aware of how ridiculous this modern Greek tragedy can appear. The film, however, remains a work of lucid art; a powerful metaphor of a contemporary society that is morbidly obsessed with sex. But also a challenge to all taboos generated by society. Therefore it’s not surprising that the film has been censored in Korea. “In Korean society, sex is still relegated in the sphere of the ‘forbidden’, and that is why about 21 scenes from my film have been ‘mutilated’,” concludes the Director.

Monica Straniero

Kim Ki-duk