Under the SunHD
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About the Movie
"My father says that Korea is the most beautiful country... Korea is the land of the rising sun," says eight-year-old schoolgirl Zin-mi. Despite continuous interference by government handlers, director Vitaly Mansky still managed to document life in Pyongyang, North Korea in this fascinating portrait of one girl and her parents in the year as she prepares to join the Korean Children's Union on the 'Day Of The Shining Star' (Kim Jong-Il's birthday). As the family receives instruction on how to be the ideal patriots, Mansky's watchful camera capture details from comrades struggling to stay awake during an official event to Zin-mi's tears at a particularly grueling dance lesson.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 28
- Fresh: 26
- Rotten: 2
- Average Rating: 7.7/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: The movie raises disquieting questions, including a few that Mr. Mansky might not have meant to.
Fresh: An awkwardly revealing act of subversion that is arresting however you take it: as propaganda deconstructed, failed or turned into a tragicomedy whose most stinging indictments lie mostly in what remains unseen.
Fresh: "Under The Sun" also reminds us that, their dissimilar society notwithstanding, the North Koreans are not some alien race but people like us, trying to get by the best they can.
Fresh: Under The Sun is a fascinating study in state propaganda and the darker truth that hovers just outside the frame.
Under the Sun
North Korea has to be one of the most strangely repressive societies ever. Eastern European filmmakers were hired by the North Korean government to create a positive documentary about the country, but they soon noticed how people were being coached, so they secretly kept the cameras running during these coaching sessions. The unscripted scenes they captured show people afraid to express any genuine emotion, the most striking scene being one of parents and their elementary school-aged children waiting for a subway train after the induction ceremony. No one is interacting or saying a word, and when they get on the train, they sit silent staring into space. A completely silent crowd of parents with kids! Having ridden subways in many countries, I find this disturbingly unnatural. It's not Communism--people in China and Cuba talk and laugh in public--and it's not Korean culture, because South Koreans also talk and laughl in public. What is most mind-blowing is that the North Korean government evidently approved the film and didn't mind having their people portrayed as intimidated robot-like creatures.