A sixty and something year old captain has been raising for ten years a girl since she was six in his old fishing vessel that is permanently anchored offshore with the intention of marrying her on her seventeenth birthday. He survives bringing fishermen to fish in the vessel and predicting the future using his bow and shooting arrows in a Buddhist painting on the hull of the vessel while the girl moves back and forth in a swing. He also uses the bow and arrows to protect the girl against sexual assault of the fishermen. They live happily until the day that a teenage student comes to the ship and the girl feels attracted for him. When the teenager discovers that the girl was abducted when she was six and does not know the world, he returns to the vessel to bring the girl back to her parents.
“The Bow” is a peaceful, ruminant, poetic movie. The entire story takes place on the old man’s boat. The vastness of the ocean simultaneously creates a feeling of isolation, warmth and safety. This duality, runs through the entire movie. The movie title, for example, refers to both, the bow as a lethal, destructive tool, and as a string instrument, with which the old man can produce delightful sounds. Good and evil, black and white, yin and yang – one can’t live without the other. Of course, this symbolism centres in the movie’s massage, which actually is not very easy to get.
“The Bow” is full of symbols. For one thing, there is this target in form of a Korean flag, or a walkman, which is the girl’s first contact to the outside-world. On the boat’s side, there is a Buddhist picture, on which the old man shoots arrows, while the girl moves in front of it. This very strange way of foretelling the future is not only full of tension, because the
girl’s life is at stake, but also portrays the trust both have in each other.
If you happen to have a weakness for Kim Ki-duk’s movies, as such, then “The Bow” will satisfy you. Everyone else should at least give it a try. If you’ve got nothing against drama with some sort of slow going, you could become a Kim-fan.
Subtitles: english .srt .idx .sub