Kim Jong Il Funeral
December 28, 2011 by staff
It’s worth noting that the scenes coming out of North Korea are probably only the second time live images have been broadcast from the hermit nuclear state. The first time was in 2000 when Kim Jong-il met the South Korean president Kim Dae-jung as part of the stuttering reconciliation process.
State funerals are exercises in symbolism – and one thing was very clear. Kim Jong-il’s son led the mourners. When Kim Il-sung, the founder of the world’s only hereditary Marxist “republic” died in 1994, Kim Jong-il was not even present. Today’s message is crystal clear. The succession is not in doubt. Kim Jong-un has the lead.
The funeral offered a good lesson in epic film-making. The grand long shots – cars with flashing lights, giant picture of the Dear Deceased carried like the Ark of the Covenant, jack-boot soldiers – were intercut with intimate shots. The grieving son, head bowed, eyes down, hand on the car carrying the coffin and then weeping faces in the crowd.
Those who have followed Kim Jong-il’s career shouldn’t be surprised by the cinematic influences. When I co-produced a film about the North for the French TV station Arte, a North Korean diplomat gave me and the director, David Carr-Brown, a surprising little brown book – The Cinema and Directing, written by Kim Jong-il.
This 70-page course starts aggressively. “If cinematic art is to be developed to meet the requirements of the Juche age, it is necessary to bring about a fundamental change in film-making.” Kim Jong-il went on to claim that “capitalist and dogmatic ideas” still bogged down the “system and methods of direction”.
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