August 11, 2014

Pyongyang... in flow-motion.



"How were you guys allowed to film in Pyongyang?... Were there restrictions on what was allowed to be filmed?... Isn’t this all fake? You don’t see the real North Korea.... Are people allowed to travel to North Korea?"

45 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

Among the immoral ways to use film talent, making propaganda for brutal dictators is one.

SteveR said...

Looks great, I bet healthcare is free.

Quaestor said...

Nuremberg looked nice, too.

phx said...

Starring Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa.

Nonapod said...

Glorious Best Korea! Who wouldn't want to live in such splendor!

Will Cate said...

Leni Riefenstahl would be so proud.

tds said...

A bit empty for an Asian city. Most locals probably on holidays in concentration camps somewhere in the country. Or locked somewhere for duration of filming.

EDH said...

New N Korean slogan: "Do you have any idea how fucking busy we are?"

The soundtrack sounds like it was intended to be a bustling, upbeat version of the menacing timpani drum music from Team America: World Police when the scene cuts to North Korea. Compare:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDGju21LPUs&t=0m5s

"Now take your weapons of mass destruction and get the fuck out of here!"

madAsHell said...

Lots of uniformed police.

Alexander said...

Ah, excellent. I see we are working hard to establish the Duranty Award for Excellence in Film.

Well, I for one highly applaud. Now granted, I personally am a conservative white male Christian and thus do not deserve to live in the delight and splendor of True Korea. But if any of my more worthy and enlightened countrymen should seek the progressive utopia Pyongyang has been shown to be, I only wish you the best of encouragement.

cathy said...

Pyongyang is a restricted area. That's where the loyalists and military, the people who get the jobs and benefits, live. Why shouldn't it feel fine. Whatever dire picture many reports give, the thing is, like this scene, life is pretty good for some people. It's not going to be easy to change the system at all.

Kelly said...

It was so empty. The busiest scene is in the subway. The bus was empty all but for the driver. The Norks probably aren't big contributors to global warming.

Larry J said...

tds said...
A bit empty for an Asian city. Most locals probably on holidays in concentration camps somewhere in the country. Or locked somewhere for duration of filming.


I can't watch this video right now but I remember a clandestine video shot in North Korea several years ago. There was a uniformed woman digilently working as a human traffic light. Funny thing, though, is there were no cars. She stood at her post directing non-existent traffic, which in North Korea is probably a pretty good gig. At least she looked well fed.

Quaestor said...

Formidable filmmaking talent in the service of vicious tyranny is nothing new, unfortunately. It started with Sergei Eisenstein, was refined by Leni Riefenstahl, and it continues today. Both Eisenstein and Riefenstahl were filmmakers with much drive and vision, but little political acumen or tact. That Battleship Potemkin justified the Bolsheviks or Triumph of the Will made Hitler a god was of little consequence to these two. They were working in film, that's what mattered to them.

This absolutely tone-deaf homage to Pyongyang is the work of Canadian JT Singh (he doesn't use conventional initials), a self-described "urban-geographic explorer." Like Riefenstahl Singh apparently doesn't have a political axe to grind. He just likes cities that exhibit comfort, affluence and central planning. That Pyongyang is those things only because the rest of North Korea is a cesspit is lost on Mr. Singh. He doesn't care.

We have our own versions of Eisenstein and Riefenstahl here, but ours are much worse. They know better. They can get honest work if they want it, but Moore and Stone continue to pollute minds because they revel in the power to do so. That's pure evil in my book.

CWJ said...

The politics have already been commented on so I'll stick to the film. It's pretty cool. I liked it. But the colors were too vibrant and solid in many places. Very unnatural. Could this have been done with a filter alone? Or is this some sort of Ted Turner colorization or rotoscoping? Anyway I wonder what it really looked like to the naked eye?

hawkeyedjb said...

Just as Michael Moore "believes" he was allowed to see the real Cuban health care system, Singh probably "believes" he was allowed to visit the real North Korea. They may or may not know the truth, but if they did, they certainly would not tell it. Theirs is talent placed in service to the ideal of human misery.

St. George said...

Ah, the one peaceful place on the planet.

Quaestor said...

CWJ wrote: Could this have been done with a filter alone? Or is this some sort of Ted Turner colorization or rotoscoping?

To the best of my knowledge rotoscope is an animation technique in which live action footage is traced frame by frame onto cells. I suppose it's possible to rotoscope colored filters onto a video frame, to make this building look pink and the one beside it look orange, but it would be a superfluous effort given the color space tools built into Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas, Adobe Premier Pro, and others.

Perhaps Singh did color enhance those panorama shots, but given the beehive like organization the Norks are famous for it's just as likely that the whole city got a fresh coat of paint just for this video.

buwaya said...

Just a way to lure in the next batch of hostages, for whenever they need the cash or the publicity.

lemondog said...

No obesity.

One can see various structures with Google satellite

Anonymous said...

Communists have a thing for fancy subway stations. This one looked like a knockoff of the Leningrad subway.

William said...

There's a Danish movie called The Red Chapel. It details the experience of a trio of Danish comedians who visit North Korea. Two of the Danes were Koreans who were adopted at a young age by Danish foster parents......It's a very hard eyed look at The North Korean capital. The filmmaker points out that the city is mostly a stage set for the big parades,and the carefully selected inhabitants of the city are extras.......I highly recommend the movie. It's funny and scary and rueful.

FleetUSA said...

Certainly not much traffic for a national Capitol

Blackbeard said...

Read "Nothing to Envy" (http://nothingtoenvy.com/) for a true, horrifying, picture of life in North Korea. The people who made money by making this terrible piece of propaganda should have to live there.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Nothing to Envy" is a great book.

Can we see the camps for political dissidents in flow-motion?

Anonymous said...

Animator Guy DeLisle was assigned to North Korea to work on a low budget cartoon project. He wrote a "graphic novel" about his stay in Pyongyang which is candid, irreverent, and both funny and chilling. Having read that, I couldn't help noticing that this film highlights all the exact spots DeLisle was ferried around to by his minders during official tours. This film is a blatant piece of propaganda, even the disclaimers from the filmmaker give that away. But I am afraid that many young idealistic people who can't remember what life was like for people behind the Iron Curtain want to believe North Korea is just a "misunderstood" underdog, abused by capitalistic superpowers, and will buy this and any future propaganda hook, line, and sinker.

Freeman Hunt said...

I hope the next Korean this filmmaker meets spits in his face.

Anonymous said...

CGI.

Alexander said...

Paul - subways are massive government projects, they 'lock' central planning for decades into the future as there's no fluidity to where the traffic can go, they cost a lot of money, and they keep the masses underground.

It's no wonder that communists love them so.

April Apple said...

Senator Tom Harkin(D-IA) would fall for it. Easy.

April Apple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Insufficiently Sensitive said...

That's the triumph of urban planning that Scientific American had rhapsodies about, years ago, considering it the height of progressive rule of the subjects by an oh-so-enlightened leadership group.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Communists have a thing for fancy subway stations.

But 'progressives' are forced to make do with mere Light Rail. They dream of the day when they'll be promoted to administer the High-Speed Rail boondoggles, as a reward for their years of mindless brown-nosing of collectivist politicians.

Deb said...

So modern! So beautiful and clean! All so happy! Smiling children! Thank you Dear Leader!

Be said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Be said...

Interesting Social Commentary.

(Edited to delete a surfeit of Hard Returns.)

Be said...

This is being more marketed to the EU Probably, most likely, France (interestingly enough the folks who are buying up as much as possible in the US; the whys and wherefores I don't understand) or places interested in their zeitgeist.

Pyongyang could be Paris, only Cleaner and with more respect to the Old, despite the Soviet-like plazas.

Architecture is Subject to Change. Fashion, maybe not so much.

Cedarford said...

Of course much is staged propaganda....

But wouldn't it be nice if a nation like Nigeria, Haiti showed they were capable of creating a clean, orderly city like Pyongyang, Geneva, Stockholm pre-3rd World invasion, Singapore, Kobe, etc..

Even in America, I think many would leap at the idea of being citizens and property owners gathered together for recreating a ruined city like Detroit, Oakland, Newark into something as nice looking as Pyongyang. Whatever laws and evictions of nere do wells it took. It might be what certain freedom-loving libertarian assholes hate - the "monitoring police state of Singapore or worse".

But the lure of a clean, crime free city with no parasites allowed? That would be an interesting experiment. An American metropolitan area where much of the Holy Constitution is suspended...people who are not citizens of the city in good standing can be expelled on whim and denied further entry.

I think you would get many people volunteering to live under very restrictive conditions - to get booming property values, safety from crime, and a clean and ordered environment.

Cedarford said...

And spare me the Ben Franklin cliche from 1759 about people trading away liberty for a little temporary safety deserving neither.
Ben Franklin of the Revolutionary War time was our version of Stalin.
Different circumstances require different approaches.


Be said...

Let us not forget Geography. How does one map the Taedong against the Seine?

Screw the US, when the English, French, Germans, etc (Not to mention the folks who aren't considered US allies) are perfectly happy to make deals and build factories, not to mention send folks over to teach them how to "build the Machines of Capital," to paraphrase a Dead Russian favorite Movie Guy.

Be said...

Cedarford - I feel as though our posts are an operatic counterpoint al duet. (Sorry.)

Anonymous said...

It's really surreal that every single person in a computer lab is wearing a suit, like it's the 1950's.

Here is a better view of North Korea:

http://imgur.com/gallery/zsJXU

http://imgur.com/gallery/3Ez3M

The second one shows a picture of a room with modern computers. Notice they are all television sets without any wires plugging them in.

John Lynch said...

Pyongyang will become a crime-ridden slum when the regime falls. That's the historical pattern.

By perverting Korean culture for its own ends the dictatorship is undermining the legitimacy of all authority, not just Communism.

It's going to end very badly.

Eric said...

So little traffic. This must be a very enlightened place. Yeah, enlightened.

jaed said...

That city looks as though a neutron bomb went off in it.