Film Response: A Taxi Driver

Proper utilization of the available geospatial environment has always proven to be a strategic technique for exceptional visual effect in a film. Such is the case in A Taxi Driver directed by Jang Hoon as an attempt to reconstruct the South Korean Gwangju Massacre. For a movie meant to present the horrors that followed the 1980 march to democracy, it sure does an exceptional job at adding feel-good elements in the face of adversity. The story revolves around two main characters, a taxi driver and his German reporter passenger. The reporter (Thomas Kretschmann) travels from Japan to Seoul pretending to be a missionary but with the intention of recording the brutality of the security forces to broadcast it around the world ultimately.

Recreating South Korean life in the 1980’s can be an arduous task, but Jang Hoon is creative who never backs down from a challenge. At that particular time in history, South Korea just emerged from a protracted conflict with the North that ended with a truce when an armistice was signed. As a result, the United States remained in the country to equip the South Koreans and enable them to fend off any future attack. The costumes used throughout the film are a depiction of the dissonance that the people of South Korean. The Seoul taxi driver (Song Kang-ho) dresses in western style clothing, but it is remarkable how he still embraces traditional Asian culture by dining with his daughter seated on the floor (Taxi Driver Full Movie – (2017), n.d.). Moreover, their entry into Gwangju is another instance where the duality of cultures is presented with persons in the gathering crowd dressed in both traditional Korean garb and western attire.

From the onset, it was clear that the director had made good use of outdoor cinematography to present the remarkable motion picture. Reframing the contrast mainly paid off; evident mainly during scenes involving the duo’s traveling from Seoul, through the paratrooper roadblocks and finally to Gwangju. Throughout the film, an overly-bright background was transformed present an optimum contrast range that elucidated the taxi protest march that ultimately ushered in democracy.

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