"I was depressed because of COVID-19 but I felt like the movie comforts me."
"It would be better to watch this movie with families.”
- Reviews from Naver
The film “Beyond that Mountain” (저 산 너머) that opened on April 30 by director Choi Jong-tae. It has been making headlines as a family-healing movie this May, which is family month in Korea, when everyone is exhausted because of COVID-19. According to the integrated computer network of movie tickets, the movie has also topped the Korean film box office after the second weekend of its release, with ticket sales of well over 100,000 on May 24.
The film is about the childhood of the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, who was poor but always dreamed about a happy future in a loving family. It depicts him as a pure seventeen-year-old student in a Catholic boarding school longing for his home and the wise guidance from his single mother, while growing into his faith within the Church. Especially, the figure of Kim Sou- hwan’s mother, who endured a tough life to protect her family and her son during the Japanese colonial era, adds poignance to the film.
The scenes from “Beyond that Mountain” are various and include scenery from a place where Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan actually lived. Also, natural scenery such as the river at the beginning of the film and its sandy beach Kim walked along on the way to school provide visual beauty to audiences. It is remarkable as well that the director used a drone to film scenes from a “heavenly” perspective. At the end of the film, the scene in which Kim crosses a river is magnificent.
Describing Kim’s childhood education from mother when Kim is caught stealing a peach, critic Jung Ji-wook said, “The film Is very openly and delicately containing the love for family and neighbor and seeds of this love as well.” Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung also recommended this movie and said it is a family movie that makes people feel the process of realizing the mission and the maturing and the truthful aspect of the family.
In terms of plot, the film “Beyond that Mountain” is a pure and innocent film and is positive from beginning to end. It is for not only Catholics but also people who love harmony, peace, and the story that makes people feel awake. Playing the role of Kim Young-seo, the father of Kim Sou-hwan, Ahn Nae-sang believes this film can give comfort and encouragement to people today when everyone is having a hard time because of COVID-19.
Since this film covers the childhood of the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, some atheists or people of different religions may feel overwhelmed by a film with Christian overtones. However, Lee Hang-na, in the role of Seo Joong-hwa, mother of Kim Sou-hwan, rejected this. She said, “If I had thought this film was a religious film, I would have reconsidered my decision to be in the movie as well. However, the film ‘Beyond that Mountain’ is a story that contains the greatness of motherhood or the beauty of childlike wonder and the drama of growth that everyone can empathize with."
The director of the film, Choi Jong-tae, also said that he did not want to make a movie of the life of Kim Sou-hwan as a religious or biographical film. “Many people have an interest in his achievements as a religious leader or the marks he made in the pro-democracy movement, but I wanted to look into his mind. Therefore, I showed his childhood in the film rather than the dramatic story and I like it better.” He said this movie is about human nature, its beauty and capacity for good will. He hoped these virtues become beacons of hope to people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, he hopes that people can get some precious things from this movie in this situation. He said, “Because of COVID-19, we learned a lot of what we were forgetting in our daily lives. I hope people think and realize this in encountering the life of Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan through this film.” He hoped the hit of this movie will lead to the revitalization of theaters and ultimately lead people to return to daily life as it was before the COVID-19 situation.
Ahn Nae-sang said that culture emits light in tight situations and this movie especially fulfills this mission. He thought something that tells people to “stand up” or “it will be okay” is necessary when people are restless and tired. In the end, he said, “It is just as well the film “Beyond that Mountain” performs this role at a proper time. I hope people get energy from this movie and overcome the COVID-19 crisis as soon as possible.”