Antarctic Journal – Namgeuk-ilgi – 2005
from Wikipedia: During their journey the expedition led by Captain Choi Do-hyung discovers a journal that was left behind by a British expedition 80 years earlier. The journal was remarkably preserved in a box in the snow and Kim Min-jae, another member of the expedition, gets the job of examining it. It turns out that the two expeditions shared the same goal and soon other strange similarities between them start to show up.
I have recently been more and more interested in the theme of “whiteness” in horror/thriller/drama movies. Something that gives an extreme and almost out of place contrast with subjects otherwise dark, and gruesome, and definitely not innocent – as opposed to what we usually identify the color white with.
Antarctic Journal is the combination of all this things, and is undeniably as white as any movie could possibly be. Filmed in 2005 by director Yim Pil-sung, Antarctic Journal scores korean actors as big as Song Kang-ho (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, The Host) and Yoo Ji-tae (Oldboy, Into the Mirror) as members of an expedition team trying to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility, nonetheless. One of the most difficult places to reach on the planet, trodden upon only once by a Soviet team in 1958.
Everything goes relatively fine until the group finds an old journal left by a British expedition team around eighty years in the past. Only a few pages are readable, but there are some spooky drawings that not only point to the fate of the British crew, but eerily parallel the mishaps affecting the Korean team in the present day. This is when things start going wrong, and a different kind of journey is set to start, one that goes deeper and deeper into the explorers’ minds.
We are following both a physical and psychological journey of a group of men that soon begin to question the reasons for the journey itself, with no immediate chance of coming out of an incredibly desolate, icy surrounding that is so desperately white, and all of a sudden just lonely and endless.
Antarctic Journal is really slow paced, so you’d have to be in the proper mindset to watch it, even tho i found it to be one of the movie’s strong points. Everything looks and in fact is simply frozen and stuck in time. Altho psychological thriller would be a better classification for it, some really creepy elements such as ghosts and the weird drawings in the Journal itself, made it fall into the horror category.
The big budget and popular faces put into this movie generated high expectations, but later failed to deliver both critics and box office-wise. It is definitely not the best korean movie i’ve ever seen nor makes it to my top-anything, but there’s something about that whiteness, so intense and endless and hallucinating, that just captured me and intrigued me enough to put it up here. If you ever come across to seeing it, some of you out there will know what i mean.