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Burning: Murakami's Short Story That Was Unadaptable For Cinema. Until Now.

Do you have what it takes to watch the "Burning" trailer? A film based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, see how director Chang-dong Lee achieved something that seemed impossible: he adapted it.

By Penny Lane

A pantomime is a faithful representation of an act that allows us to perceive and understand that the act is taking place in spite of a lack of material evidence.

Director Chang-dong Lee plays with this idea in Burning, a film based on a short story by Haruki Murakami. The film is about Jong-su (Ah-in Yoo), a young introvert who reunites with Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jun)—his childhood neighbor—as he delivers merchandise to her store. They later reconnect with each other and begin to spend time together. 

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One night, at a bar, she shows him a peculiar mime act in which she peels and eats a tangerine. The performance fascinates him, and he begins to perceive her as a virtuoso. For her, the secret of pantomimes lies in the simple act of persuading: once you have convinced yourself that something exists (say, a tangerine), it is hard to believe that it doesn’t.

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Some time after their night out, Hae-mi decides to take a trip to Africa, and asks Jong-su to visit her apartment once a week to feed her cat while she's away. Hae-mi eventually returns from her trip with Ben (Steven Yeun), a new and mysterious boyfriend who hogs Hae-mi’s time and space. Ben is a sophisticated and rich young man, who never says what he's up to or what he does for a living. But Ben has a peculiar hobby. Once in a while, he lights greenhouses on fire.

What is it that bonds this girl-next-door to Ben, a mysterious rich kid? The film uses its own particular language to let the viewer know through subtle dialogue, but something weird is going on and we get the sense that Hae-mi is probably in danger.

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The film features a mesmerizing and beautiful photography that portrays cloudy sunrises and the different nuances of the sunset in South Korea’s rural landscape. All is beautifully set against the music by famous American jazz musician Miles Davis, and famous Korean composer Mowg.

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Burning has won 31 awards and received 104 nominations around the world, including the Palme d'Or nomination at Cannes 2018. Here's the official trailer:

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Translated by Santiago González

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