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[French R2 DVD cover art.]
AKA: 오세암 (Oseam) (Korean)
Genre: Drama
Length: Movie, 77 minutes
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America
Content Rating: 6+ (mild violence)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Grave of the Fireflies, Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, White Heart Baekgu
Notes: Based on the novel by Jeong Chae-bong, and directed by Seong Baek-yeop (White Heart Baekgu).

This is a Korean animated feature, and while not strictly "anime" by the Western definition, we are reviewing this title as a service to our readers.



Based on a fairy tale by by Korean writer Jeong Chae-bong, this is a tale about orphan boy Gilson and his blind sister Gami, who are taken care of by Buddhist monks at a temple. The drama unfolds as Gilson follows a monk up to a mountainside temple to learn more about the soul's eye, so he can teach it to his sister so that she can see the world again with her own eyes.

(information taken from YesAsia)


From the director Sung Baek-yeop, whose earlier work I beheld in White Heart Baekgu, comes another animated piece. And a theatrical feature at that. Oseam is a fairly new movie from a fairly new phenomenon; animation from Korea. While Korean animation in general doesn't have the same history or past as Japanese animation, Oseam easily shows us the sheer potential this country have in producing excellent features.

Compared to White Heart Baekgu -- an excellent piece of animation in itself -- it's easy to see that the production values are top notch. Starting out at a Korean countryside, the movie wows you with lush art and coloring, coupled with computer graphics being put to good use to visualize various weather or seasonal conditions as we're taken directly into the life of Gilson and Gami, two orphans trying to get by out in the wild. Having lost their home, they've also been struck with another cruel twist of fate when Gami loses her eyesight the very same day they lose their mother.

The visuals don't stop there, though, as we're taken on a tour de force throughout various locations -- from the seaside areas to the temple ground where the monks adopting the two children stays and later to a mountainside temple where the movie got its name, which, incidentally, is apparently based on an old Korean legend about a place where wishes come true.

It sounds... well... corny, sure, but thankfully the movie doesn't really cross any borders in that regard. If I would have one complaint, then that would be that the movie tend to throw around sad moments a little bit too frequently, so you better get used to the sound of Gami crying. To offset this, we have Gilson, who is lively and rambunctious enough to weigh up for this, and his shenanigans bring much of the life and energy this movie has, as drama heavy as it is.

As an observation, this movie seems to feature rather heavily on the topic of Buddhism. How accurate, I can't really say, but the prevalence it has in this movie is not to be taken lightly. It IS a mere story -- the movie never really starts preaching or lecturing the audience at any point any more than... say, the Dreamworks' titles "Prince of Egypt" or "Joseph, prince of dreams". It wasn't a big deal to me, though your mileage may vary.

The draw of this movie remains the simple story of a boy's earnest wish and the bittersweet end that takes him there. While Oseam doesn't quite carry the spirit of tragedy you would see in Grave of the Fireflies, I'd be willing to bet the ending carries nearly the same emotional impact. It quite simply is a movie not to be missed, and that's an opinion I stand by even now; nearly two years since my first time viewing it.

A massive achievement from the Korean animation industry.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: This movie is for everyone. The only violence there is (if you can even call it that), is children fighting. Other than that, this movie has NOTHING objectionable whatsoever. Parents should be prepared to answer questions, though, for those who don't understand or console those who do. The ending is perhaps one of the most emotionally draining I've ever seen in a movie of any type.

Version(s) Viewed: R3 DVD
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Oseam © 2003 Mago21
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