Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oldboy, Vol. 1-8 (Garon Tsuchiya)

Now an award-winning major motion picture in Japan, and an in-the-works major motion picture in Steven Spielberg's future, Oldboy tells the tale of an average top-of-his-class gentleman who enters into a life of post-education work and boredom, who gets kidnapped and imprisoned in a Being John Malkovich-style floor-between-floors prison for ten years. Equipped with nothing more than a TV and a bed, the man comes to forget his name and most other details about his past as his unexplained and inexplicable situation drags on.

Then one day he's unceremoniously released, left to deal with what's happened to him and to pick up the pieces of his old life. But who would spend the unthinkable amount of money needed to keep someone in the secret prison for so long? And why?The absolute dearth of dialogue, and the big-panel shots like the one pictured above make Oldboy read almost like a flipbook. Or a film. But read it too quick and you'll deprive yourself of all the fine, intense drawings.

In hindsight, the story is almost ludicrous. It derives from pulp fiction-style mayhem, but reins itself in from violent indulgences. Most of the violence, like all good violence, is in the dialogue. But since the story is so simple, one can't go into too much detail without giving most of the plot away.

It's no-holds-barred, rollicking fun, with a slice of existentialism to serve.

One thing I wonder is if the title is a reference to Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, whose name translates as, "Aged Child". In an age where a book came out called "Rejuvenile" about why it's bad that people are holding on more and more to the events of their childhoods, I think it's high time we started thinking about how significant these events in our past are, before, like Old Boy, we get locked up in the cages of our hearts when adulthood sets in.

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