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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Planet of Snail
Directed by Seung-Jun Yi
Cinema Guild 07/12 DVD/VHS Documentary
One of the great exemplars of being present and totally alert to the wonders of the world was Helen Keller. Although blind, deaf, and mute she was able to write about life's treasure-trove of smells, tastes, and touches. She was sensitive to the small but precious pleasures that surrounded her.
South Korean director Seung-Jun Yi has created a mesmerizing documentary about the adventures and challenges of a young writer who is deaf and blind. Young-Chan lives in Seoul in a modern apartment with his loving and patient wife Soon-Ho who suffers from a spinal deformity which has resulted in her barely reaching his waist in height.
They have worked out a means of communication through her fingers tapping words on his hands. It is a very sensuous way to keep in touch with each other. Young-Chan and Soon-Ho work together on various activities in their apartment. For instance, when a ceiling light bulb goes out, he has to fix it while calmly taking orders from her.
During his daily exercise regimen, Soon-Ho keeps him on track when he loses his sense of direction and starts moving backwards. They are so intertwined as a couple that one of their group of disabled friends confesses that he envies their closeness.
The major challenge faced by both of these disabled individuals is loneliness. Young-Chan aspires to be a writer and at one point describes himself as an isolated astronaut in space. Watching him flying a kite or being buried in sand except for his head and hands are two rich metaphors for escaping his condition and feeling stuck in a rut.
Like Helen Keller who had to find her own way through this sense-luscious world, Young-Chan and Soon-Ho discover palpable enchantment in the beauties and bounties of the natural world: rain drops, bark, and pine-cones. They also find sense of peace and calm in religion.
Planet of Snail is a deeply moving Korean documentary about love in partnership, dealing with disabilities, and living in the present moment.
Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes and a theatrical trailer.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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