No stranger to controversy, director Kim Ki-duk’s latest film Moebius (뫼비우스) appears to be pushing more boundaries than ever before. Billed as his most controversial film to date, sexual thriller Moebius explores the themes of incest, genital dismemberment, and dark sado-masochistic desires within a family unit, employing the director’s trademark silent characterisation in emphasising the severity of their actions.
The story depicts a mother (Lee Eun-woo (이은우) who, sick of her husband’s (Jo Jae-hyeon (조재현) constant infidelities, plots her own unique brand of revenge. However the conflict dramatically backfires upon their son (Seo Yeong-joo (서영주), with the resulting shame forcing the mother into exile. While the father and son attempt to build their relationship once again, their lives are once again thrown into turmoil when the mother returns, sparking a dramatic chain of events towards an even darker path.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Moebius was initially rejected by The Korean Media Rating Board upon submission, bestowing a ‘restricted’ rating upon the film. Yet as there are no cinemas in Korea that are licensed to screen ‘restricted’ rated films, the decision effectively meant that director Kim’s latest could not be released domestically. In a statement the Board explained, “The story and contents of the movie are highly violent, terrifying and harmful to underage audiences. The unethical and unsocial expressions of sexual activity between immediate family members make it only suitable for screening in limited theaters”. However, after director Kim edited several of the more controversial scenes from the film, Moebius was finally approved for domestic release, which should occur sometime in early September.
Interestingly such issues have not effected director Kim’s reputation abroad, as the film has been selected by both Venice and Toronto for their respective film festivals. Kim’s Pieta was the big winner at last year’s Venice Film Festival, scooping the highly coveted ‘Golden Lion’ award for best film, while this year’s Moebius will be screened as part of the ‘Out of Competition’ category. Toronto Film Festival are due to screen the film under their ‘Masters’ program, describing the film as bearing, “the clear mark of Kim’s singular genius. It’s a modern Greek tragedy bordering on psychological thriller, a pitchblack comedy, a crazy-weird depiction of pain-induced pleasure.”
Love him or loathe him, Kim Ki-duk’s films are consistently fascinating. Audiences will be able to form their own opinions regarding Moebius in early September. Please see below for the trailer.