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4.5 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mija (Yoon Jeong-hee) is a beautiful woman in her sixties who moves gracefully through life, contemplating a trivial daily routine that is ill-suited to her refined persona. With elegance and a dash of eccentricity, Mija takes care of her ungrateful grandson Wook (Lee David) and makes a living by cleaning house for an elderly man who, though paralyzed by a stroke, still responds to her charm with bouts of drug-induced arousal. On a whim, Mija enrolls in a poetry class at the local cultural centre and begins a personal quest to find the perfect words to describe her feelings. However, she s plagued by the onset of Alzheimer's disease, and struggles with new vocabulary and the challenges of the creative process. When her world is turned upside down by the discovery of a monstrous crime, it is Mija's unique and touching poetry that allows her to defy the weight of shame and distance herself from a painful proximity to violence. WINNER: BEST SCREENPLAY AWARD - 2010 Cannes Film Festival.


A sweet-natured grandmother fulfills her artistic destiny in Lee Chang-dong's heartbreaking Poetry, winner of the best screenplay award at Cannes. Mija (the luminous Yun Jung-hee), looks after an elderly stroke victim to provide for her demanding grandson, Wook (Lee David), whose divorced mother lives in Pusan. When Wook and five middle-school friends contribute to the suicide of a rural classmate, their fathers pressure Mija to pay into a fund to silence the press and the victim's family. Mija’s expression is easy to read: the scheme makes her uncomfortable. In her younger days, she tells one, people said she had "a poet's vein," because she "likes flowers and says odd things," so she enrolls in a poetry class, where the instructor encourages his students to make note of the details that surround them. This is particularly difficult for Mija as she can't always remember the words for commonplace objects, which her physician ascribes to Alzheimer's disease. While Mija struggles to come up with her portion of the pay-off money, she works on a poem, attends readings, and fends off the advances of her lonely client. All the while, she retraces the steps of the 16-year-old farmer’s daughter who plunged to her death from a remote bridge. It's as if Mija were turning into a sort of metaphysical detective. She can't know exactly what the girl was feeling, but in using her imagination, while she still has access to it, Mija makes a surprising decision: it is the decision of a poet. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yoon Jeong-hee, Lee David
  • Directors: Lee Chang Dong
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • DVD Release Date: August 23, 2011
  • Run Time: 139 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0053TWVUU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,842 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Poetry" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I started watching this movie expecting it to be a fairly uninteresting (if aesthetically pleasing) story about a woman preparing to die. Lots of calm scenery and quiet struggles, a dash of social consciousness. Done.

Instead, I found myself sobbing through a good third of the movie. When I wasn't crying because of the heart-wrenching tragedy of the thing, I was overwhelmed by its honest beauty and realistic portrayal of human goodness. So much of the best and worst of human nature is captured in this movie, and balanced so perfectly from one scene to the next -- without mood music or melodrama or unpleasant plot contrivances -- that I'm tempted to offer up Poetry as the best film portrait of humanity I have ever seen. This is one of those rare works of realist cinema that gives viewers not just a startling insight into the difficulties of human nature (e.g. Cries and Whispers), or a heart-wrenching invitation to social consciousness (Umberto D), but also a vision of human joy and natural beauty that, because of its modest particularity and ordinariness, is sufficient to counterbalance the other darker truths and give us a reprieve from our grief. If ever a film attested to the grace present in creation which allows goodness to survive through evil, this was it. Watch it. You won't be disappointed.
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Format: DVD
Poetry is probably one of the most thoughtful, thought-provoking, and touching films I have ever seen. The story centers around a 60-something grandmother who is showing early signs of Alzheimer's and her desire to learn to write poetry. Intertwined with this is a suicide of a middle-school girl, a horrific discovery that involves the grandmother's ungrateful (but realistically portrayed) grandson with whom she lives, and subsequent attempts by other men involved to cover up the truth. As she tries to protect her undeserving grandson, she also happens to be the only person who feels the burden of the crime committed. The ending is just so wistful and perfectly executed, with the recital of the one poem that she writes.

I have watched and read a few Korean films and books whose central character is an older female (notably, "Mother," a film directed by Joon-ho Bong, and the book "Please Look After Mom" by Kyung-sook Shin). There seems to be a reverence and a respect for older women in the Korean culture that is reflected in its art. By contrast, there is a shortage of Hollywood films that feature an older woman as the central lead. (Could this be because of a lack of appreciation for older women in the Western culture? Yes, I believe so.) If there were adventurous Hollywood producers, they can attempt to remake this into an English language film. Of course, the quietness of this film and the emotions behind it may not translate well into a Hollywood feature.

But this is truly one of the best films ever made.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
POETRY tells a simple tale of an elderly woman who is diagnosed with early Alzheimer and encouraged to keep an active mind. She enrolls in a poetry class to learn that poetry is our ability to see what is truly before our eyes and our emotional impressions expressed in words. She works part-time assisting a man recovering from a stroke and looks after her grandson who treats her like a hired hand. At the start of the film, a female teenager is seen floating face down. An apparent suicide, she had been the victim of repeated gang rapes. The grandmother becomes aware of the crime, investigates the scene, attends the service but flees. Will she report this or share with other fathers of the boys involved with monetary payoffs to the poor mother? I will not reveal more of this absolutely mesmerizing film. It is long but totally engrossing. We want justice for this horrific abuse. We, as viewers, have witnessed what immoral behavior people will resort to with hope of burying the truth. Not since Li Shaohong's film, A STOLEN LIFE, has an ending been so painfully moving. This film will become a classic. People will always die but not poetry. It is the inescapable impression of our very existence.
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Format: DVD
Poetry is a 2010 South Korean film directed by Lee Chang-dong. It stars Yoon Jeong-hee as Mija, a woman in her 60's raising a derelict grandson while dealing with the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.

I picked the movie based on its case synopsis but knew to expect more because of where it was filmed. My introduction to South Korean cinema was Taegukgi and I was blown away. Since then, I've kept the country on my radar and have not once been disappointed in their efforts. Now I'm at the point where I prefer South Korean movies and when I found Poetry, it was an easy decision. Once again, I was rewarded for my favoritism.

Poetry is a beautiful and disturbing film. At the risk of exposing the plot, I'll refrain from specifics, but it makes this review difficult to write. There aren't any major twists to give away but there are turns to take and I don't want to ruin them. There is a suicide that involves Mija directly and the effect on her is profound. What I most love about Korean films is the realism. Even while their plots rotate around a ravaging sea monster, they still bring a brilliant believability out of their characters. Poetry delivers this legitimacy also and it was a treat to be involved. It felt real.

I think the only problem I had with the film was its length. This particular poem weighs in at just under 140 minutes dropping it in the, "epic" world where haikus have to attack in packs. But this isn't a huge problem as it seemed to go by fairly quickly. It's my opinion that the film could have taken a bit more editing to keep it around two hours, but that's just me and I'm no filmmaker. So what do I know? It's something to keep in mind, though, especially if you're a quick-fix type moviegoer.
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