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Treeless Mountain (2008)

Kim Mi-hyang , Kim Hee Yeon , So Yong Kim  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kim Mi-hyang, Kim Hee Yeon, Kim Song Hee, Lee Soo Ah, Boon Tak Park
  • Directors: So Yong Kim
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories
  • DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002EZLQ0W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,353 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Treeless Mountain" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A powerfully poetic and lyrical tale on the calm resilience of children and sibling ties. When their mother leaves in order to find their estranged father, seven-year-old Jin and her younger sister, Bin, are left to live with their Big Aunt for the summer. With only a small piggy bank and their mother's promise to return when it is full, the two young girls are forced to acclimate to changes in their family life. Counting the days, and the coins, the two bright-eyed young girls eagerly anticipate their mother's homecoming. But when the bank fills up, and with their mother still not back, Big Aunt decides that she can no longer tend to the children. Taken to live on their grandparents' farm, it is here that Jin comes to learn the importance of family bonds and self-reliance in this beautiful, meditative, and thought-provoking second feature from So Yong Kim, the acclaimed director of In Between Days.


Simply one of the best films about childhood ever made. --Melissa Anderson, Village Voice

A quiet, poignant drama of abandonment and uncanny ability to enlarge your perception of the world. --A.O. Scott, New York Times

Treeless Mountain takes a radically different approach to the deprivations of childhood than Slumdog Millionaire, yet these films from the other side of the world will connect with audiences wherever they are shown. --Tom Charity, CNN

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A young girl, barely 7 years old, is left to fend for her little sister when their mother leaves them both in the hands of a distracted and insensitive aunt. Promised by their mother that if they were good their aunt would give them coins and that she would come back when their piggy bank was full, the children improvise ways to earn small change and fill up the bank, hoping to hasten their mother's return.

So Yong Kim's follow up to the wonderful and understated In Between Days is a revelation of a film. Shot in a style that captures simple nuances of childhood without artifice, the film is also a formal masterpiece. Every shot is framed with care and precision, captures subtleties of gesture and emotion that feel utterly authentic, or captures settings and light and other natural elements to give a haiku-like accent to the mood of surrounding scenes. To say that this film is shot documentary-style is technically true, but may give the false impression of a amateur home-movie style video or shaky cameras and this film is nothing like that. In its formal precision that captures the essence of the reality it depicts rather than the raw subject matter the film is closer to work by the Dardenne Brothers or to that of Robert Bresson, than to the more ad hoc and improvised "documentary-style" cinematography of the Office television series or of something like Cloverfield or even District 9.

A delicate and lovely film about the fragility and resilience of childhood. Highly recommended.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treeless Mountain October 3, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I'm surprised I don't find more discussions about this movie. Why, because it is one of the best family movies I've seen and it portrays one of the saddest issues - that is the effect of adoption, divorce, foster care - all the estrangements that can occur between children and guardians.
What makes this movie different are the brilliant actors and the classy filming and editing. Never mind the sub-titles the movie just visually tells a story, some of the best scenes come from the subtle smiles and natural movements that only a child could render.
Fortunately this DVD comes with extras, whether through deleted scenes or interviews with the two leads that add comedy and poignancy to the film.
Amazingly two actors age five and seven are able to deliver a striking performance.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting mostly upbeat view of a Nobody Knows situation September 16, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Treeless Mountain was utterly charming, a far more upbeat take on a situation somewhat similar to Hirokazu Koreeda's tragic "Nobody Knows" ("Dare mo shiranai", 2004). A 30ish big-city single mom in dire financial straits drops off her seven and five-year-old daughters with the 50ish 'Big Aunt', her sister-in-law, a functioning alcoholic in a small town, who a few weeks later in turn dumps them on their 70ish maternal grandparents, who live on a rather primitive farm.

Mom has given the girls a piggy bank, and said she'd return by the time they've filled it, a white lie, of course, but the kids start collecting impaling and charbroiling grasshoppers (yum -- healthful animal protein) to sell to big aunt's neighbors at ten cents a pop. Then they discover that ten pennies take up more bank space than a dime, and engage in some currency conversion. Even though the piggy's now full, mom doesn't show up. Later, at the farm, the girls offer grandma the bank to buy herself new winter shoes.

It's not all sunshine. The girls have their quirks. Jin, the older daughter, has a bed-wetting problem, and frames little sister Bin, who gets revenge later. There are lots of little touches like that in all the characters, but it's all understated, and much is implied without being obvious. The overall impression is of a society that values its kids highly, and the extended family structure makes what might otherwise have been a tragic situation bearable and even light-hearted at times. On the commentary track, the director reveals she's dedicated the film to her own grandmother, the movie having been somewhat autobiographical.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully done, haunting and bittersweet July 24, 2010
By Sennie
I saw this movie two days ago and I'm still thinking about it. Amazing performances by two child non-actors. Their mother (single, tired and struggling) leaves them with their neglectful aunt while going in search of their father... or was that just an excuse to abandon the children she is unable to raise on her own?

The mother leaves the girls with a piggy bank, promising to return when the girls have filled it completely. The girls show maturity beyond their years, finding creative ways to fill their piggy bank while also displaying the innocence and hopefulness of a child while waiting for their mother to return. Their faces and expressions are haunting and heart tugging. As hard as it was to watch them struggle with their aunt, it was satisfying to see them receive more attention and love from their elderly grandmother.

I would love a sequel with a happy ending. Wishful thinking?

In response to a reviewer who gave this movie 1 start and called it boring, well, anyone who needs special effects, car chases and other "action" may find this movie "boring". However, I think anyone with a heart, compassion and sensitivity will love this movie.

As a side note: the young girl who played the younger sister in this movie was discovered in a foster home. Knowing this while I was watching this movie really tugged at my heartstrings. I saw a wisdom, playfulness and strength in her that was humbling. Does anyone know what happened to her after this movie was filmed?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this film...
Very bittersweet and endearing story...I watched it with my mother, who was from Korea. Adorable little girls, well made film.
Published 12 months ago by R. MALLON
5.0 out of 5 stars A VERY TOUCHING STORY.
I sent this video straightaway to my oldest daughter, as I knew she would like it as well as I did. I must ask for it back, as I want to watch it again , asn send it to another... Read more
Published 13 months ago by paul ashbrook
5.0 out of 5 stars Treeless Mountain (DVD)
I'm not usually a crier, but this one really got to me. I loved the little girls, especially the older one. I watched it on cable several times and loved it more every time. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dolores
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth Watching Twice
The movie was alright. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did. It's also always difficult to see children getting treated badly. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Chelsea
3.0 out of 5 stars Exquisitely shot, though ultimately unfulfilling.
<strong>Treeless Mountain</strong> (So-yong Kim, 2008)

Not long ago I reviewed a failed-potential coming-of-age film called <em>Trees Grow Tall and Then They... Read more
Published on September 10, 2012 by Robert Beveridge
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
the directing is exceptional - at no point do the girls look like they are acting...sensitive rendering I was completely engrossed in this unforgettable film
Published on May 26, 2012 by kneidles
5.0 out of 5 stars Boring story, pseudo ending for mainstream movie junkies; otherwise,...
When children are shuffled from family member to family member, it is too often told with good guys and bad guys. Read more
Published on May 17, 2012 by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking. Heartwarming.
For most of this film, the camera stays focused on the faces of two little girls.
Somehow, through their actions and reactions, I knew every setting in this exceptional... Read more
Published on April 2, 2012 by uniquefreak
1.0 out of 5 stars One star because nothing's lower
This is the most boring movie I've ever watched. (SPOILER INCLUDED IN REVIEW). The director is big on silence, close-up shots, and long shots of nothing but black. Read more
Published on March 25, 2012 by Pattipeg S. Harjo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Resilience of Children
"Treeless Mountain" is a beautiful and emotionally affecting film. In the film, two young girls are left in the care of an uncaring aunt so that the mother can supposedly go look... Read more
Published on March 4, 2012 by Don R. Holloway
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Topic From this Discussion
How do they do it?
Quite a bit of dialogue in films is done in voice-over later and synchronized to match the video (both Robert Rodriguez and Joe Queenan talk about this process in their respective books about making movies, and in the documentary 'American Movie' there's a hilarious scene with an old man where... Read More
Oct 29, 2009 by el dangeroso |  See all 3 posts
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