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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

THE RED CHAPEL (DET RODE KAPEL)

By D.E.Levine

CHOSEN AS ONE OF "THE CONTENDERS" BY MOMA

Director: Mads Brugger
Writer:
Cast: Mads Brugger, Simon Juls Jurgenson, Jacob Nossell, Mrs. Pak et al.
Producer: Peter Engel
Executive Producer: Peter Aalbaek Jensen
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Country of Origin: Denmark and North Korea
Language: English, Danish, Korean (with English subtitles)
Genre: Documentary, Comedy, Satire

A rather unusual film that is too long even at 88 minutes. The premise is so far-fetched that it's hard to believe anyone had the audacity to even attempt to make this film, much less to accomplish it.

A real Danish journalist, Mads Brugger, decides to make a film in North Korea by taking a Danish comedy troop over in a cultural exchange.

The real reason that Brugger wants to do this is that as an investigative reporter he wants to "infiltrate" North Korea and expose the dictatorship and corruption that abound and have never been seen before.

The North Korean government actually swallows the bait Brugger tosses out and invites Brugger and his comedy troop to tour North Korea.

Brugger's entire comedy troop consists of two Danish-Korea comedians, both of whom were born in North Korea and then adopted by Danish family. Raised in Denmark, neither speaks Korean but are fluent in Danish and English.

One of the comedians, Jacob, suffers from cerebral palsy and describes himself as spastic. His straight man is Simon, and the two of them are actually pretty funny doing slapstick comedy and also reacting to situations they are exposed to in North Korea.

Brugger manages to interject sarcasm into the skits and the film commentary. While the North Korean government may have agreed to allow the comedians to visit because they thought they'd get positive publicity from the visit, the reality is that Brugger exposes the insensitivity and dictatorship of the government.

In the end, the Danes go further than one would think is possible, with their expose and their sarcasm. But, they are also deeply affected by their trip and their exposure to the North Korean culture.

While after the first 40 minutes the film becomes somewhat redundant and drags, overall, this documentary is revealing unusual and well worth viewing.