Oliver Stone Visits Jeju Island
by K. J. Noh
In 1986, a young American director burst out on the screens with a raw, charged, kinetic film. Depicting a country on the verge of popular revolution, it documents the rightwing terror and massacres that are instigated, aided and abetted by the US government. Beginning as the chronicle of a gonzo journalist on his last moral legs, the film starts out disjointed, chaotic, hyper-kinetic; the unmoored, fragmented consciousness of a hedonic drifter. As the events unfurl towards greater and greater violence, the clarity and steadiness of the camera increase, its moral vision clearer and fiercer, carrying the viewer through a journey of political awakening even as the story hurtles inexorably towards heartbreak, tragedy, and loss.
The name of the director was Oliver Stone. The film was Salvador. Opened to dismissal, derision and poor distribution, it nonetheless garnered two Oscar nominations and is now lauded as one of the most important films of the period, acknowledged to have influenced the political debate, if not the policy, around Central America at the time. (more…)