Legend of the Mountain
King Hu, Taiwan/Hong Kong, 1979, 184 min., Mandarin w/ English Subtitles
A travelling scholar, intent on translating a Buddhist sutra, loses his way
in the mountains. Time and space collapse around him as he continues his
journey, encountering ghostly visitations amid a haunting fantasia of color, light
King Hu rose to prominence in the 1960s and 70s as a superb director of wuxia, a subgenre of samurai film dealing with swords, sorcery and chivalrous heroes. Legend of the Mountain comes from the director’s later period, when his artistry, specifically his landscape compositions, was at the height of its powers. The film’s astonishing nature shots, shot on location in the Korean countryside, are reminiscent of Terrence Malick, while the reflective blend of myth and history is all Hu’s own.