Moebius (Blu-ray Review)

Moebius-ThumbMoebius is the latest from Korean art-house auteur Kim Ki-duk.   The film was originally banned on its home turf of South Korea, but after the ratings board took another look or two at it they rescinded their response and gave the film a rating.  The film premiered at the 70th Venice International Film Festival and later was selected to play at the Stanley Film Festival.  The film has been commended for being a daring and bold piece of disturbing art-house cinema that really pushes some limits.  It has been coupled with the horror genre a bit, because of how disturbing things can get, but I’m not sure that’s an appropriate genre to classify it under.  Its just really its own sort of thing.

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When she catches her husband having an affair, a woman attempts to castrate the cheater for his wrongdoing. Unsuccessful, she instead inflicts the unspeakable act on her own son, setting off a series of grotesque yet provocative events ranging from a hurried genital transplant to pain-inflicted orgasms that all merge in a continuous thread of delirious storytelling. With both husband and son damaged and living in grief, the wife returns as the family heads towards destruction even more horrific than before.

Moebius is an absolutely engrossing bit of effective cinema.  While this is likely a movie I will never reach for to watch again, it absolutely works in sticking with you and making its own statement.  As much as you can see is going on from the synopsis it’ll probably shock you even more to know that there is absolutely no words of dialogue spoken in the entire movie.  The only sounds that come out of people are grunts, moans, crying and that sort of thing.  There’s no score to the film either.  However, the movie completely communicates everything and you are fully aware of characters’ motivations and thoughts throughout the film.  Its really impressive how it works and how this movie moves at a really great pace.

The film isn’t for the faint of heart, and definitely not for those who turn their nose up at experimental filmmaking.  There’s a lot of wild sexual deviancy in the movie as characters are turning to violent new ways to get themselves off.  This film also features a gang rape scene as well.  And you won’t believe what the mother does with her son’s castrated penis.  It may sound like I had been sent some edgy underground Korean porn here, but every bit of it is done in a very cinematic manner and nothing feels of some “extreme” hardcore manner.  The subject manner is what’s most disturbing, making one probably think the acts on screen are shown in some more specific detail.

As I said before, while I found this to be a really strong film and quite effective, I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up ever again.   Moebius does prove that you can tell a full on story void of conversation or any sort of subtitling, yet feel you’ve been given a conversations’ worth of knowledge, emotion and plot advancement without even as much as a peep.  Please excuse me while I take off my socks and shoes and find a rock to scrape all up and down the top of my foot 😉

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  This is an image that wants to be pretty vibrant, but finds a couple ugly spots in the transfer.  However, detail is pretty high and the image is sharp.  Some further out shots look a little smooth, but I really couldn’t see any evidence of tampering, so that just might be how this film looks.

Depth: This looks to be a digital based film and with that the 3 dimensional look comes off pretty natural.  There are a lot enclosed, almost claustrophobic areas they shot in for this movie, but still maintains a good separation of person, objects and setting.

Black Levels:  Some of the really dark scenes have almost stain-like look on them as if someone needs to wipe off the lens.  This wasn’t present during any of the well lit scenes.  Blacks are super rich here and do cause some minor crushing at times.

Color Reproduction:  Blood sticks out quite well.  However, the film is kind of void of color and looks a little washed over.  But the “plain” colors on display are well represented.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones are cold and consistent.  Facial details are like looking in a mirror.  Every pore or bit of stubble is accounted for.

Noise/Artifacts:  As I said in the Blacks section, that some of the nighttime scenes contain this weird film look on the picture.

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Audio Format(s): Stereo LPCM

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: This was pretty easy.  There’s no dialogue or score to speak of.  The effects in the film were fully present and finely detailed in the mix.  And that’s all there is to go on as the film contains no dialogue and no score.

Low Frequency Extension: Enhancement on action moments of bumping, crashing and a gunshot later one.

Surround Sound Presentation: Ambiance in the rear speakers.  Left and right channels are interactive throughout.

Dialogue Reproduction:  There is no dialogue in the film.

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Cast And Director Interview (HD, 6:07) – Unlike the film, there’s dialogue here.  This basically starts with discussing the director and then going character by character talking about the actor and the role they’re playing.

Director Kim Ki-duk Interview (HD, 3:00) – A little extra from the interview that was used in the above featurette.

Interview With Actress Lee Eun-woo (HD, 22:24) – A lenghty in depth interview with the actress who played the mother in the film.

Post Screening Q&A From NYAFF (HD, 26:59) – The full Q&A with actress Lee Eun-woo and her translator.

Trailers – Moebius, APP, Forgetting The Girl, Hide And Seek

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Moebius isn’t for everyone, but its going to wow a good number of people on the art-house/experimental side of things.  I particularly found this one to be pretty effective, while also having no desire to revisit possibly ever again (sort of like what Brian said about Martyrs last week, but this isn’t for similar reasons, just a similar kind of response to the film).  This Blu-ray release provides a good presentation of the film as well as some insightful and worthy extras.



Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Moebius (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Um…I kind of think I want to see this now!