Altered Perspective as a Theme

In addition to misinformation, altered perspective- a false interpretation of correct information- also helps to show the overall theme of misdirection. Altered perspective is particularly apparent in The Quiet Family during the scene in which the uncle and brother chase after the young couple from the hotel. The brother and uncle simply want to ask the couple where they found the wallet that they had turned in, so they run after the couple, asking them to wait. However, because the boyfriend stole money from the wallet, he interprets their call as, ‘We’re in trouble, we should run.’ As the chase begins, the couple realizes that the uncle and brother are holding menacing-looking gardening tools. The couple panics, not wanting to be killed with the tools. In the end of the scene, when the brother and uncle finally catch up with the scared twosome, the boyfriend tearfully admits to stealing money from the wallet. The brother and uncle, in bewilderment at the couple’s terror, take the money that the boyfriend returns.

The boyfriend returning the stolen money to the confused uncle and brother
The boyfriend returning the stolen money to the confused uncle and brother

This chase scene is an example of altered perspective because the couple believes that they are being chased because they stole money from the wallet, an incorrect interpretation of the actions of the uncle and brother. Kim Jee-woon adds an extra layer of humor and mayhem to the scene by having the uncle and the brother waving their gardening tools in the air as they chase after the couple. Even though the actions of the uncle and brother are well intended, the altered perspective of the couple is that they are chasing them with intent to kill due to the boyfriend’s theft. As a dark comedy, this chase scene embodies one of the key themes of the genre: misdirection through altered perspective.

An example of altered perspective in Happiness of the Katakuris occurs during the scene in which the great grandfather offers himself to the police. Watching the police car pull up to the inn, the Katakuris assume that the police are coming to arrest the family for the various deaths that have occurred at their inn. The family breaks out into song, with each member saying that he or she should be the one arrested. Finally, the great grandfather sacrifices himself to the police and walks down the driveway to meet them.  However, when he stands with his arms together in front of himself in surrender, the police simply walk right past him and tell the family that they are looking for a murderer that killed his wife at a guesthouse down the road.

The great grandfather presenting himself to the police
The great grandfather presenting himself to the police

This scene is an example of altered perspective because the family incorrectly interprets the reason for the policemen’s arrival. Instead of waiting patiently for the police to approach them and say why they have come to the inn, the great grandfather decides to take the blame for the deaths of their guests. The audience, unsure of what the police are doing at the lodge, anxiously await the great grandfathers arrest. The main comedic moment in this scene occurs when the police pass by the great grandfather, not even slightly interested by his outstretched hands ready for handcuffs. His potential arrest would have been devastating for the Katakuri family, and would have made this scene significantly more dramatic. So, when the police walk by the great grandfather, this potentially sad moment is completely disregarded, which results in an anticlimactic, yet very humorous scene. The altered perspective that this scene offers demonstrates how in the genre of dark comedy, the most serious of moments in a film can be construed so that they are comedic and silly.

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