Love’s Tenacity

Jul 31 2012 @ 2:21pm

The Korean documentary "Planet of Snail" follows the married couple Young-chan and Soon-ho. Soon-ho has a spinal deformity while Young-chan can't see or hear. Andrew O'Hehir describes how replacing a blown lightbulb in their bedroom can tell us all something:

It takes quite a while, since every time Young-chan gets something wrong — a cord is in the way, or the bulb is incorrectly mounted — Soon-ho must tug on his sleeve so he’ll lower himself enough for her to offer advice by tapping on the backs of his fingers, using a system known as finger Braille or tactile sign language. They never, however, resort to the cursing or impatience or constant distraction that might attend you or me trying to do the same task much more quickly. If you’re guiltily thinking that there might be some inherent comedy in the spectacle of a blind man changing a light bulb, you needn’t worry. Soon-ho, who seems to have a wry, detached perspective on the difficulties of her life with Young-chan, quietly gets the giggles several times.

It might sound faintly condescending to say that the whole scene is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen in a motion picture, as if I were marveling at the fact that people with severe disabilities can cope with everyday chores. Honestly, what I felt was gratitude: to Yi, the filmmaker, for allowing me to share this time with the couple, and to Soon-ho and Young-chan, for the reminder that the really important thing about being alive is how you relate to other people and the world around you, rather than how many tasks you complete or how quickly.