Seth Rogen’s ‘The Interview’ Denounced by North Korea

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The Interview Franco Seth Rogens The Interview Denounced by North Korea

Cinema is inherently political. Even when filmmakers don’t go out of their way to put ideology under a microscope, their films still make implicit political statements. In 2008, for example, The Dark Knight combined all the thrills of a superhero flick with a gritty crime yarn while providing an allegory for the war on terror; meanwhile, 1999′s The Iron Giant delighted audiences with its central emotional through lines of friendship and self-determination, but also contains an anti-gun sentiment and a satirical critique of reactionary governance.

Neither film engages with contemporary politics openly and head-on; the political messages have to be read out of them. Other films, though, prefer to wear their politics on their sleeves, and Seth Rogen’s upcoming The Interview is one of them. The film has Rogen play producer to James Franco’s talk show host, as both men are given the chance to interview North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. Their opportunity takes a turn for the covert, though, when the United States government recruits the duo to assassinate the man instead.

Rogen, who wrote and helmed The Interview alongside his usual directorial partner in comedic crime, Evan Goldberg, isn’t dressing anything up here. Another movie might have skirted around directly pointing a finger at both North Korea and Kim, replacing them with screen surrogates to avoid ruffling political or social feathers. But delicacy isn’t really Rogen’s and Goldberg’s trademark, and according to The Telegraph, it seems that feathers in Pyongyang have been ruffled indeed by The Interview‘s brand of blatant political farce.

The criticism hails primarily from Kim Myong-chol, the executive director of The Center for North Korea-US Peace, who suggests that the film’s assassination plot thread hints at the US’s desperation while also expressing his admiration for contemporary British cinema over Hollywood pictures. No one can fault Kim for his personal cinematic preferences; each to their own, after all, particularly in a case as specific and intentional as that of The Interview. Though there is a special irony to the praise he accords James Bond, a character whose bread and butter is assassination.

Team America Kim Jong Il Seth Rogens The Interview Denounced by North Korea

Nobody should be surprised that North Korea would take offense to a movie that depicts the attempted murder of its leader, especially because US filmmakers have gone down this road with the country before. 2004′s Team America: World Police used a caricatured version of Kim Jong-Un’s late father, Kim Jong-Il, as its villain, while Die Another Day sees the aforementioned English spy infiltrate a North Korean military installation. More recently, the remake of Red Dawn swapped out Russia for North Korea; odds favor an outcome where Kim and his cabinet don’t have warm feelings toward that film, either.

What does this mean for Rogen, Goldberg, and Franco? Probably nothing. If anything, news articles (much like this one) chronicling the North Korean response to The Interview will only help push more tickets during the film’s theatrical run. It’s hard to imagine any real action being taken against them here, harder still to ponder what repercussions might result from their subversion; the film is a comedy, absurdist to a fault if we take the trailer at face value. These are the same people who made This is the End, a movie that skewers the Rapture and celebrity culture all in the same movement. No one, not even Kim, should actually take these guys as being representative of the US government or its people.

But even if that’s so, it’s worth questioning the wisdom of making a movie about this exact scenario – even with tongue fully in cheek – in light of the United States’ current relations with North Korea. Is The Interview an ill-advised production, or will North Korea lower its hackles and forget that the movie even exists? Sometimes it’s easy to forget the power of cinema and the political overtures the medium is capable of making; other times, movies like The Interview come along and we recognize that power all too well.

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The Interview opens in theaters on October 10th, 2014.

Source: The Telegraph

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  1. I’d say it seems a dumb move to do this so openly but then again, look who’s behind it/starring in it.

    Then again, North Korea hasn’t been too enamoured with America for decades and Kim Jong-Il’s preference movie wise has always been towards the musicals and light-hearted romps with a little political intrigue thrown in (it’d be like Queen Elizabeth II enjoying Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs but then also admitting to watching TV shows like 24 or Homeland).

    The Kims have always seen Hollywood productions as big, flashy and empty-headed with all style and no substance (I remember reading Kim Jong-Il saying such things in an interview several years before his death) but I don’t know whether he truly believed that (as many others do) or whether it was just because of the relations between his nation and the US (which is plausible).

    On a similar note, I just saw on BBC Asian Business Report (on the 24 hour BBC News channel) that a Chinese company is unhappy with something in the new Transformers film and has requested that all mentions and logos depicting the company in the movie be edited while also calling for a Chinese boycott of the film until the matter is resolved (which is a big negative for relations since a large portion of the ending to the film is set in Hong Kong from what I heard and Hollywood is only just being able to set up relations with the Chinese in order to jointly produce films and have scenes shot on Chinese soil).

    • Its a dumb move todo this so openly okay……, here in the United States we have freedom of speech so seth rogen can make a movie about what ever the f he wants. And secondly here we don’t fear kim jong-un we mock him and make fun of him we do not fear him or his petty repercussions. So as far as im concerned if they want to make a crapy comedy about north korea, I say go for it im just glad they didnt have a timid person like you standing in their way. To keep them from making their movie for the fear of upsetting the o so powerful fearless leader kim jong-un

    • I always appreciate your comments, Dazz. They’re always robust and thoughtful. So thanks for that.

      As far as Kim goes, he’ll probably end up seeing the movie anyways – so says the Telegraph article – but his fascination with and aversion to American cultural of all kinds is itself fascinating and weird. Frankly, if Team America didn’t spark military conflict between North Korea and the US, then I doubt The Interview will.

  2. Yeah. Raise your hand if you didn’t see that coming.

    @Dazz, now I’m kinda hoping T4 fails in that market. It’s been a long time coming and people have put up with that ugly cgi slop for years. On one hand, if it scores highly, I’d check it out in IMAX. If it doesn’t then I hope the mass movie going audience sends a message to Bay that we aren’t all drawn in by dumbed down story and explosions.

  3. Blah!

    Who would fear the sickly nation of North Korea? With their brittle soldiers and equipment!

    I for one intend to turn their nation into my next SEWER WORLD! My galactic dump engines will be placed directly over Pyongyang!

    So Sayeth Lord Slug!

  4. If I were contemporary british films, id be insulted.

  5. Russia was the enemy in the original Red Dawn.

    • Cuba was the original enemy in the original Red Dawn. The Soviets defeat the U.S. but the occupation forces in the area that the Wolverines fought with were Cuban.

  6. Oh wow… this is just a comedy, why the big fuzz about it dear North-Korean people?
    In fact, if you watch “This is The End”, the movie works both ways, not only it’s parodizing and satirizing Rapture, the movie reminds us that it’s going to happen to, and gonna be hell scary when it does. Showed it to some of my Christian-devoted family and colleagues, and none of them shout criticsm yet praised it for including such important message.

    I have a feeling this movie is going to end up the same, they are plotting to kill a North-Korean leader but ended up doing weird stuff that provoke peace instead.

    • My guess is he dies of illness at the end and there’s no need for them to kill anyone.

      Kinda like what really happened.

  7. Kim Jong-Un seems like just the type of spoiled child to hold onto this and bring it up twenty years down the line to try and get a US leader to apologize to him after a hissy fit.

  8. Bobby Lee for Kim Jong Un or this movie is fail.

  9. really NK denounced something? I’m shocked. I’m pretty sure they denounce everything except starving your people to death.

  10. Looks fun! Typical Rogan stuff. Although I’d heard that his next movie was going to be based on the novel BIRDBRAIN, about stealing the secret KFC recipe.

  11. That’s it. I’m sold…I will now be viewing this film on opening day!!!

  12. Haha I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that is EXACTLY what Rogen intended.

    • Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

  13. “But even if that’s so, it’s worth questioning the wisdom of making a movie about this exact scenario – even with tongue fully in cheek – in light of the United States’ current relations with North Korea.”… No. No, it is not. Not even a tiny little bit.

    If you can’t parody a dictator who brainwashes his population when he isn’t busy starving them, torturing them or murdering them – and is on first name terms with Dennis Rodman – then damn, we might as well remove the word parody from the dictionary. And I generally try not to offend people, but maybe we make an exception for people who have their family members publicly executed?

    October, 1940: “Mr Chaplin, it’s worth questioning the wisdom of making a movie about this exact scenario in light of the United States’ current relations with Germany and Italy.”

    • The Great Dictator and The Interview don’t really compare; one explicitly casts a very real, very alive world leader as one of its characters and builds an assassination plot around him, and the other doesn’t. Hynkel is an obvious Hitler analogue, yes, but there’s a difference between using a screen surrogate in a movie like this versus doing away with the implied and name-dropping the person directly.

      For my money, I actually think The Interview looks terrific; it’s one of the fall films I’m most looking forward to. But I also think that, just as it’s within Rogen’s rights to make a movie about killing Kim Jong-Un, it’s within our rights to ask whether that’s kosher or not. (Obviously, I think it is. “Wanna go kill Kim Jong-un?” “Totally, I would love to assassinate Kim Jong-un, it’s a date.”)

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