Remakes of Asian films for a Western audience have a tendency to attract certain a amount of controversy, so perhaps it's appropriate that the remake of Park Chan-wook's gripping revenge thriller Oldboy should be directed by Spike Lee, who has already dealt with a number of controversial issues in his past work.
Lee's film stars Josh Brolin as Joe Doucett, a seemingly ordinary man who one day finds himself abducted and locked away in solitary confinement for years on end with no explanation as to what he's done to deserve such punishment. Eventually, he's set free, also without explanation, and seeks to find out who stole his life from him. Perhaps as a way of one-upping the source material, the protagonist of the remake is locked away for 20 years, rather than 15, and a lot happens in those years.
Keeping tabs on the outside world using the television, Joe is able to observe every major event between 1992 and 2012 as they each appear on the news. This aspect of the story is the subject of a rather odd marketing campaign for Oldboy being run on the film's official Tumblr, which features a host of new images showing Brolin during the imprisonment and contrasted with a major event from each year he is locked up. Check out the full gallery of images below:
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Whether it was the intent or not, some of the combinations of past events with images of Joe in his cell are more funny than tragic. There probably weren't many instances of him looking happy to choose from, so instead we see him screaming in anguish at the election of Barack Obama as president, weeping hysterically as the New York Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks, and taking a shower during Hurricane Katrina. There are a lot of politically and culturally-charged moments included, though it's unclear whether this will be a major aspect of the movie or whether it's just an attempt to get people talking/arguing in the lead-up to Oldboy's release.
As a marketing campaign, it's kind of clunky. The basic premise seems to be connecting major events in the outside world with Joe's life in his cell, by means of adding themes captions to each of the images. So, for Dick Cheney shooting his hunting partner in the face we get Joe proclaiming "My aim is true." The invention of Google is matched with, "Searching for answers isn't easy." Joe reacts to the castration of John Bobbitt with, "What did I do to deserve this?" He's like that annoying friend who turns every conversation around until it's about them.
Again, this isn't necessarily an indication that Oldboy will be this politically-charged, but if nothing else, it will probably attract some attention. This campaign might well be retitled "20 years worth of internet arguments." With that in mind, please be gentle with one another in the comments.
Oldboy opens in U.S. theaters on November 27th, 2013.
Source: Oldboy Tumblr