Planet of Snail, a South Korean/Japanese/Finnish co-production, directed by Seung-Jun Yi, is a gentle, slice-of-life style documentary.
It lets us into the lives of two extraordinary people, the deaf-blind Korean poet and writer Young-Chan, who’s enclosed existence allows him to live without the entrapments of ego, but allows for a wonderful, singular love story. He is connected, heart and soul, with his wife, Soon-Ho, who suffers from a spine disability, and is diminuitive in size when compared to her husband. They share the world through his writing, and finger braille, she is his window on the world, he is her heart.
Through the course of this moving film, we see how the two of them live together, take on the world, share dinner with friends, go sledding for the first time, and communing with nature.
These types of documentaries always give me pause, and allow me to reflect on my own life, these two could be angry, and at odds with the world at large, but they seem happy, even joyous, which always makes me reconsider my own faults and problems. How can I have anything to complain about, when this heart-warming couple seems so happy with who and where they are in life?
There is a sequence in the film that sees them seperated, and it actually upset me quite a bit, you can tell that they are happiest together and that when they are apart, not only are they both unhappy, neither of them truly feels complete.
The film is lovely to look at showing South Korea through winter to spring, a picturesque backdrop to the love story that is the film’s core. Watching Soon-Ho type messages on Young-Chan’s fingers as they walk, or share a quiet moment in the park is incredibly romantic.
They travel, they write, Young-Chan instructs actors on how to adapt their performances to potray his disabilities.
These two miraculous people have found one another, and they open their home and their world not only to their friends, who are numerous, some with their own disabilites, (one of whom tells a story of how he thought he was alone in his deaf-blind world until he met Young-Chan and how he’s envious of his marriage) but to us.
We come out changed at the end of the experience, as the film leaves them, engaging in the world we have around us and trying to slough off the “swamp of ego” that weighs so many of us down, but has no hold on Young-Chan.
These are people that we would be lucky to know in our own lives, and know they are blessed to have one another in theirs.
Planet of Snail screens Monday, April 30th at 9:00pm at the Light Box, Wednesday, May 2 at 1:30pm at the ROM, and Sunday, May 6, again at the Light Box at 2:00pm.