The South Korean movie industry is acclaimed for producing films with exceptionally mature themes and impeccable filmmaking. The nation’s movies were pushed into prominence after the Academy Award victory of ‘Parasite.’ ‘The Witch: Part 1. Subversion‘ is a South Korean film that can be categorized under the superhero genre. However, the mystery element proves to be more dominant.
‘The Witch: Part 1. Subversion’ revolves around a girl, Ja-yoon who has no memory about her life before a certain age. Several people attempt to find her while she lives with a couple who had adopted her ten years ago. It is later revealed that Ja-yoon had been one of the subjects of a government experiment that led to her having several superpowers including super strength and telekinesis.
(SPOILERS) However, viewers then find out that Ja-yoon hadn’t really lost her memory. She had planned on making Dr. Baek (her “creator”) find her. She wanted to get her hands on a certain chemical that would prevent her from dying due to her condition.
The character of Ja-yoon is played by Kim Da-mi. The role of Dr. Baek, on the other hand, is essayed by Jo Min-su. Choi Woo-shik of ‘Parasite’ fame is also a part of the movie’s cast apart from Park Hee-soon, Go Min-si and Choi Jung-woo.
Is The Witch: Part 1. Subversion Based on a True Story?
Several viewers might have wondered whether ‘The Witch: Part 1. Subversion’ is based on a true story. Well, it is not and it is not hard to imagine why. The film’s basic premise revolves around a character with superhuman powers and government-approved human experiments. ‘The Witch: Part 1. Subversion’ is purely fictional and speculative.
However, one of the central themes of the movie is quite real: that of innate nature and learned nature. To be clearer, Ja-yoon’s character is depicted to have been created by genetically modifying her brain to be more violent. However, the couple that adopts her believes that she can be changed if they provide her with a loving home. Yet, it is revealed, that she ends up killing several dogs and cows in the couple’s farm. But, her restraint is also easy to see. Ja-yoon does find true friendship and her acceptance of the couple as her parents is there to see. Hence, she would never turn violent against the people she loves.
The idea of “nature versus nurture” has been an intensely discussed notion in various fields including psychology. “The nature versus nurture debate involves the extent to which particular aspects of behavior are a product of either inherited (i.e., genetic) or acquired (i.e., learned) influences. Nature is what we think of as pre-wiring and is influenced by genetic inheritance and other biological factors. Nurture is generally taken as the influence of external factors after conception, e.g., the product of exposure, life experiences, and learning on an individual” (source).
This theme is prevalent in the film. It leads to viewers wondering whether the protagonist is “good” or “bad” and proves to be a clever way to make the superhero protagonist a gray character.