Memories of Murder (2003)

Long before his Palme d’Or-winning art-house smash, Parasite, South Korean writer-director Bong Joon Ho made his reputation with the brilliant investigative procedural Memories of Murder (2003). Inspired by Korea’s first serial killings, which took place between 1986 and 1991 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi province, the movie is still regarded by many as Bong’s masterpiece.

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Memories of Murder is often compared to David Fincher’s Zodiac (though Memories of Murder came out four years earlier). And like ZodiacMemories of Murder is ultimately less concerned with actual acts of violence than with their long, painful aftermath: For those who knew the victims, for the detectives tasked with investigating their crimes, and for the community as a whole.

But if the thematic and narrative beats might sound familiar, Bong Joon-ho uses his characteristic genre-bending and his striking visual palette to make a crime drama with a weight and texture unlike anything you’ve seen. By the end of Memories of Murder, the environment literally looks different, as if the pain of these murders has manifested itself in the landscape. 

Scott Meslow, GQ

  • Orig. title: 살인의 추억
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: Swedish, Finnish
  • Distribution: Future Film
  • Cinematography: Kim Hyung-ku
  • Editing: Kim Sun-min
  • Music: Tarô Iwashiro
  • Sound: Lee Byung-ha
  • Production design: Ryu Seong-hie