The Birthday Boy (2004)

Both the story, and the animation style are refreshingly original and beautifully told.
Korean War, 1951 Little Manuk is playing on the streets of his village and dreaming of life at the front where his father is a soldier. He returns home to find a parcel on the doorstep and, thinking it is a birthday present, he opens it. But its contents will change his life. He wanders through streets of his Korean village and plays on his own. With an air of poignancy, we watch as he plays among the ruins of his town, watching an invading train fly past, forging new toys and acting out his dreams of becoming a soldier; just like his father. He is young, na ve and innocent; completely oblivious to the horrible nature of war. This brilliantly simple concept of portraying the horror of war through the na ve eyes of a child heightens the profound values Park is pushing through his film.

The little boy has so much character and is like no other character you've seen on the screen before. Manuk's 'cute' look was a conscious reflection of his innocence in a war-torn environment. We see the world not only through Manuk's eyes, but in his facial expressions and movements that also reflect his emotions without the need for a voice-over or dialogue.
Birthday Boy is based on Sejong Park's own childhood experiences of growing up in Pusan, South Korea. The influence of his hometown is reflected in the landscape, architecture, and layout of the city pictured in the film.
A sad, delicate story where the implications and the consequences are left off for the viewer.

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