Presented here is the European premiere of a specially restored version of Youn Yuh-jung’s film debut, seen on the big screen for the first time in 50 years. Directed by master-auteur Kim Ki-young, Woman of Fire has lost none of its original power to captivate audiences.
Myungja (Youn Yuh-jung) has come to the big city looking for work and, just maybe, a husband. When a well-dressed lady seems to offer the possibility of helping on both scores, she agrees to work for her family as an all-purpose maid servant. The father of the family, a handsome if weak-willed composer of cheesy pop songs will prove an easy prey when Myungja sets about dismantling the family’s fragile respectability.
The film is known as the first of various remakes by Kim Ki-young of his 1960 masterpiece The Housemaid. It is just as famous for signaling the debut of Youn Yuh-jung. Kim prefigured a new genre of ‘hostess’ films: tales of young country women who come to the city full of hope only to be abused by nice middle-class fathers/employers, often ending up working in bars or brothels or simply dead. But Kim ironically reverses the poles, setting the young woman loose, both here and in the earlier film, to ‘ruin’ both patriarch and his family.