The Red Chapel – Review

Posted January 26, 2010 in

The Red Chapel

Sundance Film Festival

Director: Mads Brügger

It’s no secret the country of North Korea has been shrouded under a cultural blanket for over 50 years. Under the leadership of General Kim Jong-il (a.k.a. the Dear Leader), the socialist state’s citizens have endured an unprecedented storm of fear and oppression, and that’s exactly what director Mads Brügger wants to expose in his documentary, The Red Chapel. The title comes from the name of Mads’ comedy troupe (as well as a code name used by a Communist spy cell), which embodies two adopted Danish-Korean comedians, Simon and Jacob, the latter being a self-proclaimed “spastic.” In order to gain access into the restricted country, the ensemble poses as a pro-Marxist group and offer to perform a Danish inspired vaudevillian showcase before an auditorium of students for cultural exchange. What results is a voyeuristic glimpse into a country occupied by individuals appearing to be controlled by an invisible force. The most poignant and pertinent element comes from the relationship between Jacob and Ms. Pak, the group’s patriotic tour guide, as she becomes eerily attached to the guest in what appears to an elaborate scheme to disguise the nation’s true feelings and treatment toward the handicapped. It’s astonishing that all of the footage presented was confiscated by the North Korean secret police and analyzed to assure the film expressed love and respect for the dictator, but nothing could be father from the truth as Mads has produced his own form of propaganda to bring the realization of a broken country to light. While the past two years of Sundance have included the gripping caper documentaries Man on Wire and The Cove, The Red Chapel takes the notion of espionage filmmaking one step further in the right and entertaining direction.

Jimmy Martin



sundance film guide


Screening Times:

January 22, 2010 – 9:00pm – Broadway Centre Cinemas VI

January 23, 2010 – 3:00pm – Holiday Village Cinema IV

January 24, 2010 – 11:30pm – Prospector Square Theatre

January 27, 2010 – 12:00pm – Screening Room Sundance Resort

January 29, 2010 – 6:30pm – Holiday Village Cinema II