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My Beautiful Girl, Ma-ri 2002 Mari Iyagi

Stunning Animation at its Best

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"Once in a lifetime, love becomes a fairytale.
A secluded seaside village.
Namoo is a twelve-year-old boy who has lost his father and lives with his grandmother and mother.
His only friends are Junho, who is the same age as he is, and Yeo, his cat.
One day in the stationary store in front of his school, Namoo discovers a mysterious shining marble.
He thinks about it all night, and the next day he runs to the store to buy it, but is disappointed to find that it is gone.
Namoo and Yeo are playing near the old lighthouse when Yeo runs inside.
Namoo follows the cat in and is wandering around when he discovers the mysterious marble on a shelf.
The instant a beautiful light shines through the marble, the interior of the lighthouse is suddenly transformed into a world of fantasy. Namoo is about to fall into nothingness when a girl covered in white takes hold of his hand and lifts him up. A world of beautiful light and fantasy opens up beneath them.
The next day, Namoo tells Junho about the adventure, but Junho is incredulous. So they visit the lighthouse together and see Mari.
After that, the two boys share the beautiful secret together. But while the boys continue their wonderful encounters with Mari, Namoo's grandmother collapses from illness and their village is engulfed by a storm and Junho's father falls in danger..."


Director: Lee Sung Gang
Starring: Lee Byung Hun (as voice of Nam-woo), Ahn Sung Ki, Bae Chong-Ok, Kong Hyung-Jin, Kim Dong-Ah, Na Mun-Hee, Jang Hang-Seon
Screenwriters: Kang Soo Jung, Seo Mi Ae, Lee Sung Gang
Release Date: January 11, 2002
Award: Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2002 - Mari Iyagi (Grand prix du long m├ętrage)

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Nam-woo lives with his grandmother and mother after losing his father to a tragic accident in a small village by the sea. He and his best friend Jun-ho are both 12 years old and they hang out with Yo, the cat. One day, he sees a mysterious bead that gives out a strange light at a local store. He worries over it that night and goes back there to buy it but it's no longer there. Disappointed, he hangs out with Yo by the lighthouse. When Yo runs inside the lighthouse, Nam-wu follows it. There he finds the bead on a shelf. When the light hits the bead, the lighthouse transforms into a magical place. As Nam-wu plummets into a pit, a young girl reaches out for him in the nick of time. Nam-wu tells Jun-ho about his fantastic experience but he doesn't believe him. The two visit the lighthouse again and meet Ma-ri, the girl from a fantasy land. The two share this secret between them. But as the two pass their days with Ma-ri, Nam-wu's grandmother collapses and a storm that hits the village puts Jun-ho's father in jeopardy

My Beautiful Girl, Mari is an animated feature film by image-maker and director Lee Sung-Gang who was recognized by the world's most renowned Annecy Animation Film Festival.

Synopsis: Once in a lifetime, love becomes a fairytale. Namoo is a twelve-year-old boy who has lost his father and lives with his grandmother and mother. His only friends are Junho, who is the same age as he is, and Yeo, his cat. One day in the stationary store in front of his school, Namoo discovers a mysterious shining marble. He thinks about it all night, and the next day he runs to the store to buy it, but is disappointed to find that it is gone. Namoo and Yeo are playing near the old lighthouse when Yeo runs inside. Namoo follows the cat in and is wandering around when he discovers the mysterious marble on a shelf. The instant a beautiful light shines through the marble, the interior of the lighthouse is suddenly transformed into a world of fantasy. Namoo is about to fall into nothingness when a girl covered in white takes hold of his hand and lifts him up. A world of beautiful light and fantasy opens up beneath them. While the boys continue their wonderful encounters with Mari, Namoo's grandmother collapses from illness and their village is engulfed by a storm and Junho's father falls in danger...

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Review: Call this the not-so-WONDERFUL DAYS, if you will, a sentimental, perceptive tale of a young boy, Nam-woo, coping with the loss of his father (which probably has even greater resonance in a patriarchal society like Korea's), the illness of his grandmother, his mother's new boyfriend and the impending departure to the city of his best friend by retreating into a world of fantasy where he meets the title character, a mute girl who becomes the only character in his life with any sense of permanence: his mother is trying to move on, his grandmother has a very pragmatic sense of her own mortality, his best friend will be continuing at school in another city (something repeated in the present-day opening sequence, in which the friend announces again that he's off to study abroad, underscoring the sense of separation we all feel from even our closest friends with the passage of time).

It's ultimately a cautious, profound tale about letting go and moving on, something the main character deeply wishes he could avoid, and something that can stir-up similar childhood memories in even the most hardened cynic.

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