Watch A State of Mind
- 1 hr 33 min
A State of Mind is a powerful documentary release in 2004 that captures the hopes, aspirations, and dedication two North Korean girls have in becoming gymnastics champions. The film is set in Pyongyang where we see the girls and their families work tirelessly to perfect their routines for the Mass Games - an annual choreographed dance event involving more than 100,000 performers.
The film, directed by Daniel Gordon, showcases the rigorous training and discipline that the girls undergo in gymnastics, but it also reveals much about life in North Korea, a repressive society that frequently suppresses individuality and personal freedoms. Through the lens of these two girls, we are given a rare glimpse into the daily lives of ordinary North Koreans.
The film is a well-crafted, visually stunning documentary that takes us on a journey through North Korea, as we follow the gymnasts during their daily routines, training, and competition. But it is the behind-the-scenes interviews with the girls and their families that set this film apart from other documentaries. Gordon takes us beyond the gymnastics to reveal the personal lives of the athletes, the sacrifices made by their families, and their struggles in a country where personal aspirations are often thwarted by political realities.
The primary focus of the documentary is on the two gymnasts, 13-year-old Pak Hyon-Song and 11-year-old Kim Song Yun, who have been selected to compete in the Mass Games, an event that celebrates the regime of Kim Jong-Il. These young girls are determined to succeed in their performance and bring glory to their country. They are trained by an elite coach named Kim Jong-Suk, who is herself a legend in North Korean sports circles.
Filmmaker Daniel Gordon captures the intense and grueling training the girls go through, one that is shaped by a rigorous routine designed to create perfection. The coaches and trainers take them through sessions several times a week, making them practice routines over and over again until they get it right. We see them learning the art of balance, rhythm, and synchronization with other teammates to create an astonishing performance.
Beyond the performances, the documentary also delves into the girls' personal lives outside of the gym. We are shown their homes, where we see that they lead relatively normal lives, just like any other young girl in the world. We also hear their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for their futures. It is remarkable to see how genuinely these girls believe in their country and its leaders, even though the outside world views it very differently.
The film's second focus is on the families of the athletes. We see their sacrifices and their dedication to ensuring their children have every opportunity to excel. For example, Pak Hyon-Song's mother left her job to be with her daughter full-time to provide her with the support and guidance she needs. The families play an essential role, and the documentary captures the emotional dimension of their sacrifices - a dimension that is often overlooked in sports documentaries.
The film raises numerous questions about the role of sports in the lives of young people all over the world. It questions the underlying notion of nationalism and the desire for glory at any cost. It makes us wonder if sports competitions like these are worth the time invested and if they provide any real value beyond the show's surface.
Finally, the film brings the viewer face-to-face with the political realities of North Korea. Through the stories of the two gymnasts and their families, we see how individual lives are bound up with the larger struggles of their society. We see how the government strategically uses sports to promote its own image and control its citizens.
In conclusion, A State of Mind is a poignant, emotionally charged documentary that takes the viewer behind the scenes of one of the world's most closed-off countries. It is a must-watch for anyone who has an interest in seeing what lies beyond the headlines about North Korea.
A State of Mind is a 2003 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 33 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7 and a MetaScore of 63.