Padak (Swimming to Sea is the title on Amazon Prime) is South Korea's version of Finding Nemo. Just look at that movie poster. Sure, mackerel aren't as flashy as clown fish, but that poster with the triumphant fish and happy seagulls in the background made me instantly think of the Disney counterpart. In the words of another famous (alien) fish, "It's a trap!" Padak is set up like Nemo's portion of the Disney movie but, instead of being trapped in a goofy dentist's office, Padak is trapped in an aquarium full of edible fish and trying to avoid being filleted alive and served as sushi in the attached restaurant. Graphically. Like the fish in the aquarium can SEE into the restaurant as this happens to other fish that were just in the aquarium with them. This is basically Finding Nemo if Finding Nemo were about the life or death struggle in an unfair and uncaring society that is basically waiting for you to be picked off and served as food or grow weak enough that your peers can eat you and fill their own greedy bellies. That's the simple synopsis. This movie says very deep and complex things about the world and our place in it. It is pretty brutal and pretty savage and pretty bleak (O.K., REALLY bleak) but there are a few musical numbers to make it seem like a traditional animated kid's movie (trust me IT IS NOT). The really brilliant thing is that this movie acknowledges that it is playing on Finding Nemo's popularity to garner an audience (one of the movie posters has Padak and a clown fish nose to nose) and there IS a clown fish scene in the movie but the clown fish here represent the pretty socialite people who recoil in disgust when they are forced to be in the presence of common, working class bait fish. It's a cool and kind of shocking scene. Like this whole movie. I really liked it. I mean, I liked Finding Nemo too but in a very different way. Instead of LOL "He touched the butt" moments, there are "I wonder if it is morally ethical to eat the corpse of my dead friend because I am hungry" moments. Yeah, kids eat that kind of stuff up!
I really wanted to see this film after YouTuber Saberspeck reviewed it on his channel. You basically can't find this film anywhere. Which is a shame because it's one of the more interesting, if not most gut-wrenching, emotionally brutal animated films I've seen.This is essentially a very dark, very bleak, uncomfortable version of Finding Nemo - set and made in South Korea. In the Pixar film, Gill tells Nemo that fish are not meant to be in a box because "it does things to you."In this film, the protagonist is danger not only from being butchered by the humans at the sushi shop, but also from the other fish in the tank, who are run by dictator Flat-fish. Because the fish are not fed, they resort to cannibalism. Combining that with the confined space and the every day dread that one of them will get eaten, they often turn on each other in nasty ways.Padak however, refuses to give in and never gives up her desire to be free of the horror of living in a sushi-tank.There are musical interludes in which the animation changes and morphs into sequences akin to the ones in Watership Down and Pink Floyd The Wall, that are incredibly beautiful and mesmerising.I cried much more than I would have thought at this film. The characters really won me over and were completely believable. I'm going to find it really hard to ever eat a fish again after this.
I was very moved by this film and I hope more people will get to see it.