The Age of Shadows: the Film music review

The Age of Shadows 




The title for Korean version is 밀정(密偵), literally, means a secret agency.

To have information written in English, visit here.




I am not sure this posting is a spoiler, but it is true that this includes some parts of the synopsis, which has never revealed in the media.

Most numbers, which consist of fast repetitions of cacophony or same notes, seem to use to increase the tension in the movie.

Only two numbers have full cadences. Both of them are used when the tensions carry to extremes.

The director said in a recent interview that he intended to make ‘Cold  Noir,’ but it erupts ‘hotness’ in the latter half of the movie because main characters suffered from hardships.

The perspective of film music, I guess dissonance assumes ‘Cold,’ whereas consonance assumes ‘Hot’ in this film.


The following numbers was used at the hot scenes in the movie.

  1. Louis Armstrong- When you are smiling

This song is employed when the independent fighters were captured by the Japanese police.

According to the newspaper interview with the director, Kim Ji-woon, he used this to demonstrate the paradoxical situation that when Korea desperately resisted to the Japanese Empire, there was easeful country, the USA, which is half way around the world.

But I think the USA is too far. He didn’t have to go there. One of the contemporary popular songs in Korea might be better. Independence fighters’ neighborhoods lived (or at least pretended to live) in peace.




  1. Maurice Ravel- Bolero

Ravel’s dance music, Bolero is used when Lee Jung-chul exploded bombs.

This shows the director intended to use carefree or graceful numbers in the extreme scenes to disclose paradoxical situation.

When I watched this film, I wondered why the director wanted to use this music, since the music and the scene seemed not harmonious. While Bolero sounds elegant and alluring, the scene shows the circumspection and astonishment. There seemed nothing in common between the number and the scene except that everything goes along as if it was naturally planned. Yet, I found his use of the music was effective. It sounded awkward, but made a deep impression on the audience’s (or at least my) mind.

The exquisite blend of the perfect cadence of the number and the moment the bomb explodes is attractive. I guess this relates to the consideration of marketability. As there are many scenes like characters in torment, the pleasure of victory is probably necessary for the audience of the movie.




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