One of the curses of wealth is the lack of a work/life balance. To maintain a lavish lifestyle, one must dedicate their lives to their work. Because the dedication to work provides the money needed to remain wealthy, then some regular household duties can be covered by hiring someone to do them. From maintaining a house to raising children, these hired servants are often brought into the home to perform the duties that the employed individual has neither time nor capacity for in their daily lives. Usually, these individuals are women, as housework and child-rearing have traditionally been assigned to females. And yet, by bringing in an individual and letting them into your house, a home can drastically change . . . either positively or negatively. This week’s two films highlight the maids and governesses hired on by the rich and wealthy.
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 109 minutes / 1.8 hours
Housework can be a real chore. In traditional households, a wife would take care of these tasks while the husband would work to bring in money. Unfortunately, whether by sickness, injury, or pregnancy, there are times when the housework can be too much for these wives. While some of the extremely wealthy will hire housemaids on a more permanent basis, sometimes a short-term housemaid can be useful to bridge the gap during those times when a wife cannot handle the workload. Of course, with another woman in the house, the temptation to stray from the marriage is introduced. Maybe the housemaid is younger and more attractive, or maybe the housemaid has her own nefarious plans for the man of the house. Whatever the case, hiring a housemaid could carry some risks that these families don’t initially realize.
Dong-sik Kim (Kim Jin-kyu) is a composer who lives with his wife and two children. With his wife expecting a third child, she soon becomes so weak that she cannot work around the house. Consequently, Mr. Kim hires Myung-sook (Lee Eun-shim) as a housemaid to help around the house. Because the need for a housemaid is pressing, the hiring process failed to identify the housemaid’s mental stability. From capturing rats with her hands to spying on Mr. Kim, Myung-sook eventually seduces her employer and becomes pregnant. With the power dynamic now changed within the household, Mrs. Kim (Ju Jeung-ryu) insists that Myung-sook kill her bastard child. Instead of obeying Mrs. Kim, the housemaid makes a power play and threatens to kill the Kim children, eventually succeeding and bringing down the entire household in the process.
The Sound of Music
Length: 174 minutes / 2.9 hours
Parenting is best performed with the two-parent system. A mother and father usually have a much easier time raising their children than a single parent, mostly due to the distribution and sharing of responsibilities. However, sometimes the death of one of the partners can induce a single parent to continue on raising these children by themselves. In these situations, the single parent still needs to work in order to provide for their children, but as a result, will have no time to actually spend raising them. This is where governesses can be brought in to fill in the gap left by the missing parent. While a governess might not be necessary for one child, they are certainly helpful when there are seven. It can take some time for the children to trust and obey a governess, especially considering she is not their parent. However, the governesses who do succeed, manage to gain the children’s trust and love.
Maria (Julie Andrews) is the free-spirited headache of Nonnberg Abbey. Her energetic personality is in direct contrast to the solemnity required of a nunnery. Consequently, she is sent by the Mother Abbess to assist a retired naval Captain as a governess for his seven children. The task is daunting at first, as she tries to break through the hard exterior of the children brought about by Georg von Trapp’s (Christopher Plummer) militaristic parenting style. Gradually, the children start to trust her as she brings vivacity and enjoyment of life into their home. Unfortunately, Georg does not necessarily agree with her parenting style, causing him to send her back to the Abbey. However, when his children show how much they love Maria, he relents, and she stays, eventually marrying him and helping the whole family escape the Nazis who invade Austria shortly afterward.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 women working in the house