Park Chan-wook directs out-of-this-world iPhone film about ghosts and grave robbers

Acclaimed South Korean director of 'Oldboy' and 'The Handmaiden' is behind Apple's spectacular filled with thrills, chills and more

Published On
Feb 18, 2022

Editor's Pick

Acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook is the latest big talent to take the director’s chair—behind an iPhone.

The creator of celebrated movies including “Oldboy” and “The Handmaiden” is known for his absurdist storytelling, dark humor and inventive art direction and cinematography—all of which are on full display in this fantastical short film that rolls a ghost tale, a martial arts thriller, a love story and musical into one.

The piece opens with an undertaker mysteriously digging up a grave in the wee hours. He's not in search of bling—he's in need of a coffin for a local hero, the White Marten, who died by killer hornet sting as she was defending her village against a con man and his baddies. (The world’s in such a bad state these days that there aren’t enough trees to go around to build caskets.)  In the process, however, the undertaker enrages the current occupant of the tomb, a sword-brandishing warrior known for knocking off robbers of all kinds during his days on earth.

What ensues is a high-octane tale mixing humor, horror, out-of-this-world stunts, a bit of love, music, dancing and otherworldly backdrops  and landscapes, all shot on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. 

Titled “Life Is But a Dream,” it's first iPhone campaign to have been produced, shot and edited entirely in Korea. Woven into the tale are key themes in Korean culture, such as the interconnection between life and death. 

“It’s a story that I’ve always wanted to tell,” said Park in the behind-the-scenes film accompanying the ad. “A specific camera didn’t come to mind when I wrote it. What’s amazing is that we can capture such a story into a film with iPhone.



Park is not the project's only big name. Some of the most respected actors in Korea stepped into the roles of the film’s main characters. Yoo Hae-jin played the undertaker, Kim Ok-vin the White Marten, and Park Jeong-min took on the role of the swordsman warrior. 

The ad is not Park’s first outing with an iPhone. He shot his 2011 short film “Night Fishing” on an iPhone 4. The film went on to win the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.

The ad comes on the heels of another stunning iPhone film out of Asia, the Chinese New Year short directed by Zhang Meng, about a director finding passion for his craft once again. 

The Park film continues the campaign’s legacy of artfully and entertainingly showing off the capabilities of the product. 

“For people who think filmmaking is such a daunting task and are afraid to even try it, I say, ‘Fear no more,'” added Park in the behind-the-scenes film. “Just pick up your iPhone and shoot your daily life, the things around you or your own story. Begin by shooting anything and from there, take one small step at a time.”

Apple LIfe is but a dream