To replace the bitter taste of movie watching experience in Korea (where we saw Madagascar 3 in Korean, Blah!), I wanted to see the movie MASQUERADE- 15 days lost to History (Korean Name is Gwang Hae- The man who made king) that is running successfully in Seoul since September. I was hoping to brave through the movie with my knowledge of Korean (equal to that of a three year old -as my Korean teacher carefully put it) when i found that Yongsan CGV runs subtitles in English for Korean movies on Thursday at 7PM and Sunday at 5PM. Yay!
The movie starts with off with intrigue. During the reign of the King Gwang Hae of the Joseon dynasty in Korea, there is an entry as told by the king- "Do not put on record, what is to be hidden" followed by 2 weeks' worth of records missing from the royal journals. The movie tries to fill in what could have happened during that time.
As the kingdom is at unrest due to corruption, upheaval in the court along with the menaces from the Ming empire, the king is constantly under the threat of assassination. The king orders to find a look-alike to double up like him. The look-alike, though a commoner and a low-life, shows his love for his kingdom and ends up making radical changes that the real king was unable to accomplish.
The storyline -though not very new to us- was pleasing and fresh when seen from the Korean royal setting. The luxurious life of the King of Korea, the insignificance of the Queen and the extraordinarily lowly duties of the maids in the palace and corruption in the court along with their fear of the Ming dynasty in China during the Joseon period were also apparent. There were some well woven comedy scenes which added color but did not affect the serious tone of the movie and matched the storyline quite well. My only regret was that the chubby, cute little 15 year maid, Sa-wol, whom you know is going to be sacrificed, but cant help praying that the king would somehow revive her, gets killed just like in Tamil movies :( I was cruelly reminded that the story was made to fit a real life incident when the real king orders the fake one dead along with the royal secretary, to keep things under wraps. Tragic end to an otherwise wonderful movie.
I think it is an amazing experience to see the movie in its native tongue (with the subtitles, of course) for people to enjoy the it to the full. I especially loved the scene when the fake guy is ready to quit the masquerade but bounces back with an inspirational monologue to the court to rise up to the enemies and protect and defend its people than to be living in fear of the Ming dynasty. Though i did not understand a word of what he said, the emotion he displayed, the passion conveyed was extraordinary, bringing tears to my eyes. I have become a fan of that guy- Lee Byung Hun. He made me enjoy the funny antics when he was training to be king, made me feel compassionate when he consoles the Sa-wol, the teenaged maid, enraged when he was a reckless king and filled me with fervent ardor when he calls up to unite to protect the country and fight against the enemy!
|King Gwang Hae's gold and red robes in the movie|
|Queen's embroidered silk hanbok|
|And the matching slippers :)|
This movie is now available to see in Youtube with English subtitles here. Sorry, the link no longer exists :( It was removed.
ABC Wednesday: G for Gwang Hae
Thursday Challenge: Red