Saturday, 17 October 2015

Film Review: "The Throne" ("사도") (2015).

The film's tagline reads "The tragedy between father and son begins", which is at the heart of The Throne (사도). This South Korean historical period drama film directed by Lee Joon-ik. Set during the reign of King Yeongjo in 18th century Korea, the film is about the life of Crown Prince Sado, the heir to the throne who was deemed unfit to rule and, at age 27. It also chronicles his struggle with his father and long-ruling King Yeongjo, until he was condemned to death by his own father by being locked in a rice chest for eight days until he suffocated and starved.

Based on true historic event called 'Im-o-hwa-byeon' in 1762, which King Yeongjo decreeing Crown prince to climb into and be sealed within a large wooden rice chest. Crown prince died eight days later. History indicates Sado suffered from mental illness; accused of randomly killing people in the palace and being a serial rapist. By court rules King Yeongjo could not kill his son by his own hands. As a result, Yeongjo, with the consent of Sado's mother, Lady Yi, issued a royal decree that ordered Sado climb into and be sealed within a large wooden rice chest on a hot July day in 1762. After eight days, Sado died. Sado was buried on Mt BaebongSan in Yangju. In 1789, his body was moved by his son King Jeongjo, to its current location, then called Hyeollyungwonnear Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul. Five years later, the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was built by King Jeongjo, specifically to memorialize and honor his father's tomb (the construction lasted 1794-1796, while the official reception was 1795). In 1816, Lady Hyegyeong died and was buried with her husband. In 1899, Prince Sado and Lady Hyegyeong were posthumously elevated in status and given the titles Emperor Yangjo and Empress Heonyeong. Their tomb was upgraded accordingly and renamed Yungneung. However, despite the story told in History classes and in the film, during the 19th century, there were rumors that Sado was not mentally ill, but had been framed; however, these rumors are contradicted by his wife, Lady Hyegyeong, in The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong. Sado's death remains an issue of debate as to whether his death was a retribution for his actual misconduct or if he was the victim of a conspiracy by his political opponents.

The film stars Song Kang-Ho as King Yeongjo, Yoo Ah-In as Crown Prince Sado, Moon Geun-Young as Hyegyeong Hong, Jeon Hye-Jin as Youngbin Lee, and Kim Hae-Sook as Queen Inwon. The cast gave exceptional performances despite the lack of authenticity to their historical counterparts. The performances between Song Kang-Ho and Yoo Ah-In proved to be the film's most compelling of all.

The Throne may lack the complex political context and historical authenticity of the real-life event, but the cast, including Song Kang-Ho and Yoo Ah-In, surprisingly bring an emotional level to this profoundly mistaken interpretation of one of the most controversial periods in Korean history.

Simon says The Throne receives:

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