Tragedy in a Royal Courtyard | Teaser Screening

London Korean Film Festival | The Throne 18 April 2016 | Regent Street Cinema
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In the plush arena of the recently refurbished Regent Street Cinema, I, along with a room full of foreign dignitaries and cultural ambassadors, was taken on a odyssey that spanned three generations. The narrative is all centered on a grey-tiled courtyard of the Royal Palace of King Youngjo, the 21st King of the Joseon Dynasty.

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Opening with rolling drumbeats, interspersed with hypnotic chants, the soundtrack sets a hurried and uneasy trajectory for film portraying the relationship between two-sets of father and son. Close-ups of marching footsteps fracturing mirror-smooth puddles foreshadows the various misfortunes and misunderstandings of the great tragedy woven by Director, Lee Joon-ik. The story is pulled from the archives of Royal Korean history which regales the tale of a father who kills his own son. However it is Lee’s powerfully stylised portrayal that provides a heart-wrentching visuals that breaths life into dusty words. The Throne has won Lee numerous nominations and awards, most notably ‘Best Film’ in the 35th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards.

Mesmerizing period costume and hairstyles set against a grand royal palace shadows the rather unnatural old-aged makeup. My personal favourite of the film has to be the subtle repetition of scenes and motifs. The courtyard. A dragon fan. Subtle details grounds the the complicated themes of hierarchy, power, respect, familial love that interplay throughout multiple timelines and viewpoints.

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Director Lee Joon-ik Q&A © Photo by Grace Lai

Upon the conclusion of a seamlessly paced and emotionally wrenching film, audiences were treated to a Q&A session with the Director, mediated by the UK Film Commissioner. Q&As offers a platform for audiences to engage with creatives on an intimate level that offers deeper levels of understanding beyond personal interpretations. One revelation Lee shared with the audience regarded the methodological approach the actors Song Kang-ho, King Youngjo, and Yoo Ah-in, Crown Prince Sado, took on for the film, in order to give a raw performances. This meant that throughout filming both actors keep their distance from each other in order to build on feelings of hostility, which their characters developed.

London Korean Film Festival brings some of Korea’s best cinematic experience to London and in hopes of extending the annual event, Teaser Screenings are set to release highly anticipated Korean films on a monthly schedule in the build up to the next full installation.

The next teaser to screen is The Priest which centers in on a renegade Priest who performs a exorcism on a young victim of a hit-and-run who has been experiencing strange phenomena. It will be showing on 2 June 2016 at 7pm at Picturehouse Central. For bookings please visit koreanfilm.co.uk.
The Throne
Original Title: Sado
Running time: 125 mins

Actors: Song Kang-ho, Yoo Ah-in, Moon Geun-young, Jeon Hye-jin, Kim Hae-suk, So Ji-seob.
Production: (South Korea) A Showbox (in South Korea) release and presentation of a Tiger Pictures production. (International sales: Showbox, Seoul.) Produced by Oh Sung-hyeon. Executive producer, You Jeong-hun.
Crew: Directed by Lee Joon-ik. Screenplay, Cho Chul-hyun, Lee Song, Oh Sung-hyeon. Camera (color, widescreen), Kim Tae-kyung; production designer, Kang Seung-yong; editors, Kim Sang-beom, Kim Jae-beom; music, Bang Jun-seok; sound, Choi Tae-young; special effects, Effect Storm; visual effects, Digital Idea; choreographer, Kim Sin-woong.