Monday, November 15, 2010

Yong Zheng Dynasty

I have developed a peculiar pattern with men. Whenever a guy attains a certain level of respect from me, I would offer to translate one bloody long Chinese TV series to him. This historical dramatic series is 32 hours in length/44 episodes and it is called Yong Zheng Dynasty. My reasons are somewhat convoluted:

- 2 parts because I want to impress him (BTW it really works)
- 2 parts because I love the series so much
- 1 part because I am proud of being Chinese and this is the best way to show them what being Chinese means
- 1 part because it is a great way to spend time with the guy

I have only done this twice in my life; but I assure you it is not from lack of offering, it is mostly because the guy freaks out the minute I suggest it. Forty four episodes?

But come on, how can anyone really enjoy short historical dramas? I love history but I generally HATE how they are shown on screen. A couple of hours is hardly enough to get to know the past and measure great deeds, and in the end, most of them resort to cheap titillation with stunning costumes, intrigues, and worse.... ridiculously gorgeous actors. I just can't take them seriously.

The Yong Zheng Dynasty is a gem on so many levels. It is classically Chinese: practical, soulful, sad. But it is none of that bouncing off water and I-am-so-deep faces Chinese movies are known for. Nor is it thousands of minions doing some pretty thing all at once, that just gets so boring. Instead this is a beautifully crafted story, slow and steady. It is about how one prince took upon himself to help his father to control the aftermath of a major flood, and from there he embarked on a long and tortured journey to become Emperor. It is about redeeming the reputation of an Emperor who worked himself to death by telling his story thoughtfully and truthfully through a modern art form. It is about telling a Chinese story, and I love it so much I will translate it to the world if I can.


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