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Posts Tagged ‘Sandglass’

It came as no surprise to me that the epic k-drama Sandglass did not miss a beat or lose its way as it accelerated to its close. It was a breath-taking finish. I’m no sentimentalist, usually quite good at being objective, and I’ve had a pretty good idea of how this whole thing would play out. Nonetheless, the ending swept me up in all its glorious pathos and got me all emotional.

[more short non-spoilery reflections after the break]

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What could be more glorious than Song Joong Ki angsting? For many of us, this would be a rhetorical question.

I’ve not been blogging much this weekend. I’ve been busy conducting a normal life, you know, getting out in the sun, meeting people, having long meals with friends… that sort of normal stuff. I’m quite proud of myself, actually (*pats self on back*), that I don’t spend ALL my weekends on my computer all the time. Still, in between life I have been getting some k-drama watching done. But only the really compelling stuff.

I’ve watched only one new episode of Nice Guy, everyone’s angst-crumpet of the moment. Because there is something else even more compellingly angsty than Nice Guy, calling my name. WHAT? you cry. YEA! I reply. Hard as it may be to believe, there is an even more gripping tale of betrayal and revenge, an even more tightly plotted saga, even more deliciously angst-y heros, even more head-spinning politics, even more psychological drama, even more all-round awesomeness than Nice Guy screaming for my attention. I KNOW, RIGHT? What could be this impossibility of which she speaks?

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So, I’m watching Sandglass, that great k-drama from 1995. I’ve watched eight episodes and I thought I’d write a mid-point review, but I feel so inadequate to the task. What can I possibly say about a classic piece of television? It didn’t just average viewer ratings of 50%; it shaped Korean television and the very consciousness of a nation. I simply do not have the knowledge to do justice to the context and impact of this important work.

If you’ve seen both Sandglass and Eyes of Dawn (MBC, 1991-1992), you’ll know that Sandglass is the younger sibling of the latter. The same team of writer Song Ji Na and Director Kim Jong Hak was responsible for both. (Let’s just ignore the fact that they were also responsible for the recent risible Faith, shall we?)

Both Sandglass and Eyes of Dawn are epic in the true sense of the word; human drama of operatic proportions set in dramatic moments of real history. Both are hard-hitting and unsentimental (even, brutal). Neither is an ‘easy’ watch. Both were ground-breaking in terms of scale, which shows in extraordinary production values (Sets? What sets. That stuff looks like the real thing) and a creative product that transcends criticism. Both are great, unforgettable television, comparable with epic historical cinema from anywhere in the world and bearing scant resemblance to the mindless and carelessly cobbled-together fluff that sometimes passes for historical k-drama nowadays.

[click for some (non-spoilery) thoughts]

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