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"What is destiny...but the choices made"

[Original (Chinese) Article]

I have watched "King and the Clown" four times... and each time my feelings about it are different. I've frequently asked myself: can this magnificent tragedy be avoided? At what point can destiny be changed? What does the director actually want to tell us in his movie?

Throughout its narrative, the movie seems to be emphasizing that everything is led or determined by destiny or fate. Yet, as the story develops and we sink deep into the characters, we discover that it is the characters themselves who are determining the direction they are going. What is so-called "destiny"? Destiny is really the choices made by the characters themselves.

Looking at it from this angle, the theme of the movie is clearly to remind people to know and recognize themselves, and to take charge of the direction in which they want to go in life.

About the characters:

Why does he go to Han-yang (Seoul)? Because he wants to put on the best and biggest show ever. Why does he invite trouble by satirizing the king? Because he wants to make more money.

Why doesn't he leave the palace, after clashing with the court ministers and nearly being chased out? Because Cheo-sun told him that he dares to satirize the king, yet doesn't have the guts to satirize the ministers.

Concerning Gong-gil, he obviously has many doubts and questions. Why doesn't he clearly ask him? Because of feelings that he dares not utter.

Jang-saeng's initial desires were not to be starved or be bullied. When do his ambitions become so grand and numerous? They become big enough to hoodwink him and blind him to what he really wants.

Why does he silently abide by whatever Jang-saeng says? Because he is used to Jang-saeng providing for and protecting him. With Jang-saeng taking care of everything, he does not have to think or worry about anything.

Why doesn't he leave when Jang-saeng wants to leave the palace? Because he is unable to let go of Yeon-san. For the first time, he feels intensively needed and able to protect others, as he has always been protected.

Underlying those acquiescing footsteps is his deep attachment to Jang-saeng. Holding him back is a king's tear. Innocent as he is, Gong-gil's eyes hold affection for his Jang-saeng and only sympathy for the king.

Why does he lose control when he is with Gong-gil? Because of the Oedipal complex he feels for his mother through Gong-gil.

Why doesn't he let Gong-gil go when the young man wants to leave the palace? Because he is the king and nothing is unobtainable for him.

Yet, even with absolute power, he still cannot gain the one thing which he is doomed never to have - maternal love, warmth, freedom.

Other than power, Yeon-san has nothing in this world.

Why does she want Gong-gil dead? Because she thinks Gong-gil is out to seize the king from her.

This is a woman who has crawled from the gloomiest corner to where she is today, experiencing pains that only she knows. Thus, her jealousy knows no bounds, even if it causes her to self-immolate.

Every one of them has been hoodwinked. Desire, ambition, money, love, power, jealousy has clouded their eyes. Unable to see what they really want, blind as to what they can hold onto until tragedy strikes - until Jang-saeng is blinded and Gong-gil attempts suicide. Only then do they clearly see themselves and others.

Jang-saeng says, "If this is the taste of being blinded, I should have been blinded a long time ago." Only when he is blinded does he realize that all he ever wanted was to be together and to live a simple life with Gong-gil.

When Jang-saeng is blinded, Gong-gil finally understands that the one person he cannot live without is Jang-saeng. It is not the king and never was.

When Gong-gil attempts suicide, the king realizes how important Jang-saeng is to Gong-gil. No matter how much power one has, that power cannot hold back another person's heart. Gong-gil is not his mother and has never belonged to him. The only one who is still willing to stay by his side is Nok-soo.

When Gong-gil attempts suicide, Nok-soo realizes that Gong-gil never thought of taking the king away from her. All he ever really wants is to be with Jang-saeng - to live together, or to die together. Her envy is totally unfounded.

Every one of them has experienced sorrow and joy, and in the end recognizes themselves and their needs. At the end of the movie, Jang-saeng and Gong-gil make a pact to be together in their next lives, while Yeon-san and Nok-soo are by each other's side until the end. They have grasped happiness that they can have and be had in their own ways. That, in my opinion, is a happy ending.

As Jang-saeng and Gong-gil leap high into the infinitely hopeful blue sky, this thought-provoking tragicomedy finally comes to an end.

Looking at this movie makes one ponder about one's own life.

The characters in the movie were at first confused, faced with life's temptations through all sorts of desires only to lose what they had but had never held dear.

Only when you recognize who you are, can you take charge of what direction you want to go in life.

So, as a movie viewer, do I know myself? Know what I truly want? In my life's journey, have I deceived myself? Blinded myself to my true future direction? What elements are important? What can be given up?

Life is a one-way ticket that has no return. Like a play without dress rehearsal, it cannot be enacted again. So, how can one perform to make it perfect?

"King and the Clown" is a movie that leaves a lot to ponder - about myself and about what I seek in life.

- Translated by KatC Team (November 30, 2006)
[Original Link : http://www.wang-ui-namja.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31]

Original (Chinese) Article

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