Film Review: The Throne

Article By Jazmin Justo

“The Throne” or “Sado” is the recent historical drama film directed by Lee Joon-ik. Known as the “Master of Historical Drama”, Director Lee Joon-ik has gained a reputation for taking the stories of historical figures and reviving them, showcasing their personalities and showing the human drama behind the historical facts. His previous films, “King and the Clown” and “Blades of Blood” were blockbuster hits in Korea, which earned his reputation. It takes research and amazing actors to make these historical events

vivid to the viewer. “The Throne” features rising actor Yoo Ah-in, who recently starred in “Veteran” directed by another famous director Ryoo Seung-wan. At the film festival premiere of “The Throne”, Director Lee Joon-ik helped give out raffle prizes and gave a small introduction to the film. “You may have moments where you are wondering if that really happened, and I assure you that they really did.”

“The Throne” takes place in the Joseon era, based on the true story of the crown prince, Sado, who was sentenced to death by his father, King Yeongjo. In a society where patriarchy is revered, this shocking act between father and son is tragic enough. Despite this, the film dives deep into the conflicts of the royal family and the events that led to the death. The film begins with the young prince Sado, whose father is always disapproving for not studying enough. The father is constantly rejecting Sado’s creative free-spirit which causes Sado to be hateful of himself. The film captures the conflicts of Confucian ideals and social status of power between the King and the court and his multiple wives. At the court Prince Sado is made regent, which allows him to test his leadership qualities. Despite his best intentions to solve regional disputes, his father nullifies his decisions because they may interfere with his legacy. The father’s actions shows his greater concern with his ego rather than helping his son or solving regional matters. At this point, the prince begins to show signs of distress and self-doubt as the king constantly blames the prince for anything that goes wrong in the court room.

The king, who has multiple wives, is constantly bickering with the first wife, who is in charge of disciplining the other wives. When the new concubine is disrespectful to the prince’s wife, there is a heated argument between King Yeongjo and the first wife, which causes him to leave. The first wife commits suicide for the prince to keep his status. However, Prince Sado mourns for his grandmother and undergoes a mental breakdown. This is when the film returns to the tragedy of the execution of the prince, who dies a slow death in a rice box. It is only at this point in the movie that the king and prince are actually able to speak to each other about their inner thoughts.

The film is emotionally intense and is executed well by the actors. Also the film’s historical details of each character, the architecture, and customs of the time period are very accurate, making the film like a looking glass to the time period.

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