During the Chosun period, a court lady is found dead, hanging by the rafters of the palace. After examining the dead body, place physician Chun-ryung discovers that the dead maid was ... See full summary »
During the Chosun period, a court lady is found dead, hanging by the rafters of the palace. After examining the dead body, place physician Chun-ryung discovers that the dead maid was probably murdered and carries out investigation even though her higher-ups pressure her to close the case as suicide. Written by
The original term of this movie called "Gungnyeo" refers to women waiting on the king and other royalty in traditional Korean society. A "gungjung yeogwan" is therefor a lady officer in the royal court, serving the royalty. "Shadows In The Palace" portrays the everyday life at the royal court during the time of the Joseon dynasty. The movie has a lot of documentary elements and focuses on the role of women at the court. The women were sworn into secrecy, submission and celibacy and devoted their whole lives to the well-being of the royal family. By showing the negative sides of this society filled with abuse, intrigues, murder, rivalry and treason, this movie is above all an almost documentary criticism of Korean's traditional society. It's also a very dedicated movie about the fate of women during that period, an aspect many historical movies and scientific books remain silent about. The movie convinces with authentic characters, detailed settings and beautiful traditional costumes. It teaches a lot about Korean history and if you're not into this kind of topic, you should simply avoid this movie. You might find it has many lengths if you only want to watch a crime flick.
Underneath these intentions lies a rather complicated story about a murder that is arranged as a suicide and nobody wants to speak about. Despite several menaces and warnings, the royal medic wants to discover the truth and has to suffer a lot before she discovers the main intrigue at the court. The final solution to the murder may not come as a surprise by the end of the film but you still discover a couple of elements about the different characters that add some in depth development to the movie.
It's quite for Western audiences hard to distinguish who's who and who did what and what are the reasons behind this. This epic historical flick contains a lot of different characters that all have diversified intentions and the story is not always easy to follow even if the ending returns to a certain kind of simplicity. That's why it's somewhat hard and for some even frustrating to sit through this movie that requests a lot of attention in my humble opinion. You may only discover some elements at a second sight and this film might request multiple views.
The whole things isn't helped by some fantastic horror elements that begin to appear towards the second half of the film. In my opinion, the flick didn't need these elements and eventually loses a lot of credibility. The strange ghost story simply leads the viewers on a wrong path as they might imagine that a vengeful ghost is the main reason behind the initial murder and the dramatic turn of events that follows. This simply doesn't fit to the quite accurate historical portrait of the movie and must be seen a s a big flaw.
In the end, I liked this movie from a cultural, historical and social point of view. From the point of view of someone that expects a crime movie, this flick is rather complicated but still worth a watch. For those who are looking for supernatural elements or horror influences, this movie is a rather silly deception. The movie simply contains too many unnecessary elements of different genres to be more than just a quite good film. This flick should have been more focused on its two main elements which are the historical portrait and the crime elements or it should have been divided into two full movies with more scenes giving additional informations and the viewers some time to digest the whole thing.
It's up to each one of you to decide if he or she takes the desperately needed time to get into this complex flick.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?