"The Last Princess" is both a drama and an action film that is based upon the life of Princess Deok-hye (1912-1989) who was born into Korea's last royal family in 1912 as the youngest and ...
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"The Last Princess" is both a drama and an action film that is based upon the life of Princess Deok-hye (1912-1989) who was born into Korea's last royal family in 1912 as the youngest and only daughter of the last King of Jo-seon, ex-Emperor Gojong and his concubine Yang Gui-in. In truth, her sad and tragic life was shaped at the highest levels of the Japanese Imperial family and its government, and carried out by their Korean collaborators - a path that led to Japanese political ends at the expense of her personal happiness. Two years before her birth, the Japanese Imperial Army surrounded Gwang-bok-gong Palace with artillery batteries with orders to shoot while Japanese officials inside the Palace coerced Emperor Su-jong's (King Go-jong's son) cabinet to approve Korea's annexation to the Japan Empire. After her beloved father suddenly died from poisoning in 1919 - allegedly by the occupying Japanese - the Japanese forced Princess Deokye to leave Korea and her family for an education...Written by
Dr. Andrew HN Kim, USMA '72
The story that sets in the 1961, but most of the film was a flashback narration that takes us to the 30 years earlier, in the 30s. This is a biographical film of the last Korean princess to be crowned. Though the film clearly briefs her power struggle over the foreign power. The entire tale was told from her perspective as she saw everything. So, it was real, but historical facts were compromised in places with additional characters or events that more cinematised. That's what the film declared at the opening. To be honest, any biopic would be the same. You can't expect a perfect, a flawless portrayal of a person or the event. Since films are just a recreation to spread the truth, whether they are good, bad or nothing important.
There are lots of Japanese dialogue as the story required it. I have seen other Korean historical films, especially about freedom fight. In this too, you could see that phase of the history, but in a different angle. The 2 hour long film, most of it was drama, but there are some action sequences too. A little love story, but overwhelmed by the princess' own struggle throughout her adult life. Probably one of most misunderstood person for her actions by her own people. Because they have seen only from their own eyes, not the truth, what their princess had gone through. Sooner or later, the truth always comes out, and that's where the narration draws its curtain.
While the Korean is being under the rule of Japan, the 13 year old princess, Deokhye witnesses her father's assassination for his objection over some matter brought by the Japanese officials. Now the grownup princess was forced to go to Japan for her higher studies. But she pledges to return home to her mother and people. That's not what happens, she sees many Koreans trapped in there as the slave workers. Her fight for their freedom becomes her next target, though things take twists and turns, leaving her in the tight spot. The remaining story is to reveal her rest of the life after a long struggle.
❝Never give up until the end. Spring will come again to fields stolen from us.❞
Usually a good Korean film will be recognised well in the international stage. Especially for like this, having a wonderful cast and crew, I did not expect the under-notice. As I have seen it, definitely the film deserves more appreciation. Well, I did not like the film either in the beginning. I thought it was too slow, too long and the events were uninteresting. But the real value of the film came in the later part. Yes, the narration picked up the speed with all the sudden developments. Basically what we would call such film is: a slow start, but concluded strongly. So you have to wait till the end to come to any judgement.
One thing I did not mention so far was the emotions. If I'm saying I liked it, that's mainly because of the sentiments. I did not anticipate that, it was like came from nowhere. As I always say, emotions are a big part of Korean films. In that, sometimes I hated for overusing it, though not in this case. Usually a film inspired by real do have such things strongly. The film did not cover any war events, except orally declaring the details for the viewers to get everything happening around.
Son Ye-jin is the most familiar face from the Korean films and as usual her execution was amazing in this. She was the right choice to play the title role, along with the director that seems he's back in the action with this like his earlier films. Its nothing lesser than any kings and queens films you had seen from the west. Since it was about a princess, her movements were strictly restricted within the walls. Which was one the reason she had nothing big to accomplish than being a puppet, except when she stepped into the Japan. Her Japan visit changed her approach, despite it was done against her will. So there are many things about the princess that you could learn through this film. Definitely a must see if you like biopics and history.
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