Sunday, September 09, 2007

New addiction

My younger son gave me one of those portable DVD players for Christmas last year. (It came with a special DVD he had made with photos from the baptism of the newest grandchild.) For several months all I used it for was to watch that one DVD, but then I learned that the library loans out not just books, but DVDs. I broke down and applied for a library card, an item I've not had since junior high school.

My first forray into the stacks brought some old movies I had been meaning to see, but never had. Next, a few romantic comedies, a couple of classics I'd seen before but not in a long time, until I'd exhausted the supply of anything I felt was worth watching.

Then, I turned to foreign films with English subtitles. These have never really appealed to me although I've seen a few that have been terrific. I prefer to watch the action, not the dialog. However, lately when we watch movies together as a family, the deaf among us (quite a few) need subtitles even when the actors are speaking English, and I've learned to watch both without much distraction.

I found the Asian films the most beautiful, subtle, with simple, but profound plot lines. Last week I picked up what I thought was a Korean film and checked it out. When the time came to watch it I noticed the label said 900 minutes... Woah, that's a long movie! I opened the case and found three DVDs, each with three episodes of what I could only suppose was a Korean soap opera. I had every intention of returning it to the library unwatched, but one night I couldn't sleep. How long could one episode be?

Titled "Stained Glass" it's a story of three childhood friends (two boys and a girl) who make a pact to be the "Three Muskateers" and the two boys vow to always protect the little girl... as long as they live. One boy is swept away by the river's strong current when he's trying to retrieve the girl's lost ocarina, and his body is never found. He's presumed dead.

This was the background teaser in the opening episode, with just enough hints that when the story resumed (twelve years later) the three would somehow meet again. I was hooked.

The only soap opera I ever watched regularly was Dark Shadows. Once I was home sick in bed and watched an episode of General Hospital. Six months later I happened to see it again, and hardly anything had happened in between. Soap operas move too slowly for me to stay involved; I have no patience.

However, there's something surreal and compelling about watching a story set within a culture so alien to me. The social rules, the idioms that don't quite translate, the beauty of the actors... all work together to create an environment I don't understand, but am still fascinated by. I watched all nine in the series but the story didn't end. I was bereft.

Whatever was going to happen to gorgeous Han Dong Joo and lovely Shin Ji Soo, so clearly in love with each other... but also compassionate friends to the troubled (but also sexy) Park Gi Tai, who also loves Shin Ji Soo? I may never know. The library thinks it may have another nine episodes somewhere, but it's checked out right now. Someone else is watching the incredibly beautiful soulfull eyes of the actors as they sigh and look up to heaven and talk to themselves (but never each other) about their deepest dreams and longings. I am so definitely hooked.


Anonymous said...

"I broke down and applied for a library card, an item I've not had since junior high school."

Tsk! Says the librarian! :-p

Anonymous said...

Catch some movies from India if you get a chance. You'll be watching the movie then all of a sudden it turns into a music video. The actor just bursts into a song-interesting.

dhardison said...

Found "Stained Glass" at Netflix as a 6-disc series (18 episodes). It is described as a 2004 Korean television miniseries.

Claire Joy said...

natty... what can I say? I'm a sinner who hates the idea of having to renew a book I haven't finished reading. (I used to just buy them.)

anon... I've seen some of those Indian flicks. I steer clear.

dan... thank goodness it's a miniseries. That means it will actually have a conclusion. Yay!!!! The library just emailed me they are holding the last nine episodes for me until September 24th. I'll pick them up when I return from rest time.