Korea never ceases to amaze.
it does not cease to offer incredibly multifaceted and profound narrative universes, fascinating both for their great semantic richness and for a fascinating visual dimension, halfway between classicism and renewal.
All without ever losing sight of the goal of entertaining, of giving emotions and of acting as an absolute reference point in this twenty-first century, which even at the last Oscars has confirmed that very little quality has arrived from the West. But if we are scraping the bottom of a barrel of rhetoric and predictability, then Pachinko – the Korean Wife , available on Apple + , stands as a symbol of this extraordinary cultural season, for a country full of contradictions but also of talent.
An epic halfway between classicism and innovation
Pachinko is made by Soo Hugh , the mastermind behind another pearl like The Terror was . With this series you guide us through a familiar and historical tale, a multi-episode blockbuster that runs from 1915 to the 1980s, through the point of view above all of Sunjia. With her, we also witness the odyssey of her family, called to deal with the upheavals that would have affected that distant country, which in spite of herself ended up still crushed today by multiple interests and clashes between superpowers.
It starts from the early 10s of the twentieth century, with the death of the Belle Époque, when the country was in fact a protectorate crushed by the Japanese boot, to then cross that period that goes from the first postwar period to the second, to an era made of hopes then shipwrecked in the conflict between North and South. Then comes the difficult need to change, in which the protagonist, interpreted in the various phases and moments respectively by Yu-na Jeon, Minha Kim and Youn Yuh-jung, will end up like many others his compatriots having to embrace expatriation. Therefore, the need arises to look for a better future, in that Japan which for so long had sowed terror in its homeland. Pachinko also for the incredible waste of means can only arouse a profound admiration,
Hugh stresses over and over again her connection to the ancient concept of historical Kolossal, such as those that the golden Hollywood used to talk about itself, between colonists’ floats and attacks by bandits and Indians, through the thousand adventures and misadventures of families not different from this one, tossed around in the sea of history.
He does it with grace and at the same time with power, with an incredible respect for the characters but also for the public, succeeding in a perfection dictated by an equilibrium between the different components.
A miracle of elegance and depth
Pachinko is in fact a TV series that seems almost an expanded film, thanks also to the extraordinary workers, above all the photography by Florian Hoffmeister and Ante Cheng who are placed at the service of a direction by Kogonada and Justin Chon of the highest level, which contribute to ennoble the performance of a cast that is almost completely Korean, with the generous exception of Jimmi Simpson .
Extraordinary for its ability to dodge rhetoric, the melodramatic component that would have reigned unchallenged in any Hollywood, the series is a miracle of acrobatics and also of narrative structuring, since there is no precise temporal process.
Flashback and Flashforward cross the mosaic of his tormented soul yet devoid of any sensationalism, able to offer for every single moment and every era, even a different atmosphere, a different way of describing the lives of these ordinary people, to make each of them palpable. emotion.
Over everything and everyone she dominates, Sunjia, with three different interpreters who know how to outline a metamorphosis that is always coherent and perfectly in line with a vision of life and history that certainly would have found a great fan in Nietzsche. In fact, Sunija often undergoes the course of events, basically she has only a momentary and partial control over her life, declined above all as the ability to grasp running trains, while measuring herself against the racism that still characterizes Japan today, where every foreigner, every gaijin, but particularly Koreans, are seen as inferior beings, to be brutalized and humiliated. She continues undeterred to unroll the ball of her memories, showing us however the importance of free will,
Her features change, the world changes, the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, the way men and women talk, get to know each other and compare each other.
A different conception of narrative time
There is something incredibly fascinating in the sensations that the narrative rhythm of this series gives, which are ultimately the sublimation of that Korea that always puts the characters at the center, the possibility of empathizing with their feeling of everyday life, with their dramas and their joys.
To some observer more cinephile than usual, everything can only recall on more than one occasion, certain dramas of the RAI, or certain monumental historical works of our cinema, such as Novecento by Bertolucci or C’eravamo Tanto Amati by Scola. However, here there is no hyperbole, there is no stylistic and semantic exaggeration lost in sleight of hand and a sometimes grotesque and cynical vision. Here, rather, a tact is exhibited, an overall elegance that is made up of an ode to normalization, of avoiding making his characters something more than what we want them to be: human beings.
Someone may perhaps criticize some variations of tone and events compared to the novel from which Soo Hugh drew the inspiration to create the series, but on balance we must always keep in mind that literature and television-cinematographic narration have completely different needs and composition. . The final result is that of a product that also manages to demand something from the viewer without annoying him, if only in the way in which one is forced to keep in mind the various narrative turns, the continuous space-time jumps, thus succeeding in a some sense of embracing a vision of space time different from the western linear ones.
Here, on the other hand, a circular conception dominates, in which everything is connected and connected, in which at times one gets the impression that Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (citing that De Sica masterpiece that can also come to mind in a few moments) are basically part of the same whole, of an identical flow, in which to get lost. It is something that Italian cinema and series, which still insist on being able to speak of family and historical dramas in an excellent way, should take as an example, instead of continuing towards the path of the obvious which they are now prisoners of. Many years.