The story of Hymn of Death is well known in Asia, where it has been told countless times. Over the years, dozens of adaptations for radio, TV and film were made to perpetuate this tragic love story – what was left was to show it to new audiences. Then, Netflix acquired the rights to the newest staging of this historical novel and released to all its subscribers. The result is the following: a miniseries of only three chapters, but that is able to thrill at great levels (watch here).
The Korean production shows the impossible love of a writer of a rich family and a rising music star, who must see each other in secret – and face the problems caused by a war that lasted several years in their country. For those who like a good drama, this is a great option: without appealing to melodramatic performances and scripts, it delivers a product easy-to-watch and marathon, but that can still be moving.
A forbidden love
Hymn of Death tells the true story of a young writer, who comes from a traditional conservative family, who one day meets a girl that is beginning to take her first steps into an artistic life, dreaming of becoming a famous soprano. It was love at first sight. Except that the boy is married – in a union arranged by his parents to maintain the familiar traditions. In this way, they must always see each other in secret, and keep their feelings hidden to not be judged by an overly reactionary society.
At the same time, there is the Japanese invasion in Korea – that at that time was still unified. The conflict, which lasted from 1910 to 1945, is portrayed in Hymn of Death with a great technical work, but without large battle scenes. The great highlight is in the art direction, very well built to portray the buildings and houses of that era, and that also does well in reproducing the Korean-Japanese conflict. The photography is also a positive highlight, with memorable scenes (especially one at the edge of the beach, with an all white image that could certainly decorate any house in the form of a painting, because it is very much like one).
It is also necessary to say that the performances are above average for a drama with this type of script. In general, when you have a dramatic story like this, the actors tend to exaggerate in the expressions and when speaking their lines. Here, the main pair – formed by Lee JongSuk and Shin HyeSun – can pass confidence and delicacy without exaggerating the doses. In this way, they are able to convey the urgency of the relationship between them because of all the mishaps they face, as well as the difficulty of establishing themselves in the artistic milieu. It’s really a remarkable work of the duo.
A not too happy ending
As you may have already guessed, Hymn of Death is not a series that makes the viewer end up with a smile on their face. At least, not in the conventional sense. It is a heavy, dense story that has few moments that allow for a smile. Even with all this, it is possible to cling to the main couple, whose encounters are the highlight of this series.
Hymn of Death, therefore, is a good drama that enters into the catalog of Netflix, further increasing the supply of this type of production to the Western public.
And far from just “numbering”, this miniseries has a tremendous value as a dramatic product, capable of wringing tears from the public with its sad and suffered plot, but that leaves a final message: love always wins.
Trailer and additional information about Hymn of Death Netflix
Synopsis: During the Japanese colonial period, married playwright Kim U-jin falls in love with soprano Yun Sim-deok, one of Korea’s notable New Women.
Age rating: 16;
Release year: 2018.
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