Hello everybody, Global Times are doing some investigations on Chinese costume historical drama, If you want share your opinions with others on the newspaper, would you mind to spend some time answering these questions? We will have futuer interview with you and you can share your opinions with other Chinese costume historical drama lovers on global times !
Do you like Chinese historical drama ?
How do you get started?
What are the key elements of Chinese historical drama in your eyes?
How is this type of tv drama different from the one in your country?
How did you have access to Chinese version tv /novel?
Do you think it is a costume dramas are becoming the latest cultural export product? (Hollywood is going to make an American tv series featuring Wu zetian/ Empresses in the Palace、宫廷の女诤い（日本富士）、옹정 황제의 여자（韩国）)
Ok I’m back to answer this. ) and you asked…so here it is.
Do I like Chinese Historical Drama?
The short answer is Yes, absolutely.
The long answer? I like all three major types of Asian historical drama - Chinese, Japanese and Korean. I actively watch all three. Matter of fact, I enjoy world-wide historical and costume drama, I’m not a real fan of the modern world. Chinese historical drama has a lot of territory to cover, it encompasses both fact and speculation, the advantages of a long written history do come into play when you present the past in the modern world in a way that makes it new and interesting to the world at large. Take a recent drama, “Chang Ge Xing”. Essentially a romanticized story about the Eastern Han restoration of the Han Empire and the enduring love between the Emperor and his true love, who clearly helped him in his efforts of going from a farmer’s life to Emperor. Watching this extremely well done drama with Yuan Hong and Lin Ruby in it inspired me to also read up on the actual lives of the Emperor and his world, so it broadened my knowledge of the second part of the Han Dynasty. It was very well presented, so it was highly entertaining to watch and memorable. It brought another part of Chinese history to the world in a way that could be understood and enjoyed, courtesy of translation and particularly volunteer work here at Viki. It’s just one of many historical dramas and dramas based on modern and ancient literary works that have increased my knowledge of Chinese history and along with the growing quality of the acting and other features, made it really some of the world’s best dramas.
One fictional drama, based on an existing empire, is in my opinion the world’s best drama. Nirvana in Fire is based on an existing time and warring state set up, but fictional in its premise. Still, it did make me go look up the information and again, increase my understanding of the nature of China at that time. The qualify of acting, the production, script, the editing, the way that this drama has been completely polished makes it unique in the world. I still see new things every time I watch it, and I continue to view it …I’ve seen it completely 10 times now.
So yes, I really do like Chinese historical dramas.
How did I get started? My Chinese drama interest came from my interest over 2 decades ago in Toshiro Mifune/Akira Kurosawa films (Japanese)…then through Jewel in the Palace (Korean) - my first Asian drama over 10 years ago, and then finally taking the step of watching Chinese drama. Part of the difficulty in finding and viewing Asian drama as an American without Asian language skills (I am correcting that now over time…!) is that very few programs were presented, very little access - I got Jewel in the Palace by accident, on a channel my cable provider gave me and then took away! Only after I started using the Internet sources in the last 5 years did I find consistent and reasonable access to Asian drama. The more Chinese drama I’ve been able to access, the more I’ve watched. Today folks have it much easier, there’s far more dramas available and the English in particular is more available by subtitle. It’s been harder to be a Chinese drama fan because of the difficulty when watching raw episodes, if no English is provided.
Ah…key elements. (deep breath).
a. Amazing acting. There are some actors who have this genre down to a point of superior acting. Hu Ge, Yuan Hong, Huo Wallace, LIn Ruby, Liu Shi Shi, Lu Yi (his performance in Three Kingdoms was superb!) and many others make it believable, bring history or even “faction” to life for us. It’s more difficult to make a historical drama work. Bad acting can destroy a drama faster than anything else!
b. If the history is going to be followed closely, give me that information up front - some Korean dramas now tell you at the start whether this is going to follow history or some deviation, to avoid confusion. I think it’s a good practice. Give me enough information around the drama to also look it up, to know what’s going on. If you can film it ON location where the event happened…wow. It gets even better. Stay WITH the idea of the drama…do not do what happened with Zhao Yun please…that was the only really bad historical drama I can easily think of. It turned into “ZY’s Dysfunctional Girlfriend” for 50 episodes, then the Ma Chao story at the end).
c. Amazing filming and production quality. Make me feel like I was there. ) Keep the CGI to a minimum.
d. Attention to detail. An example would be well, if you’re filming Qing, the opulence of the time - the costumes, the attendants, all of the details present. Let us see it as it was. Conversely - don’t pretty up a rougher time. I like what “Three Kingdoms” did - a burned out palace, the reality of decisions made. Try also not to make “heroes” out of truly bad rulers…sigh. It’s ok to give us a nice looking actor in the role, if it will help us watch the drama - but perhaps show us at the end, the actual portrait to keep the story straight. One Japanese historical I am watching at present actually has a travelogue at the end of every episode, showing exactly where it is NOW - and things you can visit. I think that also helps link the modern with the past.
Differences from tv drama in USA. Wow.
a. Quality. Sad to say, but Hollywood has slipped over the past 20 years. They remake (badly) things that have already been done. Chinese drama quality has improved so dramatically that they are showing the way there.
b. Most series in C drama have a finite number of episodes. American tv seems to ride a horse until it drops, then drag it forward longer. Example here is “Lost”…which got utterly lost. No plot that made sense, etc. Acting, writing, all failing. A few series could endure - “Monk” due to the main actor’s amazing talent and writing that didn’t really lose their grip until after around 15 seasons - those are some exceptions. The majority of American tv dramas are poorly written, rushed to market, and sadly aimed at a lower level of writing that leaves me uninterested. Asian historical drama as a whole is a far better product, and it makes me want to see more of it. Engaging and stimulating to the brain as well as the eyes and ears.
c. Acting. Yes, I’m going to say it. Right now USA has an acting problem. China, Korea, and Japan all have much better actors and actresses. Say you have a bad set, or very little money. Well, with great acting and other production assets like good script and direction, you can still bring us an amazing drama. Several of my favorite actors all time are now Chinese!
d. This will sound different - but Asian drama appeals to both men and women. There really IS something for everybody - martial arts, wars, romances, all in the same drama usually. Good comedy.
Now - I have almost no novel access - few of the novels are in English - but I have access to the following for dramas:
Net streaming sites like Viki.
Until this year, I also had Hulu and Netflix for Asian drama…but they gutted their collections
Roku - has several channels, free, including a no English but highly interesting “Mandarin Tv”.
DVD. Yes, I bought dvd’s of some of my favorites…if they’re available. Sadly,the one I want most has no English subtitle version, Nirvana in Fire! Ouch!
Oh boy. Well…Empresses in the Palace, if it is the current 6 episode drama isn’t about Wu Zetian/Wu Meniang, to begin with. So I can only hope that isn’t going to happen.
IF we’re talking about a remake of Empress of China - or Female Chinese Emperor…I can’t say I’m an optimist about Hollywood doing this well. I can only hope they won’t cast Natalie Portman…or Brad Pitt. Sorry, but they don’t tend to follow any sense of reality. Oliver Stone syndrome, I like to call it. They ruined the Alexander the Great story, I don’t think Chinese historical drama will do well there. After all, they’ve decide to remake The Magnificent Seven and Ben Hur recently…proof they have no new ideas, and they can’t give me a reason to see either of those. Personally I wish they could do Chinese historical, and for that matter, world wide historical well, but the evidence is against this.
As for the cultural export product, sure. But as I said above, the drama I most want DVD’s for cannot be bought currently. As the demand increases for Chinese drama abroad, the growth will be curtailed by limited access and limited availability. That being said, the recent improvements in both have made me decidedly a Chinese historical drama fan, along with the other major Asian cultures. Give me great dramas, and I will find a way to watch and enjoy them.
Crouching Dieter, Hidden Donut
Denver, Colorado, USA
Thank you! When you have time, could you please answer then as soon as possible? Because we are writing the report. After the report published, I will send the link to you and you can see your views on global times! Thank you again!
@1114685418_139 Do you have a name???
Is this Yun Li, or are you an other writer, last year she wrote about Nirvana in Fire, Im sharing the link of the write up http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/950351.shtml
As you know NIF was and is still globally very successful, and before this show, Chinese historical dramas have been streamed since years ago, they are of high quality and enjoy large amount of viewership. Lately, we have seen trending sci-fy / fantasy dramas with elaborate costumes and creative production like Ice Fantasy and Novoland.
my first show was Prince of Llangling (?) or Perfect Couple.
I like historical dramas and watch Koreans regularly and so I wanted give a Chinese drama a try as well.
When watching historical dramas I also lookup for more historical facts online; history is interesting and is a part of today’s life. Elements are Costumes, Script, Actors, Cinematography (showing also parts of the country) and not long series (episodes).
I cancelled my TV cable long time ago, was tired of the commercials and poor shows, could watch some shows online if I wanted.- Some western shows are just bland and “pretend alike” where depth thoughts are missing.
When watching hist. dramas, I’m trying also to imagine how people’s life and thinking was then, and what is different from thinking in today’s modern world (not much has changed within the greed for power and staging situations to instigate actions). At last, I can learn some Chinese words while watching.
Online various streaming channels, mostly on Viki.
Yes, absolutely, I think it is becoming a trend, not only historical dramas, also some modern dramas have high quality (cinematographic / script wise for example Decoded.) Thanks to Viki online video streaming globally not only in the Americas, more people have access to such period dramas and fell in love with their stories and actors - The Asian wave is happening.
I look forward to see on Viki more Chinese historical dramas!
Thank you! Just now I read it carefully and I enjoy your answer so much! You described it so vividly and sometimes I can not help laughing. My name is Wen Zhuxin, and My English name is Mary. We can make friends! If you use Wechat, you can add me. Could I have your full name? Thank you !
How do you get started? Funny enough I was watching Empress Ki (Korean) and then came across Youtube videos for ‘Empress of China’, and since then on Viki, I have watched ‘Scarlet Heart’ and ‘Chronicle of Life’ but also branched into other chinese speaking dramas from Taiwan.I enjoy them for the storyline and romance but when you watch them with the family then you get your parents making a running commentary correcting the drama’s historical inaccuracies and mistakes!
What are the key elements of Chinese historical drama in your eyes? ha ha - long series they all seem to be at least 50+ episodes (far too long when it hits 80 episodes that’s when I don’t like Chinese historical drama), very few happy endings (needs health warning to buy at least 2 boxes of tissues before you start your binge watching), and complicated / family / clan political storylines, always backstories / flashbacks, full of literary references, and some martial art / fight scenes, great OSTs or opening theme song.
How is this type of tv drama different from the one in your country? The British are good with storylines e.g. BBC Downtown Abbey, Sherlock, Versailles etc so the quality of writing and production are good but what we get are 12 episodes in one series so abit like the US with their series structure which makes viewing easier than say one drama with 60 or 80 episodes. But apart from the length I think the quality and production are good compared to Chinese historical drama. In terms of scale, Chinese historical drama is starting to have alot more money poured into it so you can see the amazing locations, the costume designs (‘Empress of China’ was a massive fashion show - beautiful) so alot more glossier and bigger than British drama. However, I feel the British actors and actresses are sometimes better or more versatile in their acting because they see acting as a single professional career. They don’t have the same cultural fan base of Asian and American film industries where you can cross between being a model / idol / pop star/ actor. Whether this will continue who knows as we are increasing living in a global world and social media following is going to be more important in choosing which actor / actresses will star in the drama especially with the younger generation of actors coming through now. American historical dramas such as ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Reign’ are also very good and entertaining as well so I think historical dramas when done well are great to watch regardless of the country.
How did you have access to Chinese version tv /novel? Through Youtube, Viki.
Do you think it is a costume dramas are becoming the latest cultural export product? (Hollywood is going to make an American tv series featuring Wu zetian/ Empresses in the Palace、宫廷の女诤い（日本富士）、옹정 황제의 여자（韩国）) - I really hope not. I got so used to watching Chinese historical drama with subtitles that having the characters speaking English in historical drama feels so weird to me especially the Director can’t decide whether the asian actors should speak English with Asian accents or with in their own American accents. Does this mean commercially we will see Oscars for a chinese historical drama in the Best Film category instead of Best Foreign Film category. I find it works better if they take the storyline and translate it into Hollywood version e.g. Hong Kong’s ‘Infernal Affairs’ into Hollywood ‘The Departed’. I can watch both of these quite happily but couldn’t watch more than 5 mins of ‘Marco Polo’ on Amazon.
Do you like Chinese historical drama ? I like historical stories be it movies,shows or books, one reason is I am a genealogist. and watching the history roll before my eyes is facinating, course I know some has been added, just finished watching Scarlet Heart: Ryeo that one the girl goes back into time)and read with a dictionary! so cool to see this Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
How do you get started? just watch if thats what you mean, if it is historical I do keep that wiki dictionary handy to check out the characters, like that King that killed all his brothers, wiki said differently
What are the key elements of Chinese historical drama in your eyes? the actors & actresses that play the characters. that guy that played the lead, was fantastic in my eyes, and the young lady too. and close to the authintic story from back then, course I do know there is a lot missing too.
How is this type of tv drama different from the one in your country? I haven’t seen very many here in the usa, england has some, but they dont rate with these dramas, I could name a bunch from America and England, but I won’t at this time.
How did you have access to Chinese version tv /novel? Viki, Drama fever ,Netflix, Hulu
Do you think it is a costume dramas are becoming the latest cultural export product? (Hollywood is going to make an American tv series featuring Wu zetian/ Empresses in the Palace、宫廷の女诤い（日本富士）、옹정 황제의 여자（韩国）)well I must see if it is any good then. my thing is the costumes themselves, they are amazing, the craft of making them, the colors, and how did they dye them, how did they sew them, by hand?? sure, the embroidery is fantastic , and its one I am not able to do!! those robes, wow! there was a lot of research done to get those costumes right, and the colors right for these dramas is all I can say. whoever did it a job well done in my book.