Saturday, October 31, 2015

White Christmas, or, The Minidrama That Will Wreck You Forever

 Susin High School, nicknamed "Prison High," is an elite school attended by the top 1% of students in the country. Their stellar marks are the result of constant pressure and a strict punishment system, to the point where students avoid from any activities outside of studying. It is in this atmosphere that seven students and a teacher remain at school for the winter break, joined by Kim Yo Han, a psychiatrist who was forced to take shelter with them after he was involved in a car accident nearby. At a time when everyone else is celebrating Christmas Eve, the students realize that the anonymous letters they each received were not the result of a harmless prank; there was a murderer in their midst. A question lies unspoken: Are monsters created, or are humans born monsters?
This is not your average drama. To begin with, it's only eight episodes long - a minidrama special. This is a good thing, because if it were any longer than eight episodes, I probably wouldn't be here today. I would be six feet under the cold, hard ground.
Not only is it a minidrama, but it stars actors before they were considered really 'famous' and it's incredible to watch how good they were even then, and how far they've come.
The setting and cast are small - less than ten main characters to focus on, and so we get plenty of time to get to know them. They are all incredibly complex, and rarely have I seen such attention to detail in any drama, show, or movie. The thing that's mentioned in the first episode is used in episode seven, or the line spoken by someone in episode three comes back to bite them in episode six. The rule of Chekhov's gun (if you see a gun on the wall in the first act, it must be fired by the third) is used to devastating effect.
This is not a fast-paced, happy or lighthearted drama by any stretch of the imagination. Ask anyone who came into contact with me the week after I saw it - I was broken into pieces. Fiction hadn't broken my heart like that since I could remember. It's one of those dramas that makes you think and feel so much that it's hard to process - I couldn't properly talk about it for a few days after I saw it, even though people were asking questions. I had to think about it, long and hard. I had to ponder it and gnaw on it and digest it and cry over it, and in the end, I was astonished at the complexity of it all.
So astonished, in fact, that I knew I hadn't caught everything; and I'm planning a re-watch of it during November. This may seem odd, trying to fit that in with NaNoWriMo, but White Christmas was one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen, as far as my writing was concerned. My writing improved by leaps and bounds after I saw it, and it's one of those dramas that stays with you.
I can joke about it now - and in fact, I have, as evidenced by the batch of text-post edits I made below. But if you ever want to be emotionally destroyed and forced to think about the nature of humanity to insane levels, and if you ever want to watch something that will leave you changed forever, consider watching White Christmas. You'll probably regret it, but you won't be sorry.



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