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About storyofthestone

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  1. Haha, yes, it is a reference to A Dream of the Red Chamber. I read an English translation with the most gorgeous color illustrations when I was 11 and then watched the show from the 1980s. Probably the first drama I was ever emotionally invested in... I don't think I should have been watching and reading stuff like that at that age though. Too much sadness. I absolutely love what you wrote re: NY and his complete lack of reference for healthy relationships. After finally finishing the show I feel so conflicted about the trajectory of his characterization. On one hand, someone like him has the cards stacked against him in terms of building healthy relationships and knowing how to be a good friend and partner. It was going to be an uphill battle from the beginning to learn how to be a person who knows how to trust and to express his emotions in a healthy manner. I think he equated love with the ability to protect and that warped into possessiveness when he gains omnipotent power as emperor. On the other hand, I really hated that in the last part of the show, the writers kept trying to draw a parallel between NY and his horrible father, as if it was inevitable and predestined that he would turn out the exact same way. But Ning Shizheng and Yale's relationship was never analogous to NY and ZW's relationship. Yale was always an object of abuse and a prisoner in that whole deal. I felt like the writers wanted us the audience to empathize with the emperor's horrific actions. The writers seemed to want the audience to take it for granted that NY was going to become terrible in the same way that his dad was and so kept making him act in ways that would reinforce this idea. NY may have been a calculating, stone-cold schemer, but ultimately when it came to ZW, he wanted her to stay alive and be happy, even if it meant letting her go. So I resented that they were trying to set up NY as inevitably turning into his father, this selfish, heartless, possessive, paranoid patriarch who thinks he knows best for everyone. They are similar in some ways, but the way they wrote the predestined nature of NY's fate really bothered my optimistic American soul... The emperor kept insisting that he and Yale were the same as NY and ZW and nobody ever calls him on that richard simmons. And then NY even kind of tacitly forgave his dad in the end, even though dad kept mom in solitary confinement for 18 years, which is literally psychological torture. We as the audience can see the episodes and episodes worth of evidence that NY and ZW are not like the emperor and Yale, but I didn't have confidence that the writers were on the same page as us. It felt like they were trying to make NY selfish and possessive in the last part of the show so as to justify the ending/force that parallel between father and son. NY went through so much struggle and character development. He had his own kind of idealism and in the end will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes of his dad? Were they implying that he'll also end up with a bunch of sons who will kill each other to succeed him? Like when he told XZY that he would never treat his sons like his dad, was that supposed to be foreshadowing that he actually would end up doing the same? I think, for me, that horrible bed scene was the pivotal scene that made me realize what the writers' intentions were. As the story progressed, ZW became more and more sure (a faith that was sorely tested) that NY would never do anything to hurt her. And then there he was, physically shoving her onto the bed in that scene and also demanding that she be empress. He basically held the safety of the Dacheng subjects hostage in order to get her to agree to be empress. When that would mean she NEVER gets reincarnated. Did he forget about her oath? He can't have all her lifetimes if she marries him in that one. I think that's one of the signs that the writers intended for him to turn into a person who she ultimately couldn't trust to prioritize her wellbeing. Instead of letting her be free to make her own decisions, he was so desperate to have her that he would basically imprison her in his palace and sacrifice her future lives, just like his dad did to Yale.
  2. Hi altamarea! I had a great time in Italy! It was actually my second time this year. Did not go to San Marino; only Rome, Venice, Ravenna, and Orvieto. I love that the fans of this show are so international, by the way. It makes the discussions incredibly interesting, having so many different cultural perspectives.
  3. RITUAL ETIQUETTE VIDEO HERE! All of the behind the scenes videos for The Rise of Phoenixes are incredible but the one on ritual etiquette and bowing is my favorite, which I just watched. It underscored just how careful the showrunners were in constructing a complete world with its own internal logic (at least in the beginning…) The etiquette master talks extensively about how movement and physicality is inextricable from culture and how they’ve used these ritual movements to create fuller characters who are more authentically of their time and culture (even if in this case, the culture is a fictional one inspired by imperial China). This is the kind of attention to detail that makes this show immersive as hell. The best BEST BEEEESSST part is from 7:07-9:10 in which the etiquette master discusses the scene where Feng Zhiwei goes back to her old home with Gu Nanyi to see her mother for the first time since beginning her cross-dressing political adventures. Zhiwei has been disguised as a man, kicking richard simmons and taking names at court for a time by that point, but when she sees her mother after so long, she greets her with a woman’s bow. It’s her mom and Zhiwei’s been hiding from everyone but she doesn’t have to hide in front of her mother. And of course we know how that scene ends, with Zhiwei’s mother pushing her to give up her position so that her identity won’t be discovered, with Zhiwei refusing and finally, defiantly, bowing goodbye as a man. For a character who’s never fully able to be herself, who’s always slipping in between worlds and never quite fitting completely, this was such a heartbreaking moment of realization. She can’t go back to who she was and where she came from but neither can she give up even though it will inevitably cause her… just too much pain.
  4. I'm on vacation in Italy right now so have had no time just yet to respond to everyone's interesting posts but I've been silently following along! I did want to say one thing- I am in Ravenna today and started thinking about Zhiwei and Ning Yi while staring at the incredible Byzantine mosaics at the Basilica of San Vitale. That sound like crazy fangirl behavior? Probably. Let me explain. The basilica was built by the emperor Justinian and his empress Theodora in 547. Justinian and Theodora's relationship was a real life grand romance and a true meeting of the minds and collaboration of intellectual equals. She was a courtesan whose father was a bear trainer; he came from a farming family whose path to the throne was unexpected indeed. To marry her, Justinian had his uncle the emperor Justin change the law forbidding government officials from marrying actresses. Justinian immediately made her co-regent upon becoming emperor, giving her equal power and authority. They worked together closely in all things and were the perfect political tagteam. Their gorgeous mosaic portraits in San Vitale (of equal size and fineness) have faced each other for almost 1500 years - how romantic! This excellent blog post goes into more detail about their backgrounds and some highlights (and also a rather illuminating low point) of their reign: https://nefchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/theodora-justinian-reign-of-equals/amp/ Zhiwei was not a courtesan in the drama and Ning Yi was not a farmer. But they found each other under unexpected circumstances, first getting to know each other disguised as a silly girl pretending to be a House of Lanxiang courtesan and a humble little tailor. They gained unexpected power through wit, strategy, and trust in each other. If only the ending could have been different for Zhiwei, could their relationship have blossomed into a beautiful partnership like Justinian and Theodora? I like to imagine it.
  5. No upside down crying, just a lot of face mopping. Really well put re: Ning Yi and Zhu Yin's platonic friendship. Just finished 63 and I am all out of emotional reserves. I must be a masochist. My eyelids are raw and my chest hurts. I am going to Italy in a couple days and I am not going to watch the rest until I get home so this show doesn't ruin my vacation. It still kinda might. All I want to do is talk about this show. Apologies if I am incoherent or way too intense, I literally just finished five minutes ago. Ning Yi telling Zhi Wei they had missed their chance to be together? And when he was talking to Jin Siyu (hated that dude so much) while drugged he said that he was rescuing Zhiwei out of guilt. GUILT. Not love? It just doesn't sound like him. The two of them have both lost so much faith in each other. I miss their nose nuzzling and even their wrist biting days. I was so confused by the whole memory loss thing. Can a kind soul explain what that was all about? Did she stop taking the medicine spiked with the azalea powder and instead take something else that Ning Yi concocted from Nanyi's medical manual to keep Jin Siyu from getting suspicious? Why not just pretend she was under the influence? Why was it necessary for the story that she actually be drugged? That terrible terrible scene when she told Ning Yi he was a bad man and then remembered all those bits and pieces from their beautiful times together while NOSE NUZZLING and crying in the arms of Jin Siyu!?? It made me feel a little nauseous. It felt like such a violation of Zhiwei. Such intimate words and actions pulled out of her in front of this gross rapey villain. When she started weeping with joy because she thought she had married the one she loved, I wanted to throw my computer across the room. I didn't even really enjoy their underwater kiss. It felt unearned at that point. I do not like how much agency Zhiwei has lost since she was revealed to be a woman. The Minhai arc was truly glorious for shippy reasons but Zhiwei basically did very little pertaining to her actual job. I get that this is probably due to the censorship edits. It's infuriating that so much time, artistry, and money was clearly put into making this show and it had to be butchered just so it could air.
  6. I just watched episode 58 and I don't understand why Zhiwei seemed to accuse Ning Yi of abandoning her in her worst moments. I mean, he tried... Did she not know that he basically threatened his father with a revolt to try to get them out of there alive, thereby putting himself on the emperor's no-longer-to-be-trusted list? Also, what was she hoping he would say to her? Did she suspect that Ning Yi was sent there to carry out orders for the emperor and was hoping he would tell her of his plans? So that she could be prepared to act instead of be at the mercy of the emperor again? Or was she hoping for something more personal? Am I just expecting too much logic from the scriptwriters who wrote this angry grieving lashing out Zhiwei? This is all overwhelmingly frustrating and painful to watch. Seeing her clutch that hair ornament, jfc...
  7. Ok yikes, guys- I had to make an account here to discuss this show because no one I know has seen this and I am pretty sure no one I know will want to watch 70 episodes. This is the first Asian drama I've watched as an adult. I grew up watching Chinese dramas with my parents but basically have only watched television produced in the West for the past fifteen years. But I saw this on Netflix and was intrigued by how beautiful and textured it looked. Slightly ashamed to admit that I'm on episode 48 (after 5 days of binge watching and being incredibly sleep deprived) and am honestly kind of terrified to watch any further. I completely spoiled myself reading comments and watching the behind the scenes clips, so even during the utterly sweet scenes of open affection between Ning Yi and Zhi Wei, a dark cloud hangs over it all. I'm already emotionally exhausted- and I haven't even gotten to the rupture between Ning Yi and Zhi Wei. But damn, after Zhi Wei was imprisoned and that scene with her mom bringing her food... I literally ugly-cried my eyebrow makeup off. And the argument between Xin Ziyan and Ning Yi right before he goes to Minhai about with ZiYan interrogating the prince about his commitment to his dreams of empire- such a tour-de-force scene. I cried then too. Now, like Pavlov's dog, I can't help but tear up when I hear any of the music from the show. Loved Zhu Yin's character so much and hated that she was killed off. Her big sister relationship with Zhi Wei. Her comrade in arms kind of bond with Ning Yi. These characters and their relationships with each other are so rich and layered and I am so invested in everyone, including the villains. Like when consort Chang went to the emperor to plead for the life of her kids and how grateful she was that she would be buried in the royal tombs. Damn, cue more waterworks. HOW IS EVERYONE IN THIS SHOW SO GOOD AT ACTING. And the characterization of the princess Shaoning was so finely done and really complicated the trope of the bratty princess. I loved when she was discussing with Zhi Wei how royal children were forced to fight for the love of their father, never taking it for granted as commoners do, showing how delusional and pitiful she is in some ways yet unflinchingly honest in others, how insular, lonely, and dangerous her world is (and by extension, Ning Yi's world and all the princes). These royal children may gain allies and political backers, but can they have true friends? True family other than their mothers? And the way she told that story about how the crown prince killed someone's cat to make her feel better about her pet bird dying- she really believed it to be a purely heartwarming story about his undeniable worth. Just a revealing and twisted moment of characterization there- here's someone who lacks so much empathy and is so self-involved yet holds her affection for her older brother so deeply. So many amazing moments to turn over in one's head.
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