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The Throne ("Sado")

Quebec Premiere
  • South Korea
  • 2015
  • 125 mins
  • DCP
  • Korean
  • English (subtitles)
Winner: Best Actor (Yoo Ah-in), Best Supporting Actress (Jeon Hye-jin), Best Cinematography, Best Lighting, Best Music, Best Technical, Blue Dragon Film Awards 2015
Winner: Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Music, Korean Association of Film Critics Awards 2015
Winner: Best Supporting Actress (Kim Hae-suk), Daejong Film Awards 2015
Winner: Grand Prize, PaekSang Arts Award 2016
Official Selection: Hawaii International Film Festival 2015, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2015

"Offers lavish production values and an acting master class from its stellar cast." – Clarence Tsui, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

"An outstandingly crafted period drama" – Justin Chang, VARIETY

The Throne from Festival Fantasia on Vimeo.

It is the year 1762, during the Joseon era, and King Yeongjo (Song Kang-ho) is in the 35th year of his reign, which functions according to strict Confucian discipline. One rainy night, in a moment of madness, his only son and heir apparent, Sado (Yoo Ah-in), approaches the palace with his entourage. Assassination is their intention but they are foiled. Unable to bring himself to accuse Sado of high treason, which according to the rules of the Yi Dynasty would place his reign in peril, Yeongjo condemns him to die of hunger and thirst in a wooden box, under the blazing sun. Over the course of eight days, through the memories of a family torn by hunger for power, sibling rivalries and mental illness, it is revealed what brought the prince Sado to make an attempt on his father’s life, and why Yeongjo condemned his own son to such a horrible death.

The story of Prince Sado left an indelible mark on Korean history because his father, King Yeongjo, was the longest lasting ruler of the Joseon era, and also because of the tragic and horrifying circumstances of his death. THE THRONE is a technical tour de force, with sumptuous artistic direction, cinematography, costume design and soundtrack. The screenplay, exposing all the contradictions of its characters, and direction that’s at once intimate and grandiose, by Lee Joon-ik (THE KING AND THE CLOWN), who makes a powerful family tragedy out of this national drama. The great Song Kang-ho (THE HOST) delivers an imperial performance as the King and the always-excellent Yoo Ah-in (PUNCH) vividly presents each stage of Prince Sado’s descent into hell. No surprise that THE THRONE was South Korea’s Oscar contender last year. Like the historical events it describes, its filmmaking virtuosity isn’t easily forgotten.

— Nicolas Archambault