The combination of a hard-hitting thriller and a touching drama has captivated millions of viewers around the world.
As a student, I often sit at my laptop at night. When I’m edit my paper, I keep turning on a new movie or TV series. Since I can’t work in silence. I get bored, and a TV series helps me focus on the case.
My favorite channel is Netflix. I recently came across some interesting new information for me and couldn’t pass it by.
The streaming service Netflix has been releasing non-English-language series from various countries for years. With enviable regularity, they become hits on the platform.
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Germany’s “Darkness”, Spain’s “Paper House”, and France’s “Lupin” have garnered huge fan bases and received the highest praise from critics.
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Now South Korea’s Squid Game joins them. Strangely enough, the series did not have a so-called bombshell effect at the start.
It came out on September 17, and in the first few days, there wasn’t much talk about the project.
But as of this writing, Squid Game is already the most-watched release on Netflix in 90 countries, and may soon set an all-time viewing record, surpassing the famed Bridgertons.
The series truly deserves that popularity. It combines brutality and action with the personal tragedies of the characters, who have to make difficult choices. Also, the project is very well-staged.
The Plot of the Series Is Totally Unpredictable
Already in the first few episodes, “Squid Game” changes its tone several times. Initially, the viewer is introduced to the main character, Sung Ki Hoon, who is mired in debt.
He accepts an offer from a stranger to play a humiliating but lucrative game in order to pay back a large sum of money to gangsters.
Then he invites Song Ki-hoon to a strange contest with a large cash prize.
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This is where a drama about a poor man’s life turns into an anti-utopia like The Battle of Kings.
The hero finds himself among 456 people who participate in various children’s competitions. Except that for everyone to lose means death.
This plot immediately gives “The Squid Game” several advantages over other movies and series about deadly contests.
First of all, here the characters agree to the trials voluntarily: they can even end everything by common decision.
This, by the way, allows the authors to surprise the viewer once again and tell more about the characters.
Secondly, it is not uncommon for such stories to show anyone type of competition. Most often it is just fights, chases, or shootings (you can remember at least the “Hunger Games” or “Cool Guns”).
Here, however, each of the next tasks is different from the previous one. Therefore, neither participants nor the audience can predict what will happen next.
Sometimes the heroes will be teamed up, sometimes – fight only for themselves. In some games, strength is important, in others – it, or even just luck.
Even more so, it’s impossible to know how the season will end.
Then it becomes clear that the clues have been given more than once, but still, the denouement is sure to surprise almost everyone.
The Squid Game Has Ambiguous Characters and Deep Drama
An even bigger plus of the series is that the action is not focused only on one character.
Viewers are introduced to a whole team of interesting characters, and everyone can choose one who seems closest and most interesting.
For instance, there is the protagonist’s longtime friend Cho San Woo, who plays number 218. He went to a prestigious university, and everyone around him considers him the pride of the poor neighborhood.
Except that he also happens to be a loser and is ashamed to tell about it. There is also a North Korean defector at number 67.
She wants to earn money to move her family, but so far she feels alien and alone.
Under number 1, there is an old man with a brain tumor playing. He’s just decided he wants to die for nothing.
Plus a migrant Pakistani, a violent bandit, a married couple, and a host of other interesting participants.
The unhurried development of the action over the course of nine episodes allows the writers to reveal almost every important character and helps the audience become attached to them.
And so by the middle of the season, you are genuinely worried about each of them.
“The Squid Game” is built on the characters’ constant need to make difficult choices. In order to survive, they must ally and betray.
And often the characters themselves do not know in advance where their decision will lead. And this is best revealed in the sixth series: the doom of the situation literally brings tears to your eyes.
Of course, the evil gangster number 101 seems to be an outright scoundrel. But the actions of most of the other characters are quite understandable.
And you involuntarily come to think: what would you do in a similar situation? What is more important: winning or helping others? Is it worthy to give up after you’ve already come this far?
And this is where a thriller about a survival game turns into a good way to think about your own moral principles and values.
This, by the way, makes “The Squid Game” akin to another unusual Netflix hit, the film “Platform. Both projects are about keeping a human face under extreme circumstances.
It’s Also a Very Stylish Project
Perhaps all the other virtues of the series wouldn’t be so easily captured if it weren’t so magnificently staged.
“Squid Game” is all built on contrasts. This is reflected in the plot as well as in the color scheme. Characters aren’t just handed guns or put in front of creepy machines from the conventional “Saw.”
Participants go through childish games: “quieter ride – farther you’ll be,” classics, the tug-of-war.
And all the rooms where the competitions are held, reminiscent of a dollhouse: as if the characters were sent to a children’s camp.
Except that here are the doomed people, and the loser is simply shot in the head.
Simple tracksuits with numbers from the participants are the opposite of the clothes of the guards.
By the way, the design of the villains’ red uniforms is almost the most stylish since the overalls in “Paper House.”
The meaning of the symbols on the masks make different assumptions: for example, they resemble the icons on the PlayStation gamepad.
But most likely, they are letters in the spelling of Hangul. In this interpretation circle, triangle and square can be deciphered as O, J, M, which adds up to Ojingeo Geim – “Squid Game” in Korean.
There’s also a theory that the game’s support staff is recruited from the same random losers: it all depends on what color envelope the candidate chooses.
And in general, the abundance of mysterious symbols and understatement leave a lot of room for the imagination of the audience, which also fuels interest.
Even the filming and music here are built on contrast: in ordinary life, the characters are haunted if not by dark and gloom, then by pale gray tones.
The bright color scheme during the games seems to hint at their chance to enter another, brighter world. And the soundtrack sounds like relaxing waltzes or children’s tunes.
Which, of course, makes the violence that takes place on screen even more impressive.
But the biggest advantage of Squid Game is that the series, though tied to Korean culture in many ways, will be understandable in any country.
There is a clear-cut critique of capitalism in the story: the poor have to do cruel things to make a living, while the rich enjoy watching it.
But at the same time, the project also reveals the personal drama of each individual character. And to top it all off, it’s a fascinating, brutal film with a lot of violent scenes and unusual visuals.
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