I first tracked this drama production series back in 2007 when it first started shooting. After five long years of waiting and when I've finally concluded that the Chinese government probably banned it for its political ramification, Lu Yi announced on his Sina microblog it's going to air soon! Some news article reports the official broadcast date to be May 16, but I don't trust that source completely. BUT YAY! YAY! YAY! *screams of joy* I'm super excited about this series! I personally think Su Shi is perhaps one of the most fascinating figures in Chinese history.
Check out the GORGEOUS ending theme song!
Su Dongpo isn't your typical Chinese period dramas with ton of court women plotting or melodramatic romance. It's a quite serious drama densely packed with substantive historical details and the dialogue is spoken mostly in classical Chinese. To add more credence to the writing, the screenwriter is actually a professor from People's University of China in Beijing who spent years writing the script. It may also mean the story might be too dry and boring for some people. For Chinese history aficionados, this is a must-watch drama!
Even though Su Shi is most famous for his poems, he was also once the magistrate of Hangzhou, governor, engineer, talented calligrapher, teacher, writer, pharmacologist, and gastronome, In other words, he was the quintessential Song Dynasty's version of the "Renaissance man." I think either historians or Su Shi's contemporaries once commented that there wouldn't be another talented man such as Su Shi for the next one hundred years. Despite his talent and high intelligence, his straightforward forward, overly optimistic, and devil-may-care personality frequently got him in trouble. Because of the intense fractional strife within the Song Dynasty's government, Su Shi often became the target of political persecution and his life went up, down, up and down.
I actually first got interested in Su Shi not because of his literary accomplishments, but only after I read about his concubine's devotion toward him. There were three important women in his life: his first wife, second wife, and concubine.
First wife Wang Fu:
|Su Shi (Lu Yi) and Wang Fu (Ruby Lin)|
Concubine - Wang Zhaoyun
Are you all curious why even his concubine has the same Wang surname as his wives? Su Shi was probably the person who gave her this name and also the person who taught Wang Zhaoyun how to read. Wang Zhaoyun came from a very impoverished family and was sold to a entertainment/courtesan house at a very young age. She probably received some musical training at the courtesan house. When she was 11 or 12, Su Shi or Wang Runzhi purchased her from the courtesan house to serve as Runzhi's personal handmaid and to help out with the household chores. Hence, she took her mistress' surname. Historians have no idea when Wang Zhaoyun became Su Shi's concubine. We only know she gave birth to his youngest son, Su Dun, when she was 21 years old.
|Wang Zhaoyun and Su Shi taking a scroll around the West Lake of Huizhou in present day Guangdong Province|
Lu Yi and Ruby Lin groofing off during shooting...
The beauty of this poem gets lost in translation, so bear with the rough English translation. He composed the poem one night after dreaming about his first wife, Wang Fu.
Ten years living and dead have drawn apart
I do nothing to remember
But I cannot forget
Your lonely grave a thousand miles away ...
Nowhere can I talk of my sorrow --
Even if we met, how would you know me
My face full of dust
My hair like snow?
In the dark of night, a dream: suddenly, I am home
You by the window
Doing your hair
I look at you and cannot speak
Your face is streaked by endless tears
Year after year must they break my heart
These moonlit nights?
That low pine grave?
(Translation Credit to wiki)