Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A refreshing and epic retelling of Naxi ethnic history in Turbulence of the Mu Clan/Mu Fu Feng Yun

Are you tired of dynastic Chinese history, palace dramas, or idol dramas in general? Turbulence of the Mu Clan or Mu Fu Feng Yun 木府风云 offers a good change of setting and some sugarcoated sweetness with the love story. This series traces the rise of a famous Naxi Chieftain and his beloved wife in 16th century southwest China. The highlight of this drama is the battle between hate and love. In sum, this is a classic Cinderella story mixed with Romeo and Juliet elements, except with some very different outcomes.

Synopsis:
Set in the Ming Dynasty, the Mu clan is the administrative and governing authority of Lijiang Prefecture. Its family members used blood and violence to reach the pinnacle of power. A casualty of this bloodshed was a young girl by the named of Aleqiu who was ingrained from childhood to exact revenge against the Mu clan for the extermination of her own family. As a child, she infiltrated the Mu clan and became a maidservant to the family's matriarch. Her mind is filled with schemes and manipulations, but Aleqiu still possesses her youthful innocence and kindness. She also unfortunately falls in love with her young master and heir to the governorship of Lijiang, Mu Zeng.  Just when the two lovebirds feel the hopelessness of their love and decide to be together in death, hope appears on the horizon. Aleqiu succeeds in becoming Mu Zeng's concubine, but her problems in the Mu household have only begun...
Mu Zeng and Aleqiu hiding from their pursuers


Background:
For those of you unfamiliar with this Chinese ethnic minority, the Naxi (also spelled Nahki 纳西)people reside mostly in the foothills of the Himalayas in modern northwestern Yunnan Province. They have their own independent culture and language. During the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, the imperial government in Beijing relied on chieftains from a Naxi noble family, the Mu clan, to govern this region . The position of chieftain was hereditary. Each year, he had to collect taxes and send tributes in the form of silver and grain to the imperial court. Other than taxation and tributes, the chieftains enjoyed relative autonomy on how they should govern their people and land.

Against this historical backdrop, Mu Zeng, the hero of our story, who was supposed to be the greatest Naxi chieftain, pops up onto our TV screen. According to Naxi legend and history, Mu Zeng was the most learned, cultivated, and capable ruler who brought peace and prosperity to the region. He also supposedly loved his wife A LOT. When she passed away, he decided to resign his position to his son and disappeared into the mountains never to be seen again. Not sure if this little story is folklore or based on substantiated records. But I think Mu Zeng probably disappeared from the political scene to live a more relax life in literature, arts, and religion. Anyway,  I believe Mu Zeng's wife, Aleqiu, has also been elevated to the status of goddess for her beauty, grace, and intelligence in Naxi culture.

Random Thoughts:
I just marathoned through every single minute of the first three episodes. I'm totally hooked onto this series so far! What caught my attention about this drama in the first place? Well, the little backstory about the chieftain and his beloved wife sounds touching. I also heard this series pull in some high ratings for CCTV and set some records.  It even double the ratings of Hu Ge and Liu Shishi's Xuan Yuan Jian. I also just like Romeo and Juliet premise without the Romeo and Juliet ending. Unlike most dramas where the story pretty ends once the OTP officially get together, this story actually chronicles their marriage life too. In history, you don't often hear about a man with power easily abandoning it for the sake of love!

For more personal reasons, the setting of this drama was a big bonus for me. A few years ago, I actually visited Yunnan Province and saw many of the famous locations seen in this drama. Though Lijiang Prefecture doesn't exist anymore, the Old Town of Lijiang and its surrounding geographic beauty still do. Lijiang is perhaps one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my life. I always knew Naxi people occupied Lijiang, but was pretty ignorant about their history. After some quick wiki/baidu research and digging into the promos/trailers of this series, I was completely blown away by the exotic costumes and the good-looking OTP. I will probably run off to watch some more once I'm done typing this post. :P

As for the ending? Continue to read at your own risk. It ends like any historical series...it follows history. LOL. Mu Zeng's son succeeds him. Then he goes off into the mountains to be with his Aleqiu. One of the better endings I've seen for a TV series.

Nice Little Video Intro

MV of Theme Song


Official Stills:

Some photos I took in Lijiang...My old point-and-shoot camera honestly did not do any justice to the breathtaking scenery of this place


If anyone is interested in downloading this series, please let me know! I'm actually downloading it right now on Sohu ...

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