Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Four Loves"- Faith (or) The Great Doctor

As if the word “love” wasn’t messy enough...  Permit me a word of clarification before I begin my review about Eros love.

C.S. Lewis states: "By eros, I mean of course that state which we call "being in love"; or, if you prefer, that kind of love which lovers are "in". "
Our word "erotic" comes from the word eros. Big surprise, right? Those words have a lot of negative connotations associated with them. When I talk about “eros” I do not imply only carnal sexual drive, but that deeper relationship between two people who love each other romantically.

Plato describes eros as "the appreciation of beauty within another person".  I like that. I perceive eros as a combination of many layered attractions. Physical attraction is involved, but so is attraction to personality, and spirit.

Now that we're on the same page with our Greek, I present to you:

“Faith” or “The Great Doctor”

This is probably the first kind of love that comes to mind when I say the word "Love". Eros is romantic love, and it is probably the sort that is glorified the most in our culture today. Despite it being so popular, it took me a very long time to find a good film that highlights it. The ironic thing is that the one I've chosen is not even from Western culture! I would like to recommend a Korean Drama entitled "Faith" or "The Great Doctor". It begins as a time-traveling fantasy story- but the heart is really about two people and their growing love for each other.

Like I said, it's a time-traveling fantasy story. In ancient Korea, a princess is seriously wounded. Her husband entreats Choi-Young- captain of the guard, to travel through a magic portal and look for a legendary "Great Doctor" who is said to live on the other side.

Choi-Young obeys, and finds himself in modern day Korea. He ends up at a medical convention, and ends up kidnaping a plastic surgeon, Eun-Soo. 

I never thought my favorite romantic movie would be about a martial arts guy and a plastic surgeon falling in love...

As odd as the premise seems, it starts unfolding into an extremely engaging story. Because it is Korean, the style is very different. The filmmakers decided that every important event must be recapped in slow motion- which would usually annoy me to death, but in this case I find it rather amusing. Because of this film, I've started to tease my friends who are in relationships with the threat of playing slow pop music every time they hold hands. Apparently slow pop music is very important in Korean love stories...

But underneath all the cheese, I really do adore the characters. There is a sub-romance involving the injured princess and her husband. They were married, not out of love but out of duty, and at first the prince does his best to avoid his wife. He resents her for being from a different country, while she in turn feels abandoned and shunned.

As the series progresses, the royal couple end up falling in love. Which is really interesting to watch. Usually if there isn't any eros in an onscreen marriage, the characters end up looking for it somewhere else. Which only leads to more dysfunction and heartache. 

I'm going to bunny trail for just a moment. As I've studied the four loves, I've discovered that three of them can be twisted by selfishness. This dark-side of love is very often brought up in Eros- even exalted in some of today's media. The idea that love is just a good feeling- can be exclusive, and destructive. It can even drive a wedge between two people in “love”! 

"It's only good as long as it feels good, and by golly I want to feel good!"

And if it doesn’t “feel good” anymore….  The person you thought “loved” you is cold, gone, and looking for that good feeling somewhere else.

This is where "Faith" is exceptional. Our young lovers Eun-Soo and Choi-Young put their relationship on the back-burner time and time again in order to help their friends, and their country. In the touching moments where they show just how much they care for each other, they still remain unselfish. When Eun-Soo finds out that she is dying by poison, she is upset- not for herself, but for Choi-Young. She's not afraid to die, but she doesn't want Choi-Young to have to go through the inevitable pain of living life alone.

Even when she's dying, she isn't thinking of herself. That is one of the most beautiful examples of Eros I've ever seen. It is a very strong emotional connection, and left raw might be only sexual or a shallow conditional friendship. However, tempered with unselfishness it becomes a precious insight. Love stories like this are rare, which is a shame, because our raw sexual media could use a little unselfish tempering.

1 comment: