Saturday, April 04, 2020

[First Impression] 365: Repeat The Year

At first traveling back in time may seem like a brilliant idea, given that humans always have regrets over past events and they would always do things differently. But we never ask for the price of it.

I am genuinely curious how they will explain all of this (as I did not read the book). Time travel is notoriously hard to make into a believable plot that makes sense. By sending only the memories one year into the past, the plot gets rid few paradoxes that time travel always poses - mainly meeting yourself from the past.

The plot reminds me a bit of Agatha Christie's novel "And Then There Were None", because we meet 10 people who were seemingly haphazardly chosen by Yi Shin and invited to go back one year in time. And each and every one of them has a reason to do so - detective Hyeongju so he could save a partner and a friend who was killed n an act of revenge performed by the guy Hyeongju put in jail. Gahyeon - because she was the victim of a hit-and-run which left her paralyzed and driving a wheelchair. Jeungseok - because he became homeless, Serin - because she wants to study hard and get accepted to Hankuk University. As it turns out - a year is quite a lot of time.

 The only thing that's missing in the picture above is Cerberus.

Agatha Christie's reference shows when people invited to reset their lives are starting to die. What is more, it does seem obvious they were not chosen randomly as so many people know each other from before or have a connection, albeit sometimes a coincidental one.

The visual motifs remind us all the time about time - circular shapes bringing to mind a clock or towers. The circular - and maybe I'm stretching it - also reminds me of one concept of time: not linear but more philosophical and religious concept of time as circles coming one after another after another after completion of a cycle. The linear one is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics at work - the entropy of the isolated system will always rise, that's why we can't un-spill the spilled milk.

And then there are obvious visual hints to time - an hourglass and the fine sand trapped inside. I liked one moment in the drama when the editing made the hourglass turn 90 degrees to the left into the horizontal position because this one simple trick shifted completely the meaning. An hourglass is a pretty but cruel reminder of how quickly time passes, but horizontally it makes the shape of infinity. 
An hourglass makes also the number 8 vertically and there are 8 burning hells and 8 frozen hells in some Buddhist scriptures about Hell. And I read their descriptions, you know, so they're not fun.

It's fast paced, characters are nicely sketched and they all fit into the very murky plot involving rectifying the mistakes from the past year. We also know, from the Yeonsu's case, that some people even though given the second chance they will commit the same mistake. So maybe the goal here is to be as altruistic as possible? To use the reset and a new chance to do something for others and not something selfish?

Some years ago I read a book about the time travel, explaining all the theoretical requirements and outcomes (2). In theory there is no law in Physics that explicitly prohibits the time travel. It might be impossible to travel past the time of inventing the time machine itself (so, no dinos sadly), but there are shows that deal with this restriction (12 Monkeys tv series brilliantly dealt with the concept of time, founding the fabric of it on human pillars, the conduits of time itself, the Primaries). The mechanism of it is not yet explained here, and I wonder that no character asked what exactly would happen with their physical bodies when their memories would be transported to a year back. That was my first red flag that popped up when I heard of only memories traveling back.

The tree here in the middle of the circular center - it looks odd among the nearly futuristic and geometrical shapes filled with water (yet another symbol for passing time (hi, Heraclitus)). Also, I might be mistaken but it looks like a baobab tree and "[t]ribal elders and kings used to hold meetings under baobab trees since they believed that the tree's spirits would guide them in decision-making"(1)

Oh, someone's a Shawol.
I'm not saying you should fear a Shawol with a plan but that's totally what I'm saying.
I was thinking, during that red flag moment, about their status - so their memories were transported back in time. Are those memories superimposed on their existing ones? Shouldn't that lead to some dissociative behavior? Because their brains were flooded with one year worth of memories they did not accumulate gradually, so being hit at once with so much data - this could be like a DDoS attack and should somehow make them unstable?

I think they are all dead anyway. That limousine crashed. They have only like a year of life left cause they all died in order to have their memories transported and reset. Or rather they could be thrown in a time loop - so that when the January of 2020 comes, will they die again and restart? The second option would explain how Yi Shin went through many resets. Will they continue living past January 2020 even though they will cross the threshold of their own death? See, time travel always brings out some paradoxes.
She could be the one trapped and connected to the loop and she needs others to help her break it so she tricks people into entering the past with her. And they die, one by one.
Because, as the book about time travel stated, it would be impossible to change the course of the history. Time will repair itself and put on the tracks again, and the new version is but a mere a glitch.

But hell, the montage, editing and landscapes (also urban ones) are stunning here. Same goes for the choice of the songs for the soundtrack. Great job!

(1) “Tree of life” facing an outbreak of deaths: source
(2) B. Clegg, How to Build a Time Machine: The Real Science of Time Travel, 2011