“Sword Snow Stride”, a martial arts cdrama, is an epic of the growth of a man’s spirit and strength.
The series is based on the growth of Xu Feng Nian (徐凤年), the unconventional, free-spirited son of King of Northern Liang.
It combines various elements of martial arts, fantasy, and power, and conspiracy to show the hero’s unbridled blood and vitality in pursuit of freedom, responsibility, and love, as well as the resulting spiritual growth and change.
In the end, Xu Fengnian grows up to be the qualified successor of the King of Northern Liang.
A wonderful adaptation of the original
This drama is based on the novel of the same name by the writer Feng Huo Xi Zhu Hou (烽火戏诸侯), with an original of more than 4.5 million words and a large number of original fans.
Because of the novel’s many characters, complex clues, and peculiar scenes and plots, original fans all consider it an extremely difficult novel to be adapted.
“Sword Snow Stride” has drawn the attention of countless fans of the original novel since it started airing. Even if the level of adaptation of the drama is high, it is difficult to meet the imagination of all the original fans. The imagination brought by the abstract words always exceeds the figurative images in the drama.
But when you watch the whole drama, you will be conquered by the screenwriter Wang Juan‘s (王倦) superb adaptation. (P.S. Joy of Life is also adapted by Wang Juan)
The drama not only retains the core and charm of the novel, but also makes some adaptations in the plot and characters, which make the story more compact and the characters’ image and fate more distinct.
It is the full-figured characters that show us a fastidious Jianghu, and these characters are intertwined with the games and power plots of the temple of the Northern Liang to advance each other, with a succession of perils and conflicts, and a condensed restoration of the essence of the original novel.
From the episode, we can see that Wang Juan has cleverly amplified the emotional relationships of some characters in the original, such as the relationship between Xu Fengnian and Lao Huang, and the relationship between Xu Fengnian and his two sisters and brother, all of which are portrayed with great authenticity and a strong sense of immersion.
In particular, the relationship between Xu Fengnian and Lao Huang, which makes a big deal in the beginning and is presented in a big way at the end, opens up a map of inner emotions and experiences for us to understand the spiritual world of the main character, allowing the audience to better immerse themselves in the plot and grow up together with the main character.
The drama simultaneously has a clear framework of the chivalrous saga, allowing the main character to experience the journey of adventure, growth and return, allowing us to appreciate that human freedom and independence are the roots of the beauty of history and legend.
Only by knowing how to appreciate the beauty of character and the insight it brings can we truly appreciate the essence of the chivalrous world. As the episodes evolve, it is easy to be captivated by the chivalrous hearts and deep feelings of the human world presented in the drama.
The director, Song Xiaofei (宋晓飞), is a cinematographer and has directed the movie “The Grandmaster”, so we can see the cinematic camera, art, costumes and makeup in “Sword Snow Stride”all look beautiful.
The design of some martial arts shots is also innovative, blending martial arts and metaphysical filming, with both deadly precision and metaphysical fairy and ethereal, all presenting the director’s unique aesthetic pursuit of camera.
For example, in 36 episodes, Li Chun Gang and Wang Xianzhi’s ultimate battle at sea, the sword and the water seemed to merge into one, and eventually pierced a heavenly gate in the dark cloudy sky. These techniques are rarely seen in past martial arts dramas.
The “Sword Snow Stride” shows a group of veteran actors and actresses, also unforgettable. These old actors are like a group of “old urchins”, such as Qiu Xinzhi’s Li Chun Gang, who sits with Jiang Ni on a carriage and asks him to be his disciple, which is funny and cute.
Yang Haoyu’s Lao Huang has a great sense of humor in his lines and body language, and his dialogue with Xu Feng Nian is very funny. Unexpectedly, he is actually a master, which conveys the legendary nature of the character perfectly.
Hu Jun portrayed the multi-faceted nature of Xu Xiao to the fullest, he is good at calculating, but in front of the children, is funny and obsequious.
He is a scheming politician, a hard-headed soldier, and a father who loves his children. Of course, he also has his far-sightedness and seems to have multiple personalities present in his body. Hu Jun very subtly portrays the complex emotional relationship with his two sons, reflecting the complexity of human nature.
The Cultural Fusion of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism
The presentation of the martial arts spirit in “Sword Snow Stride” has its own unique features.
The core of the martial arts spirit is righteousness and faith, which is in fact the essence of Confucianism. It is an imaginary space abstracted from society, where the most vivid and romantic spirit of traditional culture can grow freely.
Every brilliant martial arts drama will inject some unique discoveries into this space, and this is also the case with “Sword Snow Stride”.
Different characters in the drama have different endings, but behind them all is a free personality with dignity and individuality. This martial arts spirit, looking forward to everyone in their own hearts, open up a self-contained and self-sufficient world, reducing some external competition and struggle.
“Sword Snow Stride” also has fights, but different from the physical combat, rather like a battle between two spirits, and presents a culture of peace. Because those who really understand the spirit of martial arts have a completely self-sufficient heart.
Some of the martial arts scenes in “Sword Snow Stride” are also imaginative, such as the 14 episode where Li Chun Gang takes on the Fu Jiang Hong Jia Ren, condensing rainwater into a weapon.
From the drama, we find that these knights-errant not only see martial arts as an art, but also see it as an emotional experience of both reverence and yearning for something sacred, as trust and care for the ultimate existence.
“In the eyes of a knight-errant, martial arts has a religious sentiment, a reverence for the “Mandate of Heaven (天命)” and the “Way of Heaven (天道)”, which is the true place for life.
For Li Chun Gang, swordplay represents a sacred power that never ends, and this power is the “Mandate of Heaven”.
When a swordsman thinks about the way of martial arts, he takes everything in heaven and earth as a reference. The way of martial arts, in the eyes of a swordsman, not only transcends the human world, but even transcends everything in the universe, and has a sense of ultimate care. Only when one feels this ultimate concern can one gain a sense of mission for the art one is practicing.
Traditional Chinese culture believes that the highest value of life is to constantly demonstrate this divine power that transcends life and heaven and earth. In the eyes of the knight-errant, it is the martial path that can be nurtured with the participation of heaven and earth.
The way of martial arts they uphold is inseparable from the spirit of humanity, and it does not have an “other shore” far away from the human world.
From the actions of the various knight-errant in the drama, we see that to achieve the transcendence of martial arts and the completion of one’s life, one must use the same sentiment to look at all things in heaven and earth and become one with them.
Wang Xianzhi was a well-deserved martial arts genius who could boast of the best of the best, but claimed to be the second-best in the world, in that he understood that supreme state of martial arts to be completely at one with the philosophy of benevolence and righteousness in traditional Chinese culture. In his case, he embodies human values and shows that there is a divine finality in the testimony of heavenly destiny in the human world.
When the knight-errant carries out self-cultivation and moral cultivation in this spirit of reverence, it expands not only the inner world of man, but also enables him to transcend the outer mountains and rivers of nature and reach the ultimate realm of symbiosis with all things.
And Xu Feng Nian’s growth journey is a Jinxing (尽性) and Zhiming (知命) process.
Jinxing is to give full play to one’s natural goodness and let it go through the trials and tribulations of growing up and the teachings of the saints in order to restore one’s natural goodness and nature. At the same time, it is necessary to know the external, that is, the mission is given by nature, history, the times, and the martial way.
Chinese martial arts adhere to the Jinxing and Zhiming view of traditional culture, which sees life and the pursuit of the martial way as a dynamic process of development.
On the one hand, it believes that human nature has endless possibilities, but on the other hand, it also recognizes the specific limitations imposed on human beings by nature and history, which, on the contrary, become the value of our lives.
Zhiming here is also a kind of spiritual comfort for the losers, because it also affirms the value of human beings. Therefore, the defeated in the duel by force, like Lao Huang and Lao Kui at the bottom of the lake, will still be regarded as heroes, because they embody the power of humanity and life.
From the play, we can see that there is Confucianism, which “takes the world as one’s duty”, and there is also Buddhism and Taoism, which aspire to spiritual freedom and spirituality.
And Xu Feng Nian’s growth encounter becomes the best story carrier to show this thought perception, depicting the traditional Chinese cultural picture of the fusion of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. This is where the uniqueness of “Sword Snow Stride” as a wuxia drama lies.
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