Directed by Su Zhaobin and Lin Ziping, with Ni Ni and Bai Yu as the leading actors, and Jin Han, Meng Ziyi, and Zhang Yishang making special appearances, the fantasy adventure cdrama "Parallel World (西出玉门)" is currently airing.
The drama tell the story about Ye Liuxi and Chang Dong, one searching for the truth of their identity and the other unraveling the mysteries of the past, join forces to venture deep into the desert. In the depths of the desert, dangers lurk at every turn, as if invisible hands are pulling them into the the Jade Gate.
Amidst various forces, they navigate through numerous troubles, unraveling the truth and gaining insights into true love through life-and-death trials. The truth seems within reach, but they also find themselves ensnared in a larger conspiracy. With its magnificent spectacle, unique visual style, tight pacing, and gripping storyline, the drama quickly captivates audiences of different ages and backgrounds.
A contemporary fantasy that lands with finesse
"Parallel World" is a fresh attempt at Chinese fantasy drama. In previous fantasy dramas, the fantastical elements were often derived from the convergence of the past and present or the turmoil of human hearts. "Parallel World" takes a different approach by using the gateway as a medium and the protagonist's amnesia as a pivot, introducing the concept of parallel time and space.
The original author Tail Fish's novel has always been known for its boundless imagination, splendid and bizarre worldviews, and unexpected and elaborate settings. While the novel's worldview can be conveyed through storytelling, in the visual medium, excessive exposition can become tedious, while throwing all the settings at once may not be user-friendly for those unfamiliar with the original work. How to strike the right balance and pace in this adaptation is a major challenge for all fantasy works.
"Parallel World" understands this well. When news of the adaptation first broke, internet users expressed concerns about whether the grand worldview of the novel could be successfully translated. The creative team broke away from the conventional logic and focused the first eight episodes on the outside of the parallel world. However, through the characters' occasional remarks, a mysterious inner world gradually unfolds before the audience's eyes.
In the first ten minutes of the first episode, "Parallel World" sets up two hooks. Why is Ye Liuxi suspended here? Logically speaking, after being suspended for so long, even a living person would have turned into a corpse. Why does she seem unharmed? What hidden secrets does Chang Dong carry? Subsequently, Chang Dong's hook gradually reveals itself, while Ye Liuxi's hook remains elusive.
The appearances of Fei Tang, Ding Liu, and Gao Shen, as well as the characters and scenes that appear in flashbacks, continuously intensify the suspenseful atmosphere of the entire drama. The mixture of true and false folklore, the panic of fellow travelers after the disappearance of tire tracks, flags, and bodies, and the firsthand witnessing of glowing "Xiao Yao" and gigantic sand eyes akin to a school of sardines, all immerse viewers into that world involuntarily.
Audiences are left craving for more and naturally eager to continue watching. Viewers familiar with the original work know that "Parallel World" consists of two worlds: inside and outside the gate. It is only at the end of the tenth episode that the inner world begins to emerge. This seemingly unconventional approach, which deviates from the usual dramatic structure, is actually a clever and light-handed stroke from the creators.
If using hooks to draw in the audience can be considered a illusory tactic, then seamlessly blending traditional elements such as shadow puppetry, Qin opera, with modern lifestyles filled with barbecues, stewed meat, lamb soup, and Hami melons, is an authentic strategy that cannot be more authentic. Moreover, the magnificent desert landscapes of Yadan, Hailongdui, and Liusha River elevate the atmosphere of fantasy and mystery to new heights.
The interconnected small and large puzzles, the symbiotic relationship between truth and illusion, the unveiling of the puzzle, the collision between dramatic hooks and stunning scenery, enable viewers to synchronize their perspectives with the characters in the drama, seamlessly integrating smooth storytelling with captivating plot twists, and truly delivering surprises to fans of the original work and dazzling the drama's enthusiasts, achieving an innovation in the fantasy genre.
Self-finding & mutual trust
The essence of "Parallel World" is essentially a story of mutual trust and mutual influence. Ye Liuxi is an indescribable extraordinary woman. She is the focal point of "Parallel World" and the spiritual core of the entire story. She is a character who possesses both wildness and spontaneity, with no rules in her heart. If someone wrongs her, she will repay them doubly; but when facing life and death, she has a unique sense of freedom.
Ye Liuxi always does things that seem strange to others but brings her joy. She is reluctant to eat meat buns and would rather chew on hard steamed buns; she is unwilling to stay in hotel rooms and sleeps in her car every day; to save money, she borrowed Changdong's room to take a shower when they first met; and whenever she arrives in a new place, her first priority is to find work.
"Have I lost myself if I lose my memory?" Ye Liuxi is always on a quest to find herself. She is a wandering knight with amnesia, carrying countless secrets, not knowing where she came from or where she is going. Fortunately, she meets Changdong. He is the catalyst for her destiny to restart and the crucial first step on her path to rebirth.
Changdong also grows step by step. His first half of life was carefree and dashing, but the second half was burdened with chains. When Ye LiuXi meets him, he disguises himself as his own uncle and lives in the illusion of shadow puppetry. "Can we forget after letting go of the past?" Changdong cannot let go of the inner condemnation, often waking up from dreams, and the "eighteen lives" becoming an eternal chain. His later life seems to be lived to pay off debts. But after meeting Ye Liuxi, hope appears. Shadow puppetry can only bring solace, but the truth can bring rebirth.
Ye LiuXi and Changdong are variables to each other, and their mutual redemption begins. In fact, they never gave up. The desert's wind and sand are fierce, and the road conditions are unpredictable. Changdong hasn't entered the desert for two years, but he still remembers every piece of places vividly. Perhaps he has mentally walked that road over and over again.
Ye Liuxi and Changdong help each other out of their respective predicaments and achieve a relationship of absolute trust. Along the way, they transitioned from testing each other to trusting each other, from being fully armed to letting go of their sharpness. From strangers to lending a helping hand, and finally being able to entrust their backs to each other, they are comrades-in-arms and lovers. "Parallel World" presents not only the characterization but also the deeper values and emotional relationships in this genre.
Another witness to the long-termism of the platform
Behind the pleasant surprise brought by "Parallel World," we can see that Tencent Video has done its homework on this project. Firstly, the casting is on point. Who is Ye Liuxi? A charming and extraordinary woman from the northwest. Ni Ni has left a deep impression on the audience as a beautiful and confident woman with an Oriental aesthetic. She shares many qualities with Ye Liuxi in terms of temperament, but also manages to break through different styles, showcasing the openness and confidence of Ye Liuxi in every move.
Generally speaking, in adventure stories told from a female perspective, the male lead must have distinctive characteristics without overshadowing the brilliance of the female lead. Bai Yu is indeed the most suitable choice, as he naturally exudes a melancholic temperament between his eyebrows. Together with the heavy burden carried by Changdong, just sitting there, he exudes a sense of melancholy, desolation, and hardship.
Furthermore, the on-site shooting allows for the most authentic representation of local customs and culture. Stepping into the vastness of the Gebi Desert and the endless yellow sand in "Parallel World," the production has successfully recreated the grand and majestic atmosphere of the original work. The sense of boundlessness when looking up at the yellow sand, the feeling of being overwhelmed by sandstorms, these are difficult to surpass in any studio shooting.
Moreover, effective adaptation is essential as fantasy themes are not a new territory, and audience tastes are constantly evolving. In addition to pursuing sensational sensory experiences, the younger generation of viewers also hopes to find emotional resonance through the process of seeking the truth. The film and television adaptation of "Parallel World" not only faithfully reproduces the magnificent and fantastical landscapes from the original work, but also enhances and innovates the extraordinary and fantastical elements within.
Lastly, strategic planning is crucial. Tencent Video had already acquired multiple novels by Wei Yu as early as 2021, including "Parallel World," "Three-Line Reincarnation," "Long Gu Fen Xiang," and "Xiao Qi Qing Rang." Especially with "Xiao Qi Qing Rang," just 14 days after its completion, it appeared in Tencent Video's drama lineup.
The strengths of the collective have contributed to the breakthrough of "Parallel World," this fantasy drama. In terms of the unique characteristics and content advantages of Wei Yu's novels themselves, "Parallel World" breaks free from the stereotype of adventure themes being heavy on special effects and light on humanity. Furthermore, through the techniques of film and television adaptation, it infuses the work with more freshness and originality.
Objectively speaking, the filming of "Parallel World" is an adventure into the unknown, which would not have been possible without the innovative and thorough preparation of the creative team, as well as the bold exploration and strong support from Tencent Video.
In the current landscape of increasingly homogeneous and monotonous cdramas, audiences are always eagerly anticipating the emergence of more flavorful and innovative works. If "Parallel World" can maintain its quality from beginning to end, it will undoubtedly pave a new path for contemporary fantasy drama.