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Musical ‘Lost Face 1895’ to be screened in 40 CGV cinemas

A scene from the musical ‘Lost Face 1895‘ starring Cha Ji-yeon (front) and Kim Yong-han (Seoul Performing Arts Company)
A scene from the musical ‘Lost Face 1895‘ starring Cha Ji-yeon (front) and Kim Yong-han (Seoul Performing Arts Company)

“Lost Face 1895,” a musical performance film, will soon be coming to 40 CGV cinemas across the country starting Feb. 24.

The film is created and distributed by the Seoul Performing Arts Company under the Culture Ministry.

“Abroad, a number of musical performances were recorded to be made into films, such as the UK National Theater’s NT Live and the US Metropolitan Opera Live. But this has not been tried much in Korea,” SPAC President Yoo Hee-sung said during a press conference held at CGV Yongsan in central Seoul on Tuesday. “As a state-run organization, we want to lead in securing the public’s right to enjoy culture through this.”

The movie features a live musical performance that was recorded in July last year with a 4K video with 5.1 channel audio.

“I first performed this musical seven to eight years ago and this movie is something that I had never imagined back then,” said Cha Ji-yeon, who plays protagonist Empress Myeongseong in the film. “I thought it would be nice if this film could open up more opportunities for people to access stage performances.“

Cha added that live stage performance in theaters has its power, but big screen viewers will be able to take a closer look at things that are hard to see in theaters, like the actors’ eye movements.

The 148-minute film is a fictional story based on the history of Empress Myeongseong (1851-1895) -- also known as Queen Min -- who was murdered by Japanese assassins.

The musical’s story starts with the imagination that all existing photos of Empress Myeongseong are fakes because she declined to have one taken until she established a Joseon that she has been dreaming of.

There are several fictional characters, including photographer Hwi (Shin Sang-un), who plans revenge against the empress, who had killed his mother and destroyed his hometown for spreading negative rumors about her.

During the press conference, Jang Sung-hee, the writer of the musical production, shared her feelings about her work being turned into a film.

“Initially, I had concerns about turning a stage performance into a film. As a writer, it was great to hear the lines and lyrics clearly,” Jang said. “I think this is a third genre, one that is different from stage musicals.”

“I was also worried about how the film would turn out. Stage performances are magical. It instantly brings audiences to another world through actors’ sweat and breath being harmonized on site. I was not sure how that could happen on the big screen,” actress Cha said. “I do not have worries anymore. I do not know much about technical things but it felt like I was watching a real live performance.”

Cha also added that she appreciates how the film is screened in 40 CGV cinemas.

“Our performances usually take place in Seoul. It is great that people outside of Seoul can also enjoy our show,” Cha said.

By Song Seung-hyun (