The romance drama “Past Lives” from A24 tells the tale of Nora and Hae Sung, who reunite twelve years after parting ways. As they consider the significance of their presence in one another’s lives and what their chance encounter after more than ten years might imply, their story has many highs and lows. Although it starts out as a story about two childhood sweethearts who are split up and then reunited, it expands on that concept and touches upon something far more profound than the idea of a straightforward love story. The core of the movie is referred to as “in-yeon” (also spelt “in yun”). How does it relate to the plot and what does it mean? Let’s investigate. Spoilers follow.
What Does In-Yeon Mean in Past Lives?
In its most basic form, in-yeon denotes the bond between two individuals. It views all interactions between individuals as the result of a connection they had in a previous life, even if it’s only someone passing you on the street. In the film, Nora explains it to Arthur and says that for a marriage to be legal, the couple must have a combined history of 8000 in-yun. This indicates that they have come into contact with one another 8000 times in their past lives.
In-yeon is about how we cannot control who enters our lives, becomes friends with us, falls in love with us, or even leaves our lives, according to writer-director Celine Song. She sat down and continued, “It’s about the ineffable thing…about every relationship, even the one with the person who brushes up against you, even you and me.” She elaborated on the concept and emphasised that in-yeon is about more than just fate or destiny in a romantic sense. It’s simple to think of In-Yun as something you can only have in a unique destiny with someone else, in my opinion. That strikes me as being very Western in mindset. So much of In-Yun is something that comes to you when you think in the Eastern manner of thinking. You can’t truly stop destiny from coming to you; it just happens. You must develop the ability to tolerate it, she continued.
The movie mentions this definition of in-yeon, particularly in the scene where Hae Sung tells Arthur that they are both in-yeon. There are more involved than simply Arthur and Nora or Nora and Hae Sung. It is about the relationships we form with those we come into contact with, most of whom will either continue to be strangers to us or turn into strangers after we lose contact with them. In that sense, it just refers to the fact that something is the way it is because that is how it should be.
Hae Sung claims in a particular incident that Nora is someone who always departs. She is the one who remains, though, for Arthur. In another scenario, Arthur wonders if Nora merely happened to meet up with him by accident. Their tale was far from being as epic and passionate as Nora and Hae Sung’s. What if another man had attended the residence where Arthur and Nora first met? What if that other man also shared a lot of similarities with Nora? How could she have ended up with that person differently than she did with Arthur?
Nora makes reference to in-yeon as he seeks a deeper significance in their connection and a more romantic notion of how they came to be together. It doesn’t matter how or if something would have gone differently if it had been someone else. What Nora’s alternative existence may have looked like is irrelevant because she met Arthur, fell in love with him, and decided to wed him. Those are in-yeon. Because they got married in this existence, they must have had 8,000 levels of in-yeon in previous incarnations.
Song hoped that by including this concept into the film, viewers will reflect more deeply about in-yeon and the bonds that bind us. “I think it can be a part of everybody’s life and the way we think about everyone,” she said. One reason for this, in my opinion, is because it gives each and every interaction we have with others weight, significance, and depth. Because if you can think of the person who handed you a cup of water as someone you have In-Yun with, then I believe that your perspective on that person will alter, as will the way you respect and care for them. I believe having In-Yun can be a very fantastic thing.