I've noticed that the writing style in historical chinese dramas look very different from normal hanzi. It looks like ancient chinese, from where modern chinese has developed. What I'm wondering is; is this the same as modern hanzi but with more soft and bent strokes, or is it different characters?
Its actually different. I'll throw in some pictures i found on Google. And if i did not remember wrongly, there are a few more types of writing between Bone and Clerical, depending on the dynasty. There is a long history on this.
I think that the language they use today originates from the 'ancient Chinese' as you called them or seal scripts. The meaning of each word is portrayed in the writing. It was an easy way to 'write what they see'
Yeah this looks like seal script. Most of the ones here are recognizable to their modern version. Some I wouldn't know what they were but I don't know whether that's because I'm still technically beginner. Some of them are almost identical: 多, 開, 中 for instance.
They are an ancient version of it, rather than different characters completely.