A Conversation With "Maborosi" Director, Hirokazu Kore-Eda - Part II
by Mark L. Feinsod
To read the first part of this article, click here.
The splendor of “Maborosi” lies in the cinematography of Masao Nakabori, who
presents cityscape and landscape via compositions reflecting Yumiko’s sorrow.
Shots are held for longer than usual, and natural lighting is used
distinctively– interior scenes are sometimes so dark that no detail can be
discerned, and many exterior shots seem to have been captured during overcast
days. The story ends with the spectacle of Yumiko following a funeral
procession– first, we see them from overhead, through foliage and snowfall,
and then from afar, silhouetted against the ocean and the setting sun.
iW: The scenes with Yumiko’s grandmother disappearing, and of Ikuo leading up
to his suicide, have motifs to them — trains and bicycles and dreams, and so
forth. Which of these were conscious decisions with specific meanings, and
which were intuitive artistic decisions?
Kore-Eda: Right from the beginning of the film, I knew I wanted to use tunnels for
aesthetic as well as symbolic reasons. It’s not that one intention was
stronger than the other. The same goes for windowsills, stairways, terraces,
and any other place where the light changes.
iW: I think American viewers will be surprised by the relationship between
Yumiko and Tamio, and how although they get married as strangers they grow to
love and respect one another.
Kore-Eda: Arranged marriages are quite common in Japan even today, but a scenario
like the one in my movie is rare. In reality, people would go on a few dates
or at least have the kids meet each other before they remarry and start
living together. But in this film, I skipped that because this was the story
of Yumiko and her loss of Ikuo. I think the married life begins for Yumiko
and Tamio after the end of the movie. At the end of the movie, Yumiko has
reached the starting point. But that’s another story.
iW: How do you think “Maborosi” will be received by American audiences used
To more blunt fare such as Hollywood films?
Kore-Eda: Fast cutting, loud music, blood spewing everywhere and gunshots
permeating the scenes does not necessarily make for a shocking movie. For me,
a story about a family by John Cassavetes or a story about factory workers by
Ken Loach was [sic] far more shocking than “Pulp Fiction“. Most of the Japanese
audiences only see Hollywood blockbusters, so the situation isn’t that
different from the States. But I believe that people who will feel something
for “Maborosi” and begin to think because of the film exist everywhere
regardless of religion, nationality or the state of the film industry in
iW: Are you excited about your film having a theatrical run in America?
Kore-Eda: Of course, I am ecstatic about the American release. I look forward to
hearing how the audience there receives my film. I love Samurai films, Yakuza
films and animation, but it would be nice if people there realized through my
film that that’s not all that’s being made in Japan.
iW: What are your plans for the future?
Kore-Eda: Right now, I’m finishing up a documentary for television. The subject is memory. Next year, I am planning to start working on my next film. I am going to work hard in hopes that it too will be released in the States. Phew…..