Paris, 2022-04-05 12:32:33. ‘Drive My Car’ director surprised at Oscar win
TOKYO – Japanese director Ryosuke Hamaguchi said he was surprised by the international popularity of his Oscar-winning film “Drive My Car,” but attributed it to the universality of the Haruki Murakami short story on which it is based.
The film focuses on an actor played by Hidetoshi Nishijima who is directing a multilingual production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya”. Still, the actor, Kafuku, in mourning for the sudden loss of his wife, leads the actors into rehearsals where they sit and read their lines emphatically, swallowing the language for days before acting on it.
The 3-hour story of Grief, Connection, and Recovery won an Academy Award last month for Best International Feature Film.
“I was actually surprised at how widely this movie was,” Hamaguchi said at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, his first major event since the Oscars.
While Hamaguchi attributed his popularity to the universality of Murakami’s story, he said the actors “put it on screen in a very compelling way, although I’m sure it was a very difficult task for them to embody Haruki Murakami’s world view.”
For his part, he tried “to show some kind of hope, as Mr. Haruki Murakami does in his novels, so we can feel that this character is now OK — the process of losing and coming to terms with her moving forward — if not fully recovered,” Hamaguchi said.
Hamaguchi said that the “inner reality” of the characters in the story is the charm and difficulty of transforming Murakami’s story into visual images.
“Describing the inner truth… is something that films are not very good at,” Hamaguchi said. So he decided not to follow the written language of the original story. “The more engaging the story, the more difficult it is for the visuals to move beyond the images that have already formed in the minds of the readers,” he said.
Hamaguchi said he decided to imagine the gist of the story – the relationship between Kafuku and his much younger driver Misaki – who also suffered the loss of her mother in a mudslide – which gradually deepens through their conversations in his red-hard friend. One of the few colorful elements in the movie.
Hamaguchi said the film brings together the inner worlds of Murakami and Chekhov and reflects their similarities.
Conversations between Kafuku and Misaki contrast with those of Vanya and Sonya in “Uncle Vanya,” and when Kafuku takes on the role of Vanya during the performance, he realizes his inner words toward recovery.
“So I found ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Uncle Vanya’ intertwined so nicely as if they were translating each other,” Hamaguchi said.
Hamaguchi said he wanted to thank Murakami at the Academy Awards but missed the opportunity because his “thank you” after introducing a long list of actors was misunderstood as the end of his speech.
“I still want to thank Murakami-san and my crew,” he said.
Hamaguchi’s films, which include the anthology “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” released last year, were praised, but he wasn’t widely known in Hollywood before the Best Screenplay award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival drew attention to “Drive My Car.”
Hamaguchi said international audiences now look to Asia as a source of interesting films, and he hopes fellow filmmakers can produce films that can “penetrate the hearts of audiences” and live up to their expectations.
His goals in his next movie? “I just want to say I made one a little better than the previous one,” Hamaguchi said.
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