Director of Drive My Car Ryusuke Hamaguchi surprised by Oscar, popularity
Drive My Car, the 3-hour-long story of grief, connection and recovery won an Academy Award last month for best international feature film.
Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi says he was surprised by the international popularity of his Oscar-winning film Drive My Car, but attributes it to the universality of the short story by Haruki Murakami on which it is based.
The movie centers on an actor played by Hidetoshi Nishijima who is directing a multilingual production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Still mourning the sudden loss of his wife, the actor, Kafuku, leads the cast in rehearsals in which they sit and read their lines flatly, ingesting the language for days before acting them out.
The 3-hour-long story of grief, connection and recovery won an Academy Award last month for best international feature film.
“Actually I was surprised by how widely this film has been accepted,” Hamaguchi said at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, his first major event since the Oscar.
While attributing its popularity to the universality of Murakami’s story, Hamaguchi said the actors “put it on the screen in a very convincing way, even though I’m sure it was an extremely challenging task for them to embody Haruki Murakami’s worldview.”
On his part, he tried to “show some sort of hope, as Mr. Haruki Murakami does in his novels, so we can feel this character is now OK — the process of loss and coming to terms with it to move on — if not quite a full recovery,” Hamaguchi said.
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The “inner reality” of the characters in the story is both the charm and difficulty of turning Murakami’s story into visuals, Hamaguchi said.
“Describing inner reality … is something movies are not very good at,” Hamaguchi said. So he decided not to trace the written language of the original story. “The more attractive a story is, the harder it is for visuals to surpass the images already formed in the minds of readers,” he said.