A building is on fire. we don't know why. A principal in an elementary school takes a child to the grocery store. we don't know why. A student fights with a classmate, leading to a messy fight with a teacher. we don't know why.
Beast is a return to form for veteran director and king of heartbreak Hirokazu Kore-eda, who also directed Nobody knows, Brokerand a 2018 Oscar nominee Shoplifters. In his new film, the director contrasts the curiosity of childhood with the assumptions of adulthood. Because inside Beastunderstanding why someone would light a dead cat may seem complicated, but wanting to know what happens after we die is a fairly simple question.
I had the chance to speak with Hirokazu Kore-eda earlier this week, and we discussed the importance of world-building for his films, how to find the emotional climax of a story, and why he's so uncomfortable with strong male leads.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
There is something interesting about how Beast είναι δομημένο? σε τρεις πράξεις, μοιάζει σχεδόν επεισοδιακό. Ο σεναριογράφος, Yuji Sakamoto, έχει γράψει κυρίως για την τηλεόραση. Αυτό άλλαξε τον τρόπο που προσεγγίσατε τη σκηνοθεσία αυτής της ταινίας;
Many viewers of this film compare it to that of Akira Kurosawa Rashomon, and I think that might be a bit wrong. But when I've seen some of Mr. Sakamoto's TV series, for example, from episode one to four, it's told from the female point of view, and then from episode five onwards, it's told from the male point of view. It thus changes the point of view. So when I read this script, I thought, "This is similar to what he's done in TV series."
You wrap up a lot of the thematic threads in the third act and that's where you land the emotional moments as well. When you're directing, how do you know when it's the right moment to pack that emotional punch for the viewer?
When I read the script, I thought the emotional climax was in the room musicς όπου ο διευθυντής και ο πρωταγωνιστής παίζουν μουσική μαζί. Αλλά στη συνέχεια, καθώς γύρισα την ταινία, αυτό δεν ήταν πραγματικά στο σενάριο. Είναι μια στιγμή που η μητέρα και η δασκάλα ψάχνουν για τα αγόρια και σκουπίζουν τη λάσπη στο εγκαταλελειμμένο βαγόνι του τρένου. Σκέφτηκα λοιπόν ότι αυτός ήταν a άλλος πολύ κινηματογραφικός τρόπος να δείξω την κορύφωση από την πλευρά των ενηλίκων. Καθώς γυρίζω την ταινία, μερικές φορές ανακαλύπτω πού μπορεί να βρίσκεται μια συναισθηματική σκηνή. Και το κάνω αυτό ενώ το γυρίζω επί τόπου, ας το πω έτσι, για να βρω αυτό το νόημα.
It's that first moment in the third act where Yori Hoshikawa (Hinata Hiiragi) is being bullied and Minato Mugino (Soya Kurokawa) comes to his aid. That's where I felt it first. And then everything after is just as devastating.
As I initially read the explwork/labour of the plot, of course, was very interesting and I saw that Mr. Sakamoto clearly showed what he meant and that what was really important was the world of the children they had created. So I put all my energy into trying to create this world of children.
The characters in Beast — young and old — all share this conflicting sense of shame. When you were working on set with these actors, did you find yourself giving different types of direction to embody that feeling?
The actors who played the teacher and principal have long been in the stable of actors who have played in Mr. Sakamoto's TV dramas. So they really know what he's trying to express and how to express it. They knew much better than I did how to do that, so I wasn't worried about it. They already had the answers inside of them.
For the children, για τα αγόρια, τους έλεγα επανειλημμένα «Μην δείχνετε τη συγκίνησή σας. Δείξτε τι κρύβετε. Σκεφτείτε τι δεν θέλετε να ξέρουν οι άλλοι για εσάς και πώς θα ενεργούσατε με αυτόν τον τρόπο». Αυτό τους είπα να κάνουν. Νομίζω ότι έκαναν πολύ καλή δουλειά που το έκαναν.
For the children, for the boys, I repeatedly told them “Don't show your emotion. Show what you're hiding."
Many of your films, to me, felt strange in nature – if not in story. Beast it felt like one of your more direct attempts to navigate that discourse. Can you talk about how you approached this?
When you say you thought my films were queer in nature, what aspect do you mean? How did you feel about that?
When I think of the American movies I've seen. there is this performance of masculinity that feels toxic. But in all your work, for example in Broker, Shoplifters, Nobody knows — There is this softness in all the characters. They feel human.
I think you're asking how I see human relationships, and you mentioned the strong male figure in American movies, but that's not something I've experienced. It's not what I grew up with. So it's very hard for me to identify with a strong male type figure and I'm really not comfortable with a strong male lead. So that's probably why they don't show up.