Park Chan-wook, filmmaker: "I like characters who struggle to survive"

Park Chan-wook, filmmaker: “I like characters who struggle to survive”

Presented in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the new feature film by Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave, received the Best Director Award. The Korean filmmaker talks about the creation of this film.

What motivated the desire to tell this story?

The origin of the film is a well-known Korean love song, Misty (“Mist”), performed by singer Jung Hoon-hee, whom I listened to a lot when I was young. One day, I heard it on YouTube, telling myself that it was really very beautiful. The algorithms then offered me the same song, performed this time by my favorite singer, Song Chang-sik. I didn’t know he took it back. It gave me the idea of ​​a film that would start with the song performed by the original singer, and in the end by him. To match the title of this one, the film had to take place in a foggy town. But my original idea did not materialize since I finally preferred a version where the two singers perform this song as a duet.

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When writing the screenplay, did you start from particular situations and moments that you had in mind and around which you wrote the story?

It is first of all the story that was the source of the film. Working with my co-screenwriter Jeong Seo-kyeong, we started with the writing. Initially, I had not yet viewed the film. Sequences and situations came later.

The visual style of the film is remarkable for its elegance. What specific instructions did you give to your director of photography?

It was the first time I worked with him. My previous cinematographer, Chung Chung-hoon, with whom I worked from old boy until Miss, is so requested by Hollywood today that it has become impossible for me to work with him again. With this new cinematographer, Kim Ji-yong, it took some getting used to at first. Creating the storyboard was when we adjusted and got to know each other. At the start of filming, we had to agree again.

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Did you have a very specific idea of ​​the visual style you wanted to adopt?

I cannot define a premeditated style. It was necessary to agree with the director of photography on what was the size of the shots that I requested, that my idea of ​​the close-up correspond to his. I wanted there to be a certain kind of tension in all the shots, all the camera movements. Which, said like that, may seem a bit abstract.

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