[Herald Interview] Park Chan-wook creates love movie ‘Decision to Leave’ without these three little words

Park Chan-wook (CJ ENM)

Cannes-winning Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave” is a romance movie. However, the protagonists never pronounce these three little words: I love you.

“I wanted to create a silent film. I don’t mean that there are few lines. In fact, the lines are quite long. They just don’t directly say ‘I love you’ and express their feelings,” Park said during an interview with a panel of reporters via Zoom on Monday.

Although we live in a time when people aren’t shy about expressing their thoughts and feelings, Park thinks audiences would still be interested in watching stories with characters trying to hide their emotions.

“The way people my age or maybe the way Asian people hide their emotions is considered old fashioned these days. But I think it can also appeal to even young audiences,” Park said. “Of course, in order to tell a story, they (the protagonists) cannot keep it (the emotions) entirely to themselves. It will show how they secretly express it, how they try to hide it, but it’s so visible to the public.

In “Decision to Leave”, Hye-jun, a hardworking detective, investigates a suspicious death that occurred on a mountain. He comes to suspect that the deceased’s wife, the mysterious Seo-rae (Tang Wei), is involved in the crime. As Hye-jun investigates Seo-rae, he becomes attracted to her.

One of the notable factors that differentiates Park’s new film from his previous works is how he used digital devices such as smartphones and smartwatches as an important communication tool between the protagonists. The director said he put a lot of thought into making the film this way.

“At first, I had concerns because there were too many scenes with text messages. It was impossible to show the lives of people living in a modern society without them, so I decided to accept that we had to use them. Park said, “For example, if we’re using paper to show documents, our art team can do a lot of things, but the audience would think they can just use the iPad.”

Once he decided to incorporate digital devices into the film, he began thinking about how best to present them as an important part of the film and came up with scenes in which the audience sees the protagonists from the point of view of the smartphone held in the protagonists. ‘ hands.

“I created these scenes because when we’re talking on the phone, we’re not talking on the device. We’re thinking about the person on the other side,” he explained.

The concept of duality, which is presented repeatedly across several scenes, is one of the most talked about elements of Park’s new film.

In Seo-rae’s house, the wallpaper features patterns that can resemble both ocean waves and mountain peaks. The color of Seo-rae’s dress confuses Detective Hye-jun as it sometimes looks green but also blue.

Park Chan-wook (CJ ENM)

Park Chan-wook (CJ ENM)

Park explained that this concept also applies to character settings.

“Seo-rae sometimes looks like a widow, left without anyone, and sometimes like a murderer. It’s hard to define,” Park said.

Some viewers said it’s a movie that should be watched multiple times to not miss the many subtle details. But for others, it can also mean that the film is difficult to understand.

Park said he never intended to create a confusing work for the public.

“I try to make a movie that’s more entertaining when watched over and over again, but never a movie that audiences can’t understand when they watch it for the first time. Of course, they had to pay attention They can’t play with their phone and still expect to understand the movie, but if they focus on the movie, they would understand it with no problem,” Park said.

Although he too is under pressure to create box office hits, the director said he was unwilling to change his style just to sell more tickets.

“I just do my best. Even if I want to, I can’t create movies like Choi Dong-hoon or Ryoo Seung-wan,” he said. Both Choi and Ryoo have made movies that have each sold over 10 million tickets here, a coveted threshold at which the films are considered huge hits. “Assassination” (2015) by Choi attracted 12.9 million and 12.7 million respectively.

On set, director Park feels it’s important to make sure the staff and performers are all on the same page.

That’s one of the reasons he creates detailed storyboards with a screenwriter, screenwriter, and art director before filming begins.

“First of all, we can save a lot of money doing this. But more importantly, it can provide an overview for everyone on board. They will know what to expect and can become more active. If it’s all in the head of the director, everyone will have a hard time not knowing what he’s doing.

At the end of the interview, Park was asked what motivates him to stay creative and keep creating something new. Park responded by saying that he often compares himself to masters of different fields.

Park Chan-wook (center) talks to the two protagonists Tang Wei and Park Hye-il on the set of

Park Chan-wook (center) talks to the two protagonists Tang Wei and Park Hye-il on the set of “Decision to Leave”. (CJ ENM)

“I’m not just talking about the masters of cinema. For example, I compare myself to composer Lee Bong-jo. I strive to reach the artistic level of his works and the effort he puts into it,” he said.

Lee is the composer of the old Korean song “Mist”, which was used as the theme song in “Decision to Leave”.

Park’s new movie is now in local theaters.

By Song Seung-hyun ([email protected])

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