Takashi Miike talks about making “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai”

Takashi Miike is know for his controversial Japanese filmmaker style. He is know for directing ultra-violent films like “Ichi the Killer” and “Audition”. His last film was the amazing “13 Assassins”, a remake of Eiichi Kudo’s 1963 film. Takashi took some time to answer some questions about his new film “Hara-Kiri” and shooting in 3D.

Q: What was your inspiration for choosing “Hara-Kiri” as your next film?
A: It just so happened that this kind of epic film was my next film after “13 Assassins”. I don’t plan to make only films like this. The touchstone benchmark is quality over quantity. By quality, I mean what kindles your heart or whether or not it makes you feel free as you devote yourself to the filming. Next fall, I will shoot a TV drama for late night television that is ruinously low-budget. But with low-budget works comes an excitement that can only be relished through low-budget.

Q: How do you compare your film to the original from 1962?
A: What excites me about resurrecting this film from the past is being able to feel first-hand the existence of the universal human suffering which “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai” depicts at its core as it transcends time, genres and countries. My new versions share everything in common with the old films yet everything is a little off. Since things like originality or being finicky about some worthless triviality were thrown away a long time ago, one cannot compare two works by lining them up next to each other. They are only connected in tandem as part of the flow of time in which they were created.

Q: Tell us about your experience working with Ebizo Ichikawa and Koji Yakusho? A: Ebizo Ichikawa is the real deal when it comes to being the prize of kabuki. He is the king of traditional performing arts in Japan. He is a man without a net challenging frontiers with a great deal of curiosity. He made the set a fun, stimulating place day after day. I am looking forward to even more exciting things from him. Koji Yakusho is a living treasure in Japanese film. He always seams up the frayed edges in my clumsy directing in an artful way. He is a living treasure of modern Japanese film who leads you into the special world of filmmaking. He always teaches me Japan’s unique virtue of humility. Also, his wife is a lovely lady filled with elegance.

Q: Can you reflect on the film’s music by Ryuichi Sakamoto?
A: From the bottom of my heart, I really appreciated Ryuichi Sakamoto providing such wonderful music. The souls of the characters in the film squeal in the soundtrack. And these sounds aren’t rammed down-your-throat and don’t really come so far forward. His music fills the theater like air with a certain stillness and quietness yet its sureness and authority remain. Ryuichi Sakamoto is an artist who sees through the deception of the essence of 3D.

Q: Can you tell us was your biggest challenge shooting in 3D?
A: Nothing changed for me shooting a movie in 3D. It was the same on set experience as any other film for me. The only difference was that the speed of shooting was slightly slower than normal. All in all, this film will probably be a welcomed development for those who already pursue stereo spatial visuals in the world of 2D via lighting and camera angles. There was no change to my approach other than I was able to go brag to the director shooting at the studio next door and say, “Huh? Yours is flat and level? Ours is bumpy and convexo-concave.”

Q: With 3D being the big craze, what are your expectations for the audience?
A: I would be most pleased if the audience feels that what can be expressed in 2D can also be expressed in 3D. For the people who are not fans of 3D, I hope they will say, “Wow! 3D works.” It would be perfect if older audiences would say, “How interesting the way this film bursts out and sucks me up.” I guess for the next few years this situation will continue where 3D is just one option for making a movie. And the audiences will probably decide and determine what happens after that. I definitely anticipate making more 3D movies. Next, if I have the chance, I want to have things that shouldn’t come out of our bodies be hurled at the audience.

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