We tell you what inspired Kogonada while working on the film “After Young”, a meditative sai-fai on memory, national identity and humanity.
21.02.23, 10:46 2023-02-21T10:46:11+03:00
The film slowly immerses the viewer in the multi-layered archives of Young’s memory, while at the same time allowing them to speculate on difficult questions of time, identity, and loss. The pent-up emotions and dialogues coexist with a riot of colours: Kogonada’s concept of “less is more” is once again revealed in full force. The plot takes place against the background of minimalist interiors and music by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Watch this movie soon, it will go to the cinema.
And we, together with the film company A-One, tell you what are the main sources of inspiration for Kogonada.
Kogonada was inspired by the way Hayao Miyazaki integrates nature into his work. The main challenge for After Young was to find a house with a tree growing in the middle, a special house with signs of an ecological crisis, but at the same time futuristic and not too luxurious, because the family is not rich. Sort of like the small but spacious mid-century California modern houses designed by Joseph Eichler.
Fortunately, in the New York suburb of Rockland County there were three Eichler houses, the only three houses built on the East Coast. And one of them was empty.
“We couldn’t contact the owner of the house remotely, so we scoured the area and found him,” says production designer Alexandra Schaller. We couldn’t look inside because the house is designed to be very private, completely enclosed. So we knock on the door. Nobody answered. Then Kogonada said, “I’ll just pull the handle.” And she opened! It was an uninhabited house, a blank canvas for us.” The film crew then obtained permission from the owner and completely renovated the house, preparing it for the 29-day shoot.
“We wanted the tree to become a character in the movie. The choice of wood was very difficult. I visited many gardens and greenhouses to personally meet different plants until we found the right one. And in the end, we didn’t cut it. We plant it and it will live in this house forever,” recalls Schaller.
In Young’s flashback and Micah’s performance, a song plays with the words “I want to be… I want to be like a melody”. This is the song Glide from the 2001 Japanese cult movie All About Lily Chou-Chow. Kogonada had a dream to resurrect the song: “The movie itself is about an Asian teenager who is being bullied. Find solace in this almost mythical singer. He becomes obsessed with her. This song haunted me for a long, long time.” When the director approached singer Mitski about a new version of the song for his film, he discovered that she was also an avid All About Lily Chow Chow fan.
The echo of the pandemic has not gone unnoticed, Kogonada addresses it with an insightful reference to the film Tokyo Tale (1953): “One of the many things I love about Ozu’s Tokyo Tale is that it partly recounts the destruction of the city after the fires. of the Second World War. 100,000 dead. One million homeless. These destructions are not mentioned and we don’t see much of post-war Tokyo. But the film is haunted by a deep sense of loss. This is a ghost story masquerading as a family drama. Our entire world is currently experiencing the trauma of the global crisis. It is in this context that we ask ourselves: where do we find meaning?
Kogonada always had a passage from Percy Walker’s The Moviegoer in his mind, which reminded him of a father struggling to feel connected to the world.
“The search is what anyone would undertake if they were not immersed in the daily routine of their own life. To become aware of the search is to be about something. Not to be about something is to be desperate.”
The spectacular dance scene during the credits is inspired by Yasujiro Ozu’s “Wheat Time” and Zhang Che’s “Five Shaolin War Machines.” In the first, you can see the synchronization of the actions of the members of the same family in daily affairs. Says Kogonada, “I liked the idea of showing the family in harmony, so the dance scene is a literal implementation of this idea.” I saw the second Kogonad when he was a child, and in order to understand the reference, you can turn on the image of Zhang Che from about the third minute.
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