Revealed at the end of the 1990s at the international Cure and known for its horror films, Kiyoshi Kurosawa has been regularly conducted back-and-forth between the genres. In this case, his last film was released in France To the other shore was a very nice melodrama fantastic. With The Secret of the dark room, Kurosawa remains in the in-between, in a thriller of a sophisticated worn by Tahar Rahim, Constance Rousseau and Olivier Gourmet. Just after going to the Festival of Gérardmer that a retrospective of his work, it is in Lyon that we were able to meet with the nippon during a press conference, accompanied by his main actor. – Be careful, it is best to have already seen the movie before reading this interview.
Our critique of The Secret of the dark room
Why have you chosen France to shoot the first film outside of Japan and why have you chosen Tahar Rahim as main actor ?
– Kyoshi Kurosawa : film in France, it is like a destiny for me. The first time my films were shown at the festival, it was here. (in 1999 at the Directors ‘ Fortnight at Cannes for Charisma, ed) little by Little, I had a closer relationship with France. I’m realizing while writing The Secret of the Dark Room When the production started, I immediately thought of Tahar. We had already met at the asian film Festival of Deauville in 2012. He is an actor that has many facets. His character is not simple, it hesitates a lot before making a choice.And then it takes trust in him and becomes active. It is very pure, and is trying to advance his relationship with Mary. For a character as complex, I will not be able to imagine someone other than him. He has played his role to perfection.
Is it that it was difficult to turn with a european team, how it has influenced your working method ?
– K. K. : Everything is done through the use of translators, and the French team did their best to do what I wanted. I have always wanted to turn to the stranger, and I was happy to do it in France, but I do not think that here we wanted to turn with a japanese director, it surprised me. Our relationship was very fluid.
During the seven months spent in France, that is-what you most missed in Japan ?
– K. K. : I lack Nothing when I’m shooting. And it was not so long as to it. But as soon as we had finished, I had a free week, and I was eager to return home.
Tahar Rahim, did you know the work of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and how have you prepared for this role ?
– Tahar Rahim : I knew his cinema, thanks to the university where I had studied his films, in particular Cure. Then I discovered the rest of his work, and I have to say that Retribution is one of my favorite movies.
This is the first time that I played a role which I do not identify specifically. Jean is a character simple enough that we do not know the past, intentionally. I see it as a carnal body blank that goes as the story is fill of the fantastic, the unreal and the real, and be contaminated by this house and by the people who live there.
Why have you chosen Grégoire Hertzel to the composition, and what indications have you been given ? (He is the composer of the films of Desplechins, among others)
– K. K. : I wanted a music that gives a mood for French. I wanted also to work with an orchestra, acoustic, and so I chose Grégoire Hertzel. I wanted something very classic, but it is closer to the compositions of Bernard Hermann, and I liked that. Perhaps this is what will make my film very good.
Tahar Rahim, you have to play a character who doubts the existence of the character of Mary, while the actress is well and good, in what state of mind do you approach this relationship ?
– T. A. : John is the character ordinary of the film, and I wondered how and why he fell in love of Mary. I saw this movie as a falling of dominoes : each situation leads to another and so on. Little by little, Jean accepts the unreal, but I didn’t know why. We discussed it with Kiyoshi and it was able to give a reason for this story to continue and that the character remains in denial. In fact, it is the physical contact back in the unreal. Each time John puts in doubt the reality, Mary clung to him, takes his hand. I needed this answer so that I can play.
The moral ambiguity of your character you a-t-elle plu ?
– T. R. : The ambiguity reinforces the tension that we wanted to spend. But John is not venal. As anyone who has a way to earn a lot of money without doing evil, he is tempted, but he also does it out of love. It is an opportunist, but he is not selfish. Of course, what he does is not very clean !
How do you see the direction of the actors ?
– K. K. : in France or Japan, I have no idea how will be my characters. It is by seeing the role of John is played by Tahar that I discovered it.
– T. R. : I have the impression he likes to see something is to embody in the character through the actors. There is a certain amount of freedom that he leaves us so that we can build the character, that he discovered on the shoot as a spectator.
Y-a-t-he one of the characters which you feel the closest ?
– K. K. : In writing the film, I was identifying with John, despite the age difference and nationality. I also love the character of Stefan, but I don’t want to make the same mistakes and become like him.
In your previous films, death is a source of fear. But you go to something more peaceful.
– K. K. : It is true that my films are in the genre of horror, but I also wanted to represent other feelings with the ghosts, make them more human somehow. Maybe is it because I’m getting older. But if you feel other feelings but fear, then I would be really happy.
Your film could be seen as a film only on the look. The characters are caught in the gaze of others, but you also play with the eye of the beholder, and each of your actors has a particular. What is the importance of the gaze ?
– K. K. : turning this movie, I had the impression to give a lot of importance to the look. I realized that the French really have eye very large compared to the asian. The other way of looking at people is different, the expressions that one sends and one receives are different. It was very fun to see how the actors have used their gaze in the film. In Japan, we do not look at people intently, while on the shoot, the way that had Tahar to look at me, I had always been impressed.
Is it that the ghosts in “The Secret of the Black Room” are the same as in your japanese films, have they the same meaning ?
– K. K. : It depends on what ghosts you’re talking about. The character of the mother is a scary ghost. It is this kind that we encounter in the films of the horrors of traditional japanese and everywhere else. Here, the character of Mary becomes a ghost during the movie, and this helps to strengthen the dramatic effect. This way of representing the ghost was a challenge for me, it is not common in the horror of japan.
What is the relationship in this film between the photograph, the ghosts and the cinema ?
– K. K. : When you take a picture or when one films, what one has on arrival is much closer to a ghost than a human being. We have something that belongs to the past. Even if the person is still alive, we can’t know from our recording if it is even, it oscillates between the two. As well, in the movies, the characters can all be seen as ghosts. The past and the present are closely linked. The present of the filming becomes the past of the moment of the projection. In the same way, the life and death mingle in my films.
Each of the characters in the film has a vision of the reality. What is your and what is the link between reality and cinema ?
– K. K. : The film is in an in-between between the real and the unreal, but it is in this way that there is. When I film, I did not save the reality. And in fact, the film is in another reality. But by looking at it, it becomes real. It is difficult to ask this is unreal because everything that we have filmed there. For example, Mary loses her life but remains alive for John. It is not known if it is real or unreal, but one has the impression of the real because Constance Rousseau and Tahar Rahim exist. From this angle, we can’t imagine that a ghost can touch us. This is only possible at the cinema.
Is it that you’re afraid to die ?
– K. K. : I can’t really say that I feel fear. Of course, I question myself because I don’t know what he’s after. Death is not simply frightening. If I had to revisit a deceased friend, I shall be delighted to see even a ghost. But rather than be afraid of death, I think it is the way in which this will happen that scare us. Will I die peacefully or by suffering ?
Interview by Alexander Léaud