Kazuo Ishiguro signs a story about the greatness of small lives with ‘Living’

VALENCIA. Shortly after premiering his masterpiece Ran (1986), Japanese director Akira Kurosawa came to London to give a talk. Many of his film devotees had no place in the audience, but not a young British writer of Japanese origin who had grown up dazzled by his film. Live (1952). This story about a City Hall official who turns his monotonous existence upside down when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer had been a revelation for Kazuo Ishiguro (Nagasaki, 1954), who had been impressed by his humanism and his existential depth. .

“His message was very powerful, because it was a far cry from Hollywood movies, where they insist that if you try hard enough, you can become a superstar, become the president, or turn your life around by doing something fantastic that hordes of people will applaud in the audience. street or in a stadium. I expected, instead, that my existence would be small. I do not come from an artistic family background. But Kurosawa’s film told us that you could make the best of your days. There are chances that you don’t receive the recognition you deserve, that someone else receives it in your place or that you are forgotten, but those are not the reasons that should drive you, nor the amount of people who praise you. The important thing in this simple world that you inhabit is that you live your life to the best of your ability”, reasons the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature.

The author of books like Clara and the sun y the inconsolable He has always conducted himself with that attitude. Which is ironic if you go through his biography. The interview takes place at the San Sebastian Festival after his work as a jury at the Venice Mostra. The entity of his work does not invalidate the message of Live. For years, Ishiguro has wished that someone would take the source material and transplant the story to England. Since nobody decided, he himself has adapted it to transmit his concept to another generation.

The film is titled Living and it has been embraced with enthusiasm by all the film shows where it has landed. It will be available on the Filmin platform from April 7, but this whole week, Cinestudio d’Or, gives you the opportunity to see it on the big screen. “My intention was not to redo Kurosawa’s original film, but to marry the source material with aspects of British society and the English way of life. A set of values ​​that disappeared after World War II and are included in the figure of the gentleman”, explains the scriptwriter.

In his version, Nighy gives life to a veteran civil servant from the fifties who leads an inane life, mired in a routine bureaucracy. When a deadly illness is reported to him, he empties his savings account to move to the coast and riot as he did not in his youth. But the nightlife doesn’t satisfy his need to make sense of his last days. It will be the contagious vitality of a young employee in her office played by Aimee Lou Wood -known for her participation in the Netflix series Sex Education-the one that encourages him to put all his effort into making those around him happy.

The film, directed by the South African director Oliver Hermanus, has a melancholic residue and an elegance that invoke another era of audiovisuals. “Producer Stephen Woolley and I share a passion for a brand of British cinema that existed from the late 1930s to the late 1940s. There are wonderful films, such as the latest Alfred Hitchcock films shot in Great Britain, in the case of the man that knew too much (1934), and the films of Carol Reed, Anthony Asquith, Jack Cardiff, Basil Dearden and the tandem The Archers, made up of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It was the last time that British cinema had the self-confidence to cultivate a style that was its own”, reviews the novelist, who points out how that confidence also transferred to the behavior and appearance of the actors. Not since 1949 have we seen a character like Michael Redgrave’s in alarm in the express (Alfred Hitchcock, 1938), comfortable in his skin and in his way of joking. “From then on, a new generation of performers emerged, like Michael Caine and Sean Connery, who are great actors, but their way of portraying a heroic figure changes. They Americanized.”

Ishiguro, whose emphasis on memory, time and self-deception was highlighted by the Swedish Academy, already outlined that dignified and noble male figure in one of his best books, The remains of the day adapted to the big screen in 1993 by James Ivory, with Anthony Hopkins in the role of a butler who prioritizes rigor and obedience in his work over his feelings.

“That condition is a universal metaphor, not just relevant to the people of my country. Everyone, women and men, share the fear of emotions, the need to control a world that is very difficult to control. Your universe may be falling apart, but you cling to a rigid routine and poise. that condition of Englishness it has to do with a sense of humor, with dignity, with euphemism, with feeling part of a bigger nation, even if you are someone quite insignificant within it. But especially, the way in which you face very emotionally complicated situations, how you ignore them or face them with stoicism and resignation”, sums up the author of Never leave me, also adapted to the cinema. In this case by Mark Romanek in 2010 and with Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley as the leading triangle of this science fiction story.

Ishiguro did not sign the script on either occasion. He refuses, in fact, to adapt any of his books for film. He shares that writing a novel takes five years of dedication and when he finishes it, he turns the page and prefers to do something new. “I also think that it is better that a different person review the writing, because to make a good film you have to be relentless with the original material.” He has signed, on the other hand, the scripts of the films The saddest music in the world (Guy Maddin, 2003) y the russian countess (James Ivory, 2005). Also the lyrics of numerous songs by the Anglo-American jazz singer Stacey Kent. Her professional relationship dates back to 2007, the year the album was released. Breakfast On The Morning Train.

“The songs last two or three minutes and the main objective is to make them last in the listener’s head. If you listen to a song and at the end you forget about it, it’s not good. A song has to be like a virus, it has to penetrate a person and stay with him for the rest of his life. Every time something terrible or happy happens to you, a specific song rises to the surface because it has become something important to you, ”she values.

His work as a lyricist preceded that of a novelist, and that beginning has marked his fiction writing. “Today, there are many kinds of creative writing. All of them invariably talk about how to keep readers’ attention, but what is not discussed is how to create something that will stay in people’s memories for years. That has always been my priority, how to write something that lives on, how to bewitch people with a book or a movie”. A self-confessed movie buff, he is baffled when a very absorbing film disappears from his thoughts two days later. He distinguishes, therefore, between entertainment and transcendence. “Fun has its value, of course, but I still abide by the priorities of a lyricist, trying to be part of people’s emotions and memories. I hope that Living obsessed the audience, because Kurosawa’s film did that when I was very young with me.”