Sunday, 11 October 2009

1W4 Tokyo! A Film by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon Ho

Tokyo! is a compilation of 3 short films freely inspired by Tokyo and shot in the heart of the city. ‘Interior Design’, the short by Michel Gondry is briefly the story of a young couple who move to Tokyo in search of a future. Both of them will be drowned in the immensity until the girl, feeling alone, discovers something strange. She starts alternating, an actual hole perforates her bust, she’s in a process of mutation. Her human leg becomes a wooden leg, her arm becomes a wooden arm… she becomes a wooden chair with the ability to switch back to the human mode, she would live in a stranger’s house, the stranger that picked up the chair from the street, without him noticing, disguised in a chair when he’s around and functioning as a human when he leaves.

The poetic of the material is what triggers this little post; flesh to wood then a floating soul that roams in the city, hides in the ‘in betweens’ of the buildings, in the cavities… Just today the idea of a couple was occurring to my mind, I thought how, when you’re around someone you love, you have the tendency to ‘fill the gaps’ in his/her body with your own body, the space between the head and the shoulder would become a space for the other to occupy, you embrace the other’s ‘in betweens’ exactly the same way an annex is adjusted to a building. Michel Gondry’s fairy tale treatment of the theme (man/architecture) generates a sparkle, a phantom chill (to be discussed. The theme suits Melanie’s proposal, a great example for the ghost houses research.

In an interview with the director asked about whether Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ was the main inspiration of the film, Gondry answers: Gabrielle wrote the story. I think that was her friend Sadie who was the main character, who felt more and more useless. Now I know Sadie, and she's very quiet and always feels like she's removed from the scene, from the room. I guess she was complaining about something, and she had this idea that she wished she'd just be a chair. There's something quite self-deprecating about that. My contribution was to make the transformation slow and painful, 'cause in the book it's just sort of a morph, two or three frames. It's not very much Kafka because in "Metamorphosis" the guy wakes up and he's a cockroach. Of course, it's a masterpiece. I always avoided reading it because I'd heard of it too much, but finally I said, "Okay I have to read it," and I just realized how much you get a different idea from what the piece actually is. It's very witty and funny and surprising. Basically, I think the Kafka story takes the most extreme situation and puts it in a normal context. It's genius. This is different. I was mostly thinking of the Polanski film "Repulsion," this sort of slow deterioration. I wanted the audience to not see it coming that she would become a chair. So it starts with a hole in the chest and there are two slots of wood, but it looks like she has lost her heart. It is misleading. The feet are in wood, and I thought about the "Pinocchio" from 1973 by Comencini where they switch back-and-forth between a piece of wood and the real boy's flesh. As a kid when I watched that I was terrified. Like when he tried to cut the log of wood and the log of wood has this little nose and he hears the little boy's voice and he jumps! That was enough to scare me to death.’

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