The 'Suzume’ director explains how the 2011 Japan earthquake influenced his filmmaking

Makoto Shinkai on his inspirations for establishing the tone of „Suzume” and how he approached natural disaster themes in a dialogue Variety is Artisans Screening Series Judge Variety is Chief film critic Peter Debruge and translated by Mikey McNamara.

Shinkai revealed that since „Barbie” and „Oppenheimer” are grouped together as „Barbenheimer”, he expected „Barbie” to have a similar intensity to „Oppenheimer”. Thus, he was surprised at how comedic the film was. But seeing how the film was able to incorporate deep feminist themes within a comedic framework gave her a realization about her own filmmaking: „This is the kind of entertainment I’m trying to create.”

Similarly, while „Suzume” deals with a devastating central theme — the 2011 earthquake that hit eastern Japan — Shinkai said he „didn’t want it to become too dark and heavy a movie” and „wanted to build a foundation.” Entertainment” throughout.

Witnessing the 2011 earthquake was a turning point for Shinkai’s directorship. „Fortunately, I wasn’t a direct victim of the earthquake or tsunami, and of course the effects were still felt in Tokyo. But by the same token, I don’t know if I should continue doing what I was doing because it’s a basic requirement to create animated entertainment during humanitarian efforts,” he said. .

Others on Shinkai’s team quit their jobs to return to their families or help with relief efforts. „After some soul-searching and thinking, creating animation is the only thing I’m really good at and can do. But at the same time, it’s not really good because when I see all this happening in my environment, it’s the only way I can contribute,” he added. .

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He began to think about what could be done in animated films to incorporate this idea of ​​natural disaster. It was first translated into his 2016 film „Your Name,” which serves as an allegory for a meteor that breaks off from a shooting star and creates havoc. At the time, he didn’t want to take a direct approach to addressing the earthquake, given how new the incident was.

“But now that it’s been 12 years since that earthquake, I think I and the movie-going public can be more prepared. , Shinkai said.

For this reason, he can consider „Susume” „12 years in the making.”

While discussing specific aspects of the film, Shinkai stated that several artistic and story choices – such as the chair trying to kiss Souta – allowed the film to retain its lightheartedness despite the heavy subjects.

Shinkai concluded the conversation by reflecting on his beginnings as a filmmaker and his progress since then.

“The strange thing is that I never became a film director. A lot of my previous work, my short films, it was a personal project that I wanted to share with me and my friends, and I made five to 10-minute animations on my own,” he said. „Over 20 years, slowly, every project, more and more people would come together and say, 'Hey I want to work on your film.’ After 20 years, we have come to this meeting.

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