Hur Jin-Ho on '외출' ('April Snow')
A lot of the critics hated it, but Hur Jin-Ho doesn't care. His new film '외출' ('April Snow') is ready to unleash its power on the Korean box office, after storming through the pre-order sales all week long. This is an edited, spoiler free version of two different interviews Director Hur took with nKino and Film2.0. Here's the most interesting snippets:
Press: Finally 'April Snow' is out. How do you feel?
Director Hur Jin-Ho: There's still things to fix, so it doesn't feel like I completed anything.
Press: Things to fix?
Hur: Sound or other small details need to be adjusted. There's scenes where certain sounds didn't come out as I remembered, where the dialogue's tone is too loud. They don't fit with the film, so there's no way to leave things as they are, we need to fix them.
Press: Which part of the script attracted your attention the most?
Hur: 'A man and a woman riding in the same car suffer an accident in a small town in the country. The moment they hear the news, their spouses [the two leads] rush to the scene, they meet, and an affair builds up from there.' That's all I got from the script, the film's content is actually different. [edited for spoilers]
Press: What did you want to convey with the title '외출' (outing, going out)?
Hur: The word holds different meanings. You could be going out of the city, going to an alien, small town in the country; you could also go out of the kind of world you believed in [trusting your partner, being faithful, etc.]. But translating it in foreign languages, it didn't evoke the same feelings. So we went with 'April Snow,' because the translation had a nice feeling with the tone of the film.
Press: I've heard you shot the sex scene for 9 hours. What was the most difficult thing, taking that long to film?
Hur: This was a first for me, and for Son Ye-Jin, but it wasn't really hard shooting for 9 hours. It's just that we shot it for a long time, thinking of splitting it into two scenes, so we thought long and hard what kind of meaning we wanted to convey with that scene.
Press: There's this common view that Bae Yong-Joon basically reprises most of his image traits from the past in this film.
Hur: That's because he can't help but use his 10 years acting experience acting in his film. I don't watch TV too often, so honestly I don't know. More than showing again traits of Bae's past image and acting, I just hoped people accepted the fact that Bae is simply showing what's inside him while he acts. It's obvious you couldn't perfectly change him, and it wasn't any particular intention on my part either. I mean, why should you throw away 10 years of work? Bae surprised me in many scenes. The scene where he cries looking at the photos on his digital camera, while drinking in his motel room; crying in the car after the funeral... that's not easy to act at all. I'd like people to observe Bae's acting without preconceptions. His acting is real, he worked hard to act in a honest way. [...]
Press: And Son Ye-Jin?
Hur: She was a little different from Bae. I asked powerful acting from him, but I wanted acting that carried a lot of feeling from her. I asked her to change according to the feeling of the different scenes, and that's what she gave me. I hope you'll strip yourself from preconceptions as well, I think her efforts will show strongly in the film.
Press: You wanted to distance yourself from your previous films with 'April Snow.' Do you think it's really different?
Hur: I wanted to say it's different, I planned to make it so, but what came out wasn't (laughs). Of course I didn't create the film on my own, I just used an idea [script] from someone else, but I put my own personal touch into making it. I thought about having different set up and locations, but it's true that you can find similar scenes in my past films.
Press: Some critic mentioned how 'the reason why Hur Jin-Ho films are never successful at the box office is because they're melodramas about men at heart.' In other words, men aren't known for being interested in melodramas about men. Do you agree with that?
Hur: I don't know about that (laughs). My previous film '봄날은 간다' ('One Fine Spring Day') might start from a man's point of view, but saying it subscribes to the rules of male-centered melodramas is a little hard.
Press: It's a slightly different story, but this film, compared to your previous works, seem to focus even more on feelings. Those feelings of crying, touching, the camera getting close to the actors, that is.
Hur: Why do you people always have to talk about my 'previous works'? I mean, it's been four years since my last film. Of course you might think of 'April Snow' as an extension of my past work, but that wasn't my intention You keep having those preconceptions, saying 'that time you did that, why did you do it that way this time?' It doesn't really help you when watching the film, it even becomes an hindrance. It's the same with Bae Yong-Joon. We didn't pick him based on his status vis-a-vis the so called 'Korean Wave.' Looking at the film as if it were a '2 hour long Bae Yong-Joon commercial,' aren't you people embarrassed? More than getting angry, I feel a little embarrassed, to tell you the truth. I knew preconceptions existed, but to this extent? Never even imagined that.