Kazuo Ishiguro on his screenplay Living

“My mother had told me the whole story ikiru before I saw it – I remember she was performing various roles once at lunchtime. It was a film that meant a lot to her. So I was prepared for that and it had a big impact on me.”


The Japanese film reminded Ishiguro, then living in the Guildford area of ​​Surrey in the surrounding home boroughs of London, of the British businessmen he would see in the 1960s wearing briefcases and bowler hats on their way to Waterloo station.

“I used to drive these guys to school every morning,” he recalls. “I would wait with you on the platform. I thought at a certain age I would just become one of those people.”

ikiruhowever, conveyed the message that such ordinary life can also be quietly heroic, an influential philosophy evident in Ishiguro’s novels.

However, adapting Kurosawa’s screenplay was no easy task. For example, in the original film, Mr. Watanabe falls in love with a young colleague and even buys her stockings.

In Lifethe superficial sexual infatuation is stripped away and the relationship is clearly defined as the chaste friendship between generations central to the plot as Mr. Williams begs his colleague Miss Harris (Aimee Lou Wood) to teach him “a day alive.” to be “.

Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood in Living.

Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood in Living.Credit:

“I’ve seen too many films over the last 20 years about older men who get a little ‘lascivious’, obsessed with a younger girl who’s effectively within her capabilities,” says Ishiguro, who is more into the young woman’s role wanted agency.

“It’s not an area to go innocently, especially after the whole Weinstein thing and MeToo.”

In ikiruKurosawa’s humor was brutal: Mr. Watanabe sits in the doctor’s office, wide-eyed, while another patient delivers flowery descriptions of the bowel movement, translating the doctor’s assurance that there is no need for surgery as “virtually a death sentence.”

Bill Nighy in a scene from Living, a new adaptation of the classic Japanese film Ikiru.

Bill Nighy in a scene from Living, a new adaptation of the classic Japanese film Ikiru.Credit:

Ishiguro says it was common in Japan at the time for doctors to falsely assure patients with cancer that they were fine. “My mother told me this: Many people of her generation in Japan spent their time wondering if they had cancer.”

Was the desire for politeness and conformity a reaction to the sheer chaos of World War II in both Japan and Britain, and perhaps suppressed emotional expression and the ability to say “I love you” or “I have cancer”?

“If you read the literature or watch films even before World War I, you will still see these qualities in the British and Japanese,” says Ishiguro.

“It has more to do with militaristic societies… the reality of many nations’ existence was based on being able to defend themselves militarily. This kind of society places a lot of value on being able to suppress your emotions.”


Filtered through a dry wry English sensibility, Life becomes the masterclass of understatement while maintaining clarity.

“It’s never easy,” says the doctor who provided Mr. Williams’ terminal diagnosis, to which Bill Nighy only replies, “That’s right.”

Life opens in theaters on March 16th.

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https://www.smh.com.au/culture/movies/a-nobel-prize-and-now-an-oscar-nod-can-kazuo-ishiguro-do-no-wrong-20230306-p5cppv.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Kazuo Ishiguro on his screenplay Living

Jaclyn Diaz

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