«The Internet has brought changes to life, but not to the great questions of the human being»

qKazuo Ishiguro poses yesterday in San Sebastián, where ‘Living’, whose script he signs, is screened at ‘Perlak’. / JAVIER ECHEZARRETA / EFE

kazuo ishiguro

The British Nobel laureate of Japanese origin signs the script for the new version of Akira Kurosawa’s classic ‘Vivir’

Alberto Moyano

The British writer of Japanese origin Kazuo Ishiguro presented this Tuesday at Zinemaldia ‘Living’, a ‘remake’ of Akira Kurosawa’s classic ‘Living’, directed by the South African director Oliver Hermanus in which the Nobel Prize for Literature is the screenwriter. Ishiguro, author of novels adapted to the cinema, such as ‘Never leave me’ or ‘The rest of the day’, considers that «the internet has brought many changes in the way we live, but not to the great questions that being asks itself. human”. And he believes that the war in Ukraine has served to demonstrate that there are things more important than information or data: for example, oil.

– Why update Kurosawa’s classic, but keeping it in a post-war period and without transferring it to the current era?

– It all started with my script, it’s my fault. I was never interested in setting it in Britain today, but the project was to bring the material from Kurosawa’s film, combining it with a way of being British, which is something that begins to disappear from the 60s I refer to that Englishness that the ‘gentleman’ represent, that character. I already worked with this material in my novel ‘The remains of the day’ and it is not about a fascination with the England of a certain time, but that way of being English becomes a metaphor present in universal human nature. Every man and every woman in every part of the world has a part English gentleman. It is a characteristic of the human being.

– So, would the film have changed if it had been set in the present?

– Yes, of course, it would have been different if I had set it today because the main character type no longer exists. And furthermore, when it comes to comparing it with Kurosawa’s film, I find it very interesting to have created a companion film because it allows us to see the two protagonists at the same time and in two post-war societies.

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– Haven’t we learned during the pandemic that we have to live from day to day?

– We did not know there was going to be a pandemic! I don’t know, the audience may have sharpened that idea, but the most important thing for me is to see how the internet and social networks have created a world in which everyone is locked in their existence and it is very difficult to relate to the rest because the way you connect with the world has changed a lot. Oliver (Hermanus) has managed to create a labyrinth of different buildings, which is a metaphor for capitalism in the days of the internet. We are trapped in different worlds and do not understand how we can transcend.

– Has the human being mutated on the back of technological advances and, specifically, in his way of facing death?

– Personally, I don’t think so. The Internet has brought many changes to the way we live, but not to the big questions that human beings ask themselves. When Putin invaded Ukraine we were reminded that all the changes that technology has brought to our lives we see as far less important. We heard that information and data was ‘the new oil’, but after the invasion we realized that oil is ‘the new oil’. And we have seen that those things that we thought we had already left behind are still the important things.

– Since we spoke of that disappeared way of being English, how have you contemplated the funeral splendors of the queen?

– I am not an expert, but I would say that in all the years that I have been in Great Britain I have never seen it as divided as in the last five because the ‘Brexit’ brought many differences to the surface. The queen’s death has finally given the country a chance to come back together after so much bitterness and anger.

– Kurosawa’s film invites you to live, I suppose that is also the intention of this new version.

– Kurosawa’s story inspired me a lot when I was young, as it did many Britons of my generation. The message was that you didn’t have to do something to become famous. You could have a quiet life and still have meaning and be lived to the fullest, even if your existence was relatively mediocre. You don’t have to become a superstar or someone like Steve Jobs. It is very likely that you will not receive recognition, that the world will forget you or that someone else will take the credit for what you have done, but you must be prepared that the sense of success is a very lonely thing. I’ve always liked how lonely that sense of success is at the end of Kurosawa’s film. It’s a very different message from Hollywood movies, where people turn their lives around to choose something great that a lot of people applaud them for. I like the idea of ​​a small, solitary achievement because it’s a much more powerful message.

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«The Internet has brought changes to life, but not to the great questions of the human being»