Bunraku Exclusive report: a co-producer's view
The article below comes from a first-hand report which was set up exclusively for this blog at the expense of time by a hard-working academic at the
Bunraku is reported as having a production team of nine people, one of the three co-producers being Alex McDowell, better known as a designer of major Hollywood successes such as Minority Report, The Terminal and Fight Club.
Alex McDowell was invited to give the 2009 Glimcher Lecture at the
To what degree did you feel that the production should stick to real aspects of traditional Japanese theatre, such as bunraku, and were you influenced by what you thought Western audiences would recognize as authentic?
Alex McDowell’s reply indicated that the “feel” of Bunraku would be a Samurai cowboy movie aiming for the style of 300. The look would be deliberately stylized, with characters appearing sometimes as though their fabric was on a very small scale and with the sets sometimes seeming to be made of folded paper.
Alex explained that, in Bunraku, he was using the idea that the movement in the camera-work should dictate the set, rather than the set-design in any way limiting the action. So, if a character performed a kick which needed a physical context, such as a wall, that wall would be provided in the design. In this way, the actors should have a total freedom of space in which to work and to give of their best.
Alex’s special value to Bunraku as a salesman has been front-loaded: the pre-visual content (image and media to show how the production would look and could work) that he made to show during the
Alex is also an articulate and enthusiastic advocate for the intelligence which his craft can bring to the industry. He is convincing in his arguments that work done beforehand in determining the necessary narrative content of a set (why physical things are there in both historical and functional terms) is a key component of the integrity of the finished work and a key component of a movie’s success in entertaining, intriguing and captivating its audience.