Thirst: Park Chan-wook
Established Korean director Park Chan-wook has made an international leap with his first Western funded film, Thirst, which follows a vampire priest struggling with his newfound desire for blood. Famous for his shocking approach to storytelling, Park isn’t afraid to explore extreme narratives. We sat down with the director to talk controversy, faith and fangs...
LOVEFiLM: Where did the idea for Thirst come from and why has it taken such a long time to come into fruition?
Park Chan-wook: I had made two very detailed sequences 10 years ago. The first was a priest becoming a vampire and the second depicted how the priest’s love turns a woman into a vampire. I was very detailed and still most of those ideas remain in the film.
After I created those sequences there was a gap between the stories. At one point the story is actually very different from now. While writing I encountered Therese Raquin by Emile Zola. After I read that novel I felt it completed the puzzle.
LF: And are vampires a mythology you’ve always had an interest in, or did they catch your attention recently?
PCW: When I started thinking about the film the main character was a priest not a vampire, and when I was thinking about ideas for the film, it was more than 10 years ago. I knew that I wouldn’t make a film where the priest does something good and goes to heaven (laughs), so I wanted to put him through tests. I thought what tests can I put him through? He could fall under some spell and start shooting people or he could transform into some evil being, even though he didn’t intend to. So I wanted to explore how he would react after he had transformed and what he would think about God, and explore the guilt he would feel.
LF: Were the shocking scenes in the film intentional?
PCW: If someone wants to make a film about how love is very important, how the power of love is great, then that person might create a kissing scene or a sensual scene. But I wanted to show how pain is humanity and how violence is humanity. It was very necessary to show the emotion in the story through these themes.
LF: Thirst is the first Korean film to be filmed with U.S money. Do you see this as a testimony to your success?
PCW: It is true that I am a very well known director in Korea and I always hire the top actors in Korea, but still my films explore very controversial subjects through extreme expression. So when Universal said they wanted to invest in the film that reassured Korean investors. My content is always on the edge and I work with distributors who have good quality film.
LF: Which films have inspired your work?
PCW: When I was at primary school I was such a huge James Bond fan, it left me with such an impression. When I recall those films now, I draw on them to make my expression as a film director. My family used to love watching films together and when we watched Vertigo I decided I wanted to be a director.Helen Cowley
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