Dialog Vision

A film tip by Kalle Somnitz, Filmkunstkinos Düsseldorf

Naomi Kawase has always understood how to work up Japanese customs and traditions in her films (»Cherry Blossoms and Red Beans«) in such a way that we Westerners find easy access. This has made her a darling of international festivals. But in her new film, it’s the other way around. Starring Juliette Binoche, a European woman comes to Japan to search the forests of the Yoshino Mountains for a mysterious plant said to possess unique healing powers. She discovers a culture based on mysterious traditions and prophecies.

To get a feel for the film, the entire team spent six weeks living in the forest. »We were always in the middle of nature, we had a Japanese cook, so we were able to absorb the environment and interact with nature,« Juliette Binoche told the San Sebastian film festival. For her, this way of life was in stark contrast to her other life: »We are used to living in an environment where everything was built by people for people. In this forest, man has hardly built anything. So the actors are forced to relate to nature. This is exactly the process the director was interested in, patiently observing it and incorporating it into her film.«

Kawase permanently confronted her protagonists with nature and centuries-old customs. Juliette Binoche plays Jeanne, a Frenchwoman who, on her expedition, meets Tomo (Masatoshi Nagase), a hermit who calls the woods home. With him, she goes in search of a mysterious plant that blooms only every 997 years and is a harbinger of great change. While Jeanne’s interest is more biological, Tomo has long sensed that nature is in upheaval. They find shelter with an old woman who claims to have been born 997 years ago – on the day when the medicinal herb bloomed for the last time.

Together they search not only for the plant, but also for its secret, a search for the meaning and the cycle of life, which also leads them into the past and to fundamental questions of human existence.

Vision (Die Blüte des Einklangs)
Japan, France 2018 – San Sebastian 2018 – Directed by Naomi Kawase. With Juliette Binoche, Masatoshi Nagase, Takanori Iwata a.o.