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Japanese director Takashi Miike brought the world premiere of his latest blood fest, As the Gods Will, to the Rome Film Festival, where he was honored with the Maverick Director Award Saturday Night. The director is a regular at the festival, having previously screened The Lesson of the Evil in 2012 and both The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji and Blue Planet Brothers in 2013.
As the Gods Will, based on a popular manga, blends heavy doses of comedy and fear in a high school setting. An evil animated Daruma doll interrupts the everyday humdrum of the school classroom, forcing the students to play a series of children’s games where the penalty for losing is death. “Mangas were once inspired by cinema, and now the opposite is happening,” Miike told reporters earlier in the day. “Japanese filmmakers are looking to mangas now.”
According to Miike, the Daruma dolls used in the film represent qualities in human beings required to advance in life: strength, intelligence and creativity. “All of these elements depend on something that we cannot escape: our fate, chance, destiny or luck,” he said. “That was the underlying theme in the story.”
“But if we decide to summarize all of our existence in one hour and 57 minutes,” he continued, “obviously we have to understand it all amounts to living our lives, meeting someone, moving away from someone and, at the end, our final curtain. And there is always a moment in which we shine.”
Miike is an incredibly prolific director, often making two or three films a year. While talks of his first English-language picture, The Outsider, starring Tom Hardy as a former American prisoner of war who rises in the Yakuza ranks after World War II, have fallen apart, Miike might just yet come to Hollywood.
“We have talked to him about the possibility of a film which might be a possible project,” Miike said of Hardy. However, it won’t be easy to pull together again. “We were talking about a Japanese film that would be released by Hollywood with a Japanese cast,” he said of The Outsider. “One month before shooting was supposed to start, it got canceled. We had gotten quite far.”
With Miike’s reputation as a master of Japanese cinema, it likely won’t be long before Hollywood comes knocking again, with or without Hardy.
Past recipients of the Maverick Director award include Tsui Hark and Walter Hill.
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