Guilty of Romance - Interview with Sion Sono

After Love Exposure and Cold Fish, Guilty of Romance is supposed to be the last part of your "hate" trilogy.  Why did you choose such a topic?
"Hate" is the emotion that includes "Love" the most.  It is the source (origin) of love.  The diabolism seriously believes in God, stronger than ordinary people.  Which means, paradoxically speaking, "Satanists" believe in God and "Haters" are more aware of love.  Considering that I am a "Hater", I believe this to be completely personal.  The hate inside me is too strong, and the film is my concession speech towards love, because I was exhausted from hating.

Your movies often focus on female characters, but Guilty of Romance seems to be the most romantic of your films.  Was this on purpose?
No, I have never imagined it like this.  I have modified the script repeatedly during the shooting, and every time I made a change, starting from a negative mood, it gradually became more positive.  As a result, there is only love towards women left in the movie.  I thought that I emphasized individually in comparing women's situations and states of each sequence.  Just like those paintings of Kandinsky.  I have interviewed working women - especially prostitutes or women who are cheating and used them for the script.  I was careful to handle women's sensitive and delicate feelings, and convince myself not to change them conveniently to a man's perspective.

Many of your films are dealing with social rules, or religion.  In Guilty of Romance, sex is quite like a cult, with rules to obey.  Was it a way to contrast with many Japanese filmmakers who were making analogies between sex and politics or anarchy?
In recent Japanese films, it is obvious not to depict any social problems.  They avoid to mention sex nor politics.  In that sense, I don't have any conscious of the recent Japanese movies.  Actually, I found my film in the pornography shelf at some video stores.  For instance, Strange Circus is considered as AV (Adult Video) genre.  It is hopeless.

What is more difficult for you : to shoot a sex scene or a violent one?
Sex scenes are more difficult for me.  It is difficult to perfectly match the look of a person doing intercourse and the person's feelings.

Guilty of Romance could in some ways be linked to the Roman Porno genre.  Even more as it is co-produced by Nikkatsu.  Were any of their films influencing this one?
Nikkatsu Roman Porn produced many talented filmmakers and surely it was the gateway to successful directors..  It certainly influenced my time of adolescence, so how can i escape from that?  Naturally, the essence is in me.

As most of your films, Guilty of Romance deal with damaged individuals...
Because I see "damaged individuals" as kind human beings who deserve love.  They are totally free, more than anybody else.  If they look lame alive, that's because they are looking for freedom, more than anyone else.

Your amazing sense of art direction is now well-known.  Especially the use of colours.  Could you explain how you worked with that in Guilty of Romance: does each colour you used in that film have a specific meaning to you?
The splattered PINK ball is the colour of human instinct.  Besides, it is the colour of desire, not praised, but hidden behind the veil, flowing like melting iron.  Another colour is BLACK.  Black harmonises with pink.  There is a line, "Darkness is thicker than shadows".  Indeed, for people who have shadows, BLACK is a colour that feels like heaven.  Words and their meaning is one important element of this film.

Before becoming a filmmaker, you were a poet.  Could cinema be equal to poetry?
Poetry is my root.  "A film" is an anthology for me.  It is a series of poetry of many kinds.  I don't like the continuation of the same tone in poetry.  In Guilty of Romance two female characters are reciting a poem like a mantra, a poem by a Japanese poet.  It is a passage from my favourite poem and I always remember it and hum it.

You've got the reputation of a controversial filmmaker.  What is your definition of perversion?
In my personal opinion, perversion is a fluid, something like Amoeba or water.  Like rain changes into the sea or into steam, there are sudden transformations in my daily life.  If there are no social rules to obey, life has no meaning.  If I dare to define perversion, it is a feeling to protrude from society.  It is the human emotion to protrude and try to grab the "excitements".

How would you like to be remembered: as a feminist filmmaker or as one who does movies about ordinary cruelty?
Couldn't it be both?  I am a feminist and cruel film maker.  I want to be liked, but I have my yearnings to be hated from all over the world.  Either way, it is the asme.  I am a perverse fellow.

After Cold Fish, you were supposed to do Lords of Chaos, a feature film about Norwegian black metal.  How did you end up doing Guilty of Romance instead?
Actually, the reason Lords of Chaos was postponed was simply because financing did not do well.  But I was lucky to create Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance because Lords of Chaos was delayed.  These two films were made in a series of coincidences.

By Alex Masson



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