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Conversations with Peter Chan Ho Sun
Perhaps Love 2/7 - Page 2
Author(s) : Thomas Podvin
Date : 27/10/2008
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Jacky Cheung Hok Yau
Eric Tsang Chi Wai
John Woo
Movies :
Comrades, Almost A Love Story
Heroes Shed No Tears
Perhaps Love
Three... Extremes
< Previous
Page 1 : Heroes Shed No Tears
Next >
Page 3 : Love isn’t invincible

A Musical Love Story
HKCinemagic : Perhaps love is a musical love story within a story, with songs making for a third of the film. Elaborate on the concept of the movie.
Peter Chan : Up to now, all my movies have been love stories. It might change but it hasn’t changed so far. I’ve tried different genres; I tried comedy, love story, horror. [Three] was still a love story, a love story based on a supernatural situation. And this one. With Hong Kong filmmaking you got to keep reinventing yourself. Because the market for HK films or Chinese films is so irregular and small. Even now, when China is big but the number of people going to the cinemas is very small.

A lot of people see our movies, but they see them on DVD or VCD, and mostly in a pirated version. Which means the money never go back to the investors. So for the investors, the movie business is a very risky business. And a director gets more influential because the movie is seen, but it doesn’t help to recoup costs. Which make movie making a very difficult enterprise.

Peter Chan directing Perhaps Love

When we decided to make this film [Perhaps Love], the whole purpose was to bring the audience back to theatres to watch love and musical. We thought that if we made a love story most of the audience would prefer to watch it at home. What would you add to a love story to persuade them to go back to the big screen?
I had to try to make the love story works within the musical context. At the same time, if you’ve seen my work, my films are mostly quite reality-based. Which means it is quite apart from traditional musical. So when I planned to make a musical, all my friends and people around me were surprised. I was the last person they expect would make a musical. I had to find a way to portray music and musical elements in a very realistic setting. That is the ‘movie within the movie’ plot.

It gave me a legitimate reason for the actors to sing. The reason I needed a legitimate reason was because when actors go back to the dialogue scenes I wanted the audience to feel it’s real, I wanted the audience to feel “I am him, I am her.” If you have the actors singing in the middle of the movie, it’s very had for the audience to relate to the characters.

We worked diligently on the script to make two extremes come together, which is the over the top imagination of musical and stylish and unreal situation of a musical versus very real situations of a real contemporary love story.

Jacky Cheung in Perhaps Love
Three sources of inspiration
HKCinemagic : Were you not influenced by Moulin Rouge or Chicago?
Peter Chan : No, even though a lot of people think that, I denied it. Perhaps Love seems to be like Moulin Rouge, but it is really not like this movie. It was only my way to make a movie within a movie, where they sing. To me it’s a movie about film people. First and foremost it’s a love story. Also, with the movie within the movie technique, I get to pay a homage on a sidebar to films I love.

The movie is probably influenced by three kinds of movies. One is a very old Hollywood movie. First and foremost, in term of the core of the movie, it’s influenced by movies such as Casablanca [Michael Curtiz, 1942]. I’ve admitted over and over again that deep in my mind I’ve been inspired so much by Casablanca that I remade it three times -- in my mind. Even though people won’t think it’s Casablanca, Comrades, Almost a Love Story to me is Casablanca. Perhaps Love to me is Casablanca. In Comrades, I had Eric Tsang play Ingrid Bergman’s husband [Ed.: Victor Laszlo played by Paul Henreid], then in Perhaps Love, I had Jacky Cheung playing the husband, which is the character I love most in Casablanca.

Casablanca by Michael Curtis

In one way it’s the same sentiments, if you take all the style, the contemporary, the music out of it, you’ll actually find at the very core of it, a very old fashioned melodrama. Because I grew up watching old Hollywood movies, I am very much influenced by that sentiment and I feel like in this present day and age we have lost that sentiment and I’ve always wanted to recreate that in a contemporary setting.

The second influence, if you talk about the musical style or the pacing between the music and the reality, is Cabaret [Bob Fosse, 1972], which is my favorite musical. If you take the music out of this movie, it’s a complete straight narrative love story. There is no song in the dialogue at all, songs are in the stage scenes. It’s very partitioned; it’s almost very weirdly partitioned: when they talk they just talk, when the sing they just sing. The songs should complement on the emotion of the talky scenes that happened before. That was my favorite musical, but it’s not exactly a real traditional musical.

Cabaret by Bob Fosse

In terms of filmmaker aspect of Perhaps Love, I would be influenced by Day for Night [François Truffaut, 1973] and Eight and a Half [Federico Fellini, 1963], which are about filmmaking. The truth in fact is that part actually came from an idea I had a couple years ago to recreate the situation of my first movie with John Woo [Heroes Shed No Tears]. It was the funniest experience I’ve ever had on a film set. We shot for four months in the jungle in Thailand, with two French, three Korean, a whole bunch of HK crew, a Thai crew, a Japanese cinematographer -- five nationalities, all speaking different languages. Every actors just spoke there own language in the dialogue, and we just dub them. Nobody knew what the others were talking about.

John Woo was in the lowest of his career and he was very emotional, he is a very passionate person, which makes his film even more dramatic. It would be a perfect movie within the movie of Day for Night [Ed.: which tells the story of a shooting of a film, May I introduce Pamela]. If you use the shooting of Heroes Shed no Tears for Day for Night, it would be a much more interesting movie than Day for Night, or Eight and a Half [Ed.: the story of a director who retreats into his dreams]. I always wanted to remake that movie. I thought of a black comedy/drama in a way. But it’s very hard to put such a film together. So this idea influenced Perhaps Love, with the shooting on the film set and the inner turmoil of the director.

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Page 1 : Heroes Shed No Tears
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Page 3 : Love isn’t invincible

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