"You know you're in a hit when you get messages from people you were at school with or people you haven't heard from in a long time," Bill Nighy said during the Sony Pictures Classics panel for Living at Deadline's Contenders Film: Los Angeles awards-season event.
He continued, "Everyone always says the same thing [in response to the film], which is they hit the street and they want to go do something they're inspired to make the most of it. It's a very inspirational film. It's uplifting in the way that sometimes tragedy can be."
"Living" is director Oliver Hermanus ' remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1952 critically acclaimed Ikiru , which was itself inspired by Tolstoy's 1886 masterpiece The Death of Ivan Ilyich . The screenplay by Nobel-winning screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro examines a theme painfully applicable in any century: the reality that mostly we don't consider life until we're faced with death.
The meaning of life comes by way of Nighy's Mr. Williams, an ordinary man in 1950s London assigned an expiration date and determined to make something of his life even in the last moments. As Hermanus explained, "[Mr. Williams] has this immediate instinct when he's diagnosed that … there's something in life that he has not connected with."
When questioned about the restraint his character faced by not being able to tell others he was dying, Nighy explains, "That's the extremity of it where you, you almost have to apologize for dying, which is kind of funny."
He goes on to draw a link between the remake and Kurosawa's original, "Obviously tragic but I find it quite funny, the one thing you think you could do without apologizing for is dying. … It was an extreme set of manners. Parallels have been drawn between England in the 1950s and Japan, not that they're the same but they both had this very complex set of manners that were highly performed."
Living premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released in the UK on November 4, with a limited theatrical release slated for the U.S. on December 23.
Check out the panel video above.
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