As for dealing with the shifting sands of different eras and three-language challenge, the idea was to show restraint. Captions would be coloured to identify them, and there wouldn’t be any colour grade device to place you in time. It was all about handing the audience some semblance of respect, to understand more as they became invested. However, the team’s initial idea was a tad left field. DOP Florian Hoffmeister explains how, in the end, Apple managed its expectations. “Kogonada and I started talking about how we were going to shoot, and saw an opportunity to stamp a look with a different use of subtitles. He came up with an idea that did away with the traditional means of letterboxing. Instead, he suggested: ‘Why don’t we push the picture up and double the space at the bottom, not unlike a Polaroid?’ “We could then put the subtitles in that black area, so they were part of a graphic composition and not just traditionally laid onto the picture. The image then might stand out differently.” As part of pre-production – and to prove the point – Kogonada and Hoffmeister shot some scenes with a couple of different lenses and stand-in actors. Inevitably, they started creating an aesthetic, looking to form an optimal way to tell such a huge, character-led story. “You start making something together,” Hoffmeister explains.
“For instance, we shot some close-ups and discovered it shouldn’t be too near. For us, a close-up looked at the shoulders and up, which some people might call a mid-shot. Then, when we really did close-ups, they would stand out more.” Ultimately, Apple was the arbiter of this quirky subtitles idea and reined it back. “They just feared it was a step too far,” comments Hoffmeister. SUBVERTING THE SERIES BIBLE But the die was cast. Kogonada and Hoffmeister were finding common
HISTORY LESSON Pachinko does not shy away from the more devastating narrative points – including the weight of Japanese colonialism and clashing cultures
“It was all about handing the audience some semblance of respect, to understand more as they became invested in the story”
TIMELINE The narrative begins in 1915 at occupied Busan, before jumping to New York in 1989. Again it shifts, this time to twenties-era Korea – all within the first episode
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