Japanese pop/"superflat" artist Takashi Murakami packed the crowds at the Film Society of Lincoln Center recently sharing his vision of Jellyfish Eyes, the feature directorial debut of one of the world's most successful contemporary commercial and media maestros. Murakami is known internationally, acclaimed for blurring the line between "high art" and pop culture, working simultaneously with painting, sculpture, commercial media, fashion, animation, and merchandise.
Jellyfish Eyes, a live-action feature, transforms the classic cinematic trope of the new kid on the block into a genre-defying adventure. Having recently lost his father, young Masashi moves with his mother to a small city in the Japanese countryside. But when he discovers that their new apartment is already inhabited by a pint-sized, gravity-defying creature, Masashi begins to pull back the curtain on this sleepy town and finds that very little is what it appears to be. Jellyfish Eyes is the first part of what will be a triology.
Murakami described the long process of bringing an idea in his head of over 10 years to the big screen during a post-screening discussion with the Film Society's Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez earlier this month. Working off of an original idea of a boy and girl solving their problem of communication through the presence of fantastical creatures, he sought to tell a story that dealt with those who exist in the “peripherals” of contemporary Japanese society. This concept solidified during the tragic aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and earthquake of 2011, where emphasis on traditional roles in society shifted as Japan recovered.
In addition to discovering the story for this film, Murakami filled its world with a multitude of characters inspired by his own artistic arsenal of paintings and sculptures. By utilizing physical characteristics that subtly represent thematic qualities of his characters, Murakami creates a multidimensional world of people and creatures of all kinds, spurring from his own imagination.
In addition, Murakami discusses his artistic influences, the role he and other artists play in the wake of the 2011 disaster, and working with Kanye West on his Graduation album cover. Check it out: