In ‘Minari,’ see a family build a new life in America.
We ask directors to share the secrets behind creating crucial scenes in their films in “Anatomy of a Scene.” On Fridays, new episodes of the series will be out. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel and enjoy our series of more than 150 episodes.
In an early scene from his Oscar-nominated film about Korean immigrants who migrate to rural Arkansas, Lee Isaac Chung narrates.
Is America a land of opportunity, a land of struggle, or a land of fun? The opening sequence from Lee Isaac Chung’s drama “Minari,” about a Korean family who moves to Arkansas to start a new life in the United States, shows all three viewpoints. It has six Academy Award nominations, including best picture.
The Yi family (Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Noel Kate Cho, and Alan Kim) arrive at their new home, a trailer in the middle of a field, in this scene. Jacob, played by Yeun, is proud and hopeful, while Monica, played by Han, is cynical.
Chung said in an interview that the scene was already in his head when he started writing the script, and that the plot would develop from there, like a hopeful void that would be filled in.
“That’s why it begins in a house that isn’t completely furnished,” he explained. “There aren’t even any stairs.”
Then, using shots and dialogue (or the lack thereof), Chung discussed the viewpoints of the various family members. The first character we see exiting a car is Jacob. “I filmed that to evoke the feeling of a man dismounting his horse,” Chung explained. Then, while directing Han, he told her that her success would sometimes be more about reactions than words.
He said, “All she has to communicate has to be through her looks, expressions, and movements.” With the girls, he simply advised them to “go out and have fun.” He attempted to film their performances in a documentary style in order to give the film a more naturalistic and less orchestrated feel.