Hideo Kojima, art and language of a missed filmmaker

"With the passage of time and technological advancement, even the percentages of impossibility of a project will become possible ". This is one of the quotes more emblematic and essential than Hideo Kojima, among the most famous and acclaimed video game authors in the world. The intentions that made the statement in 2009, during the Game Developers Conferencand, he had behind him: growth, experimentation, courage.

In Kojima 's words the will of go beyond sectoral dictats and try to cross a mountain of media separatism that confined elsewhere decidedly important development opportunities. Already 11 years ago, in essence, after making four chapters of Metal Gear Solid and writing code by code, pixel after pixel, the history of the game, the brilliant author looked to the future, to what would come, to the possibilities of implementation of the medium and contact with the great cinematographic narrative.

Ennoble and deconstruct

The truth is though Hideo Kojima has always been a missed filmmaker, since the times of the first and historical Metal Gear of 1987, when he still worked with a two-dimensional environment, however creating protagonists and three-dimensional weaves, giving volume and character to an otherwise basic and accessory story. Ten years later, in 1998 and with the advent of the square polygonal models of the Playstation, the game director packaged the first chapter of Metal Gear Solid, already demonstrating a clear and decisive vision of the video game as a great narrative medium, disinterested in addition to devalue it of its media essence, to transform it into something else. And the fulcrum of Kojima's art is entirely interceptable precisely in this desire to maintain a precise formal identity of the video game, however manipulable and reformulable with the noble addition of the dramatic but genre story, explanted by the cinematographic model and inserted in the videogame context, adapted to adhere to and respect the canons of the same, in a fair compromise between gameplay and narrative.

Not a real summary, however, and not always precise. In fact, in the author's initial and profound 80s vision, the idea of ​​not subverting the balance between videogame and cinematographic narration, but this also in the face of a technological reality that prevented the creation of cut scenes or game moments of great display prominence. There were the first and concrete steps towards the possible resolution of that impossibility percentage of which we spoke at the beginning.

Things changed radically with the development of a stealth adventure in a three-dimensional model, which for Kojima's artistic mind meant being able to finally begin to intersect cinema and video game for a tangible and playable end. He began to reason with even more marked narrative depth, aimed at finding a characterization of the characters and an intertwining that embraced in a formal sense the cinematographic languagethat is, built as a story for moving images entirely declined within a videogame creative process, to ennoble the second medium in terms of completeness and instead deconstruct the first in its conventions.

At the heart of the Kojimian language

Compared to Kojima's language and creative grammar, the question is not purely about cinema or video games but art in an ancestral sense, which knows no boundaries and does not want to be sectorialized or labeled. In his various inventive processes that over the years have led him to different conclusions and objectives even internally from the same saga as Metal Gear Solid or in Zone of the Enders, the author managed to achieve diametrically opposed ends depending on the development period of this or that project. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for example, he aimed at an explicit study of the central figure of the project Les Enfantes Terrible, Big Boss, creating in doing it a marked ucronia where storytelling and gameplay lived in a heavenly harmony of purpose. The next chapter, Guns of the Patriots, on the other hand, saw a desired imbalance between the two sides, with an epic cinematic narrative excess that made the title less "playable"of the franchise but at the same time the most liveable in a filmic sense. Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain was then something else, with a narrative model (and also of play, if we think about it) almost close to seriality, composed of procedural missions for a total of two internal chapters, unfinished and with a final part canceled in itinere from production, just as often happens on the small screen.

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Finally, arriving at the most recent title, no longer confined in the narrow walls of Konami and now free to expand his knowledge and get even closer – concretely – to the world of Hollywood, to those inspirations that have always fascinated him (Ennio Morricone, David Bowie, all Sergio Leone's cinema, the 80s action movies, the stars), Hideo Kojima has managed to create what he is so far his most conceptual video game, perhaps his true work of art, his feature film entirely mediated by the videogame format: Death Stranding.

A project thanks to which the author has highlighted once and for all his cinephile and filmmaker tendency, willing to create a multiplayer title conceived not as a meeting point but to meet and help the gamers, but also as an evident declaration of intent of his great love for the seventh art. As if the frenzied search for a compelling and precise scenography, for a game in and out of the game (and not) really impeccable and the inclusion of known faces from the world of Hollywood, was not enough Norman Reedus to Mads Mikkelsen and Guilleremo Del Toro, Kojima built a film within his creation, a final 45-minute short film aimed at explaining the biggest mystery of Death Stranding.
And this after letting us experiment with the gameplay the sense of responsibility and awareness towards the future that weighs on the shoulders of all of us.

In short, it is no coincidence that Hideo Kojima was chosen by the Venice Biennale as a juror for the section Venice Virtual Reality of the 2020 Film Festival, which starting from the opposite side of the intentional string with respect to the video game tries to bring the two experiences closer together in a single environment, in a new format. And for the mythical Japanese author this valuable opportunity is also real certification of the great artistic value of its creative language, which goes beyond the sectoral compartments and looks only at the result, the product itself, the work as such. This means being great video game authors, impeccable storytellers and enlightened filmmakers.


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