The media and entertainment site IGN recently released a special featurette to promote Netflix’s upcoming Death Note movie, an adaption that has received widespread controversy to say the least. This featurette, despite being less than two minutes long, covers a fair amount of ground from: director Adam Wingard’s vision for the film; the cast’s two cents on the atmosphere of the film and characters; some behind-the-scenes footage and a new trailer to boot.
But is the latest adaption of Death Note inspired by the same old controversies?
Let’s break down the worries.
The most volatile controversy over the Death Note film (and every others anime film adaption in history) was the ‘white-washing’ of the characters. This claim is a double-edged sword since, although the characters do have Asian names, over eighty-percent of anime characters look Caucasian.
But where would the fun be if people acknowledged a fair argument?
While very little details on the characters was discussed in the featurette, it has been reinforced that the film won’t be subjected to any white-washing slander or stigma because the film has re-imagined the Death Note universe, adapted it to an American setting and essentially Westernised the character names (for e.g. Light Yagami becomes Light Turner, Misa Amane becomes Mia Sutton, etc).
Director Wingard’s reasoning for this is:
“It’s one of those things where the harder I tried to stay 100 percent true to the source material, the more it just kind of fell apart. You’re in a different country, you’re in a different kind of environment, and you’re trying to also summarize a sprawling series into a two-hour-long film.”
Not much of a reassurance to die-hard fans of the series, but at least it is a significant reason, right?
The Plot and Themes
Arguably the most ground-breaking thing about Death Note is its themes revolving around life and death, justice, corrupting power and amorality. The translation of the themes to the silver screen and the director’s vision of the film were discussed at length.
“I always though the concept of Death Note in itself was really cool.” Wingard says in the featurette. “My brother and I grew up watching lots of anime and I always thought that if I was going to adapt something into a movie, that I should do Death Note… The story itself is so crazy and fantastic that you can interpret it in so many different ways.”
Producer Masi Oka and lead actor Nat Wolff had some screen time discussing the film’s themes, reassuring fans that the core themes of Death Note would be kept with the film:
“We definitely want to take what’s great about Death Note,” Oka had to say. “The light and dark and the moral ambiguity of killing someone for the sake of a better world… And while still honoring the manga, Adam (Wingard) made something that really felt new.”
“I think everybody has that little wish fulfillment that they would have the power to kill.” Wolff added. “This movie is about what happens when you give that ultimate power to a teenager… I just want to make the most kick-ass version of a movie with a kid with a killer notebook.”
Death Note will air on August 25th 2017 on Netflix.