Released in 2003, Park Chanwook’s Oldboy is often heralded as a cult favorite and mastapiece of Korean cinema. Venturing to emotional extremes with its grim violence and extraordinary sadomasochism, it is a film that is compulsive viewing for anyone with a petulance for gore or a good revenge story. As tense as it is tragic, Cho Young-Wuk’s composition work mirrors the film’s dark beauty – filled with melancholic moments and infectious melodies. Looking for a visual artist to complement the project, Milan Records enlisted the talents of Laurent Durieux – whose captivating , lucid style immaculately captured the overcast essence of the film.
“I got an email from Milan records asking me if I was interested in creating the artwork for the LP Original Soundtrack of Oldboy” explains Durieux in regards to how he got involved in the project. “I am lucky enough to have many offers for countless properties and movies and this gives me the insane luxury to choose the very ones that are special to me. As it turned out I was interested. I love both the movie and the music.”
Left to his own devices, Durieux was able to showcase a unique, personal perspective of the film without being constricted by the label or design teams. “Milan hardly had any input in the creation of the poster” informs Durieux. “They trusted me completely and they knew that it is the way I work, without having anyone behind my shoulder telling me what to do. So it was pretty much Carte Blanche and Jean-Christophe Chamboredon at Milan Records and Nicolas Winding Refn (soundtrack producer) as well as Director Park being intelligent enough to understand that. It was such a pleasure working with them on this project.”
Taking three weeks to complete, Durieux ignores the films brutal violence – instead focusing on the relationship between the main character Oh Dae-su and his sidekick/love interest Mi-do. “I knew the movie, I had seen it several times years ago” notes Durieux. “So I had to watch it again to remember all the details, the story, the psychology of the characters, etc, I did not listen to the soundtrack at all, the music doesn’t really inspire me that much visually as much as the images from the film. I wanted the viewer to somehow feel like a voyeur, discovering as their eyes are travelling through the image the hidden details, both the poetry and the ominousness of the image.”
Sombre and dripping in moody textures, Durieux’s unique approach makes even the warm colors look cold and empty on the page. Using techniques that emphasizes low key lighting and splashes of unbalanced compositions – Durieux work is steeped in qualities akin to film noir. The voyeuristic nature of the film is also highlighted within the work with subtle use of reflections and shadows.
Taking a look at the creative process behind the project, Durieux notes ”I’m pretty much all digital nowadays. I do sketch (on actual paper) a few ideas but that is just for my own use, I open some doors which turned out to be dead ends, but I feel by putting ideas on paper, even bad ones, that helps me seeing it more clearly. [Originally] I designed it as a poster – knowing I would have to crop it somehow to match the gatefold format. I did stick to a limited palette of colors as it was agreed from the very beginning that I would produce a screen print from the original LP artwork.”
Already a well know artist within the growing black circle genre due to his poster work with Mondo – Durieux reflects fondly upon his debut vinyl release with Milan, stating “I was very happy with it. But was even more so with the large screen print for obvious reasons. My brother Jack did the type treatment and art direction of the vinyl (and poster) which we all were very happy with.”
Blending contemporary musical influences with classic orchestral ones, Cho Young-Wuk’s use of electronica and stormy strings creates a detailed atmosphere of near-mournful suspense and malice. Equally as appealing, Laurent Durieux’s provocative palette beautifully highlights the scopophiliac themes and eerie dissonance of both Oldboy’s film and score.
Peace to Laurent Durieux for helping out with this piece. Hunt down your own copy of Oldboy and other releases at Milan Records. Check out Durieux’s other works on his Official Page and buy yourself a treat at his Store.