An Interview with the Director of The Emperor's Club
- Tuesday, November 26, 2002
I recently interviewed the director of The Emperor's Club, Michael Hoffman. He not only was eloquent, polite and a true delight to listen to, but his passion for making a movie that rings true with his audience was clearly important to him. I want to encourage all of you to go and see this movie! Support Universal Studios and their effort to bring you quality entertainment--movies that will make a difference and speak to you and those you with an honorable message! Parents take your pre-teens and young teenagers to see this movie and talk about it with them afterwards. This is one of those movies where character DOES matter so you will be able to compare it to relatable situations today. I absolutely loved this movie, and I hope you will too.
Holly McClure: First of all let me tell you how much I enjoyed this movie!
Michael Hoffman: Well thank you! It's a wonderful picture.
H: How is the message in The Emperor's Club going to reach our culture--do you think people are ready to have messages about moral leadership?
M: You know I think there's a general hunger for moral leadership and people are hungry to see that. One of the things I love about the movie is that it doesn't tell you how to live but it takes the issues of character, morality and puts them at the center of debate. One of the interesting things about this movie surprised the audiences when they were tested--people kept saying, " I don't want to see a movie about a student saving a teacher or a teacher saving a student, I don't know what I want. I want something more substantial, something that's more truthful, that actually deals with the fact that making these kind of ethical decisions is right at the center of how difficult it is to be a human being and live in the world." And I think that's what ended up connecting with the audience. It acknowledges the difficulty of living a good life and making the right choices.
H: And as far as Kevin Kline's character, I like the fact that you said it's not so black and white, that even he himself compromises his own values--even his own standards and ethics--and that's the real crux of the whole movie isn't it?
M: I do too! I mean you have this character that Kevin plays who sees himself as a very ethical man and very capable of detached mentoring in his teaching. But the truth is, he's a sort of cut-off man, a very naïve man, and a very cloistered man and he's a man who himself, feels, has anxieties about his lack of success in the world and who's lived in his father's shadow. His father lived a much more public life than he has so when he meets Sedgewick Bell's father, he sort of humiliates him really. He sort of takes him on and says, "What's the good in what you're teaching those boys? You won't mold my son, I'll mold him." And Hundert picks up the gauntlet and says, "No I will mold him, I will be the spiritual father to this kid…watch me!" And at that point Hundert moves out of his detached position and becomes really neurotically involved with this kid and in a way…blind, blind to the ramifications, the decisions that he's making both for himself and his kid. So he makes decisions that he thinks are the best for Bell. But when the moment comes that he needs the moral high ground which is something that he's always managed to preserve. The kid is saying to him you know, "call me on the carpet and make me take responsibility for my actions….free me from my father influence by showing me that your way is also a way of power--please do that!" And Hundert, at that point, has surrendered a moral high ground and can't give Sedgewick what he needs.
Recently on Movie Features
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content