One of the most infamous forests in the world will soon grace the big screen as the setting for a journey of self-reflection and survival in director Gus Van Sant's "Sea of Trees."
Aokigahara forest, a 14-square-mile historic site at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, is widely known as "suicide forest," owing to the large amount of people who take their own lives there annually. While Japanese officials have stopped reporting official numbers for fears of heightening the forest's macabre reputation, the most recent numbers from 2010 showed that 247 people attempted suicide in the forest, 54 of whom were successful. The forest is also incredibly dense with trees, insulated from outside noise and notorious for quickly confusing inexperienced hikers.
For the film "Sea of Trees" (another nickname for the forest), Matthew McConaughey plays a man who travels to Aokigahara to commit suicide, only to befriend a Japanese man intent on doing the same thing. The two decide not to take their lives, only to find themselves completely lost and searching for a way out. Filming in the forest recently commenced in late July, with McConaughey posting a photo of the eerie landscape.
"It was the best script I remember reading in the last five years,” McConaughey told Variety earlier this year, adding that it "felt like a bunch of beautiful haikus, back to back. It was incredibly surprising. I got chills a few times just in the read of it."
Look for "Sea of Trees" to be released sometime next year. A short documentary on the Aokigahara forest is below.
Related on MNN: 8 creepiest places in U.S. national parks