Kikujiro by Takeshi Kitano

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Nov 26, 2011 18:55
My Polish fried told me that his favourite Kitano film was 菊次郎の夏 (Kikujiro). After watching the award-winning 'HANA-BI', I was fascinated by the director. I felt even embarrassed in that I didn't realize his talent for almost 20 years. So, how wonderful would the Kikujiro film be?

To be honest, I've got quite mixed impression about the film. Of course, you may find it completely different, and that's the beauty of having 70 billion people. Anyway, I'll try to explain what I felt.

There's no violence in the film. Oh sorry, there is, but Kitano is not killing anyone. That's unusual!

The story is very simple. Or there is almost no story, but events. Masao, a lonely school boy, wants to see his mother, who is in a far place. Kikujiro portrayed by Kitano is just a bloke having nothing to do. He decided to accompany Masao to his mother.

Their journey reminds me of my early days in university. It was almost the same year, I went to Hokkaido in summer and stayed there for one month as a member a hot air balloon club. We got up 5 o'clock everyday to fly in the morning but otherwise we don't have much to do. So we basically spent a whole month playing cards, visiting hot springs, wineries and ramen shops, drinking every night and things. It was quite fun. Time went very slowly in the summer.

Kikujiro and Masao's journey also has the same temporal feature. As a film, I found it a bit too slow sometimes, but, even so, there's sort of reality in the slow tempo and their childish playing. Perhaps, this atmosphere, this sensation of slow time, attracts many Western people. It also provokes strong nostalgia in me.

Besides the deliberate slowness, what I felt awkward was probably the two main characters. I was not convinced of Masao's emotion throughout the film. Masao appeared not a real boy but an imaginary product by an adult to me. I'm not a school boy any more, but if I watched the film when I was about the same age as Masao, I probably couldn't feel sympathy with him. That's my guess.

As a Japanese, I couldn't appreciate Kikujiro's Japanese. It's partly because it was full of swearing. To make things worse, Kikujiro was nothing more than ビートたけし himself, Kitano on TV programs. Other characters also include core members of Kitano's henchman comedians called たけし軍団. Their characters in the film are also almost the same as their performances on TV. At least for me, it was very difficult to sink into the film's world.

In conclusion, if you are not familiar with たけし軍団 or ビートたけし, you may be able to enjoy the film fairer than me.